Tuesday, January 27, 2009

"Outside in Bosnia"

Winter weather in Mostar seems to be a blend of pounding, seemingly endless rain and sunny but cold and windy days. The former are filled with "awkward umbrella confrontations" on the street, as Andy calls them, and with the later comes the unrelenting bura, a wind that's chilling no matter how many layers you wear. Nevertheless, the changing weather has brought some beautiful and otherworldly landscapes, and since Autumn has asked to see more pictures of "outside in Bosnia," I thought I'd share some of them here.

Clouds in the valley during rain

Old town

East Mostar

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Not in Kansas Anymore

Lately I seem to be a person with full days and a tired mind, and when a little space frees up in my schedule I often turn to movies to relax.
So, on Monday when Michelle, Milana, Srdjan, and I discovered that our ballroom dance class was cancelled, we headed to the mall to search for a cheap video store Matt and Rowan mentioned. We found the store and were greeted by shelves and boxes of the latest films, music releases, and Playstation games...and I mean the latest. Although I should have expected it, I was a bit surprised to find Twilight, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Bedtime Stories, and several other titles I know haven't been released on DVD even in the US. Actually, almost all the DVDs in that store are pirated, and it's completely legal to buy and sell them in this country. Maybe the word "copyright" hasn't been added to the language yet?
However it happens, for about the same price as a new release rental in the US, one can enjoy the newest cinema releases in the comfort of his own home. Never mind that one scene it skipped, the local language subtitles, or the message at the bottom of the screen reading "For awards consideration ONLY." That's the price you pay for taking advantage of being outside the Motion Picture Association of America's jurisdiction.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

End of the Beginning, Beginning of the End

After the first three days of classes, I can't help but reflect on how different this start of term is from the last one. Last time around I couldn't remember my roommates names, I didn't know left from right on the streets of Mostar, I couldn't stand walking to school in the suffocating heat or pouring rain, local language might as well have been an unbreakable code, and IB itself was a total mystery. The first time I handed in a Biology assignment, Mr. Museve looked at it and said, "What is this? You should have done this in pen. Pencil is too messy." I was a little shocked...how was I supposed to know? I was used to teachers who prefer pencil!
I hope and suspect I'm not the only one who had adjustment experiences like that, and it's rather strange to think how far we've come.
My roommate Isabelle just arrived from the Netherlands...lots of people were delayed because of the unpublicized new law that says minors can't travel without parents in BiH. With classes resumed, tests scheduled, and plans for the exams and graduation already in sight, the term promises to fly by.
And with a new umbrella and waterproof hiking boots, I'm ready to face even Mostar weather again!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Mr. Golden Sun, please shine down on me!!

I'm back in Mostar after a LONG 2 days of 3 flights, two bus rides, a taxi ride, and a LOT of waiting! Susac house was still pretty empty last night...almost all of those who were here had stayed the whole break. I found my room freezing cold with the window cracked open and the water heater turned off. Mostar doesn't have much central heating, so the city hasn't been directly effected by the situation with Russia. However, that also means that my fairly large room is left to be heated by a small space heater.
I arrived about 7pm yesterday, took a lukewarm shower, bundled up with a towel on my head since I had no hair dryer, and for the first time lamented that I have such a large room and that the internet cable for the house is running through the window above my bed and keeping it cracked open...and I've been lamenting it ever since. Last night wasn't so bad as a bunch of us went for coffee, played cards, and hung out in the second floor rooms where the Middle Eastern and African students have been staying...naturally, since they've had heaters on for a month those rooms are much warmer. The fun continued (quite loudly) until about 5am, but since I was rather jet-lagged I snuck off to the room next door, which was nicely heated and missing it's occupants. I can't say I slept well, but I did sleep and today's been a lovely day of bundling up, trying to warm my fingers enough to do homework, walking around Mostar, and greeting my housemates as they come.
Despite everything, it's still way too cold in here. I've had hot tea, stolen my roommate's blanket, dressed in multiple layers, and I've just resorted to turning on the oven with the door open in hopes that it might warm things up a bit...does that say "desperate" to you?