Novi Sad: A Rare Gem

At first glance, Novi Sad looked positively ordinary. When we arrived in the second-largest city in Serbia I asked myself, “Why are we here? Why didn’t we just stay in Belgrade?” We arrived at our hotel around dusk and took some time to get settled in. We had already had a long day, but a few of us decided to explore since we only had a few days in the city. We walked down the humdrum street from our hotel toward the city center. We passed a few shops and restaurants, but nothing too exciting. We reached the end of the street and took a right turn. In that instant, Novi Sad became rich and vibrant. The city center was thriving. The streets were bustling with tourists and locals—there were musicians, street performers, cafes, and shops. Magical is the only word I know to describe how I felt while walking toward the city square. To say I was wrong about Novi Sad is an understatement.

Over the next few days I got to see so much of this beautiful city and experience its rich culture. No wonder Novi Sad was named Europe’s Capital of Culture for 2021. We explored libraries, archives, museums, parks, and a 17th century fortress. We ate bold, rich meals, silky-smooth gelato, and fresh-popped popcorn to our hearts’ content. Our excursion to Novi Sad ended up being the highlight of my time in Serbia. I can honestly say being wrong never felt so good.


Serbia 2017


Although I’m only finishing the second day of my trip, I’m very appreciative of the opportunity to study abroad during my Master of Library Science program.  When I signed up I had no idea what was in store for me.

This picture above is Kalemegdan Park in Belgrade, part of a walking history tour we went on the first day.  We had two excellent tour guides from the University of Belgrade, providing a primer about the character of the Serbian people and some background for what is to come.  One of the things we learned is that Belgrade has been razed and rebuilt 40 times.  This means that bombings have happened within most everybody’s lifetime – something that Americans are fortunate not to have experienced.


This second picture is from the tour of the Special Collections Reading Room at Biblioteka Grada Beograda Periodika.  This is the bound volume containing the earliest issue of the first magazine published in Serbia, 1824.  We learned about and toured that room, then went to the main library, and learned about operations there; incidentally, it was in the Roman Room, which contains part of the foundation of a 2nd century Roman military camp.  Interesting locations and special items are all well and good for their “ooh and aah” factor, but the main theme I took from the day’s events are the necessary resilience and resourcefulness of librarians and staff there.


Feels like Home

Everyday Adventures

This week is only half over and it has been so darn amazing. I’m finally getting into the flow of my classes, I’ve discovered some beautiful hidden spaces on campus – as well as found my bearings and oriented myself as to where all the buildings are in relationship to the others, and I’ve spent some time with my beautiful Finnish family baking, singing, story telling, and hiking. It’s been a really good week and I am looking forward to this weekend.

First, my classes. I’ve officially finalized my class schedule and the whole thing is really weird. In Europe, class credit is based on how many hours you are expected to dedicate to a class. 1 European Credit (ECT) translates to 27 hours of work (but it varies by country). Finnish college only considers “contact teaching” – the time you spend in a classroom with an instructor…

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At the start of this past summer, I took the trip of a lifetime to London! I enjoyed 8 days packed with fun and discovery, and made some unforgettable memories! IMG_3650

If you’re an English major like me, hearing about London may automatically make you think of Shakespeare. Leading up to the trip, attending plays at The Globe Theatre was one of the activities I most looked forward to. The Globe did not disappoint! This summer, the Globe put on its ‘Summer of Love’ series, including my personal favorite of Shakespeare’s works, “Twelfth Night.”
As I walked into the Globe Theatre, I had an expectation that I’d likely be seeing a very traditional portrayal of the play. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Instead, the play was extremely modernized, to say the least. Instead of the shared lighting performance that I’d expected, the stage lit up like a rock concert! Actors and actresses were dressed in flashy 70s-era costume. Traditionally a very musical play, this performance of Twelfth Night was filled with song, reinforcing the atmosphere of a feel-good concert.
Although traditionalists may be appalled at this updated and flashy performance, seeing Twelfth Night at the Globe Theatre was the highlight of my Summer 2017 trip to London!

I Really Need to do My Laundry

A few days ago, I was cleaning my room and I found some memorabilia from my trip to Uganda, and I actually got emotional.

I found a reusable grocery bag that I got from a supermarket and it still had red dirt on it. It reminded me of the time Camille, Taylor, Megan, Trent, David, and I went to Kasese to pick up Sylvia. While we were waiting for Sylvia’s bus, we went in to a small market and got ice cream. This was the first taste of ice cream we had since our flight to Brussels (around 2-3 weeks in the country). To us, the strawberry swirl was the best tasting ice cream we’ve ever had. When we were satisfied, some of us (not me because I’m a pig and ate all of my ice cream) still had ice cream and we gave it to some kids on the side of the street and it put a huge smile on their faces.

I found my swimming suit that I swam in Lake Victoria wearing (and it was still dirty). The day we left for America, we spent 3-4 hours at Aero Beach, a beach 4 minutes from the airport. When we got out of the water, the showering facilities were closed so we had to get creative. We got several buckets of water, got some soap, held up some towels and we literally showered by splashing water on our naked and exposed bodies. The beach was packed so this was kind of awkward; but we had to clean ourselves before our 30+ hours of transit! After we were clean and had dry clothes on, we threw our suites in our bags and went to the airport. I’m sure once we got home, all of my fellow travelers had washed their suites—but it took me a month to wash mine. Seeing the suit forced me remember the raw beauty of Uganda and all of the happy times I had in the waters of Uganda.

I know that the items I found don’t seem important but they reminded me of some of my most memorable moments of my trip to Uganda. Finding these items made me miss the beauty of the country, Balaku Ronald (I sponsor his education), Sylvia, and all of the other friends I made.


What do you think?



Q. What has been the most impactful thing during the experience? How did the trip change life your life or perspective?

A. For me, the “thing” that has been the most impactful during this trip is the lack of convenience that I experience and witness in Uganda. Here, it seems that nothing is ever free or easy. Most of the people that I have met work at least six days a week. The woman that I am staying with now works from 8-8, if she doesn’t go to work early and if she gets home on time. This woman is well educated and studied for three years to earn a degree at a university.

Another woman that I met is 21–like me, but unlike me she is no longer in school, but works as a waitress. She works 7 days a week from 2-10 or later if customers remain. She gets one day off a month, she rarely gets tipped, and earns around a dollar a day. She shares a room with two other girls that is meant for one resident for an apartment. She finished secondary school–high school, but was unable to continue her education without financial support. She was able to complete as much schooling as she did because of an organization that helped her to find a sponsor. As for her career, she works at this position not because she is unmotivated, but because it is the best opportunity for her to support herself.

During our time here, I have also had the opportunity to practice adaptive leadership strategies as a representative of the Honors College at ESU. Specifically, a memorable experience was working with a handful of middle-school aged boys. As we went through the leadership material, we first identified challenges that these boys faced in their lives. The purpose of choosing a challenge is to assess the issue from different perspectives in order to understand it fully. Then, we proceeded and brainstormed– thinking of ways to inspire others to get involved in managing the challenge. We also imagined possible solutions and decided on different experiments to implement in order to make progress on addressing their challenge. Theses boys–not older than twelve–chose the the challenge of paying for school fees.

Education in Uganda is not like in the US. In Uganda, the government schools are inadequate and many cannot afford even them because of the funds needed for necessary scholastic materials and school uniforms. Private schools can be good, but in order to attend, one must pay expensive school fees. Many cannot afford these fees let alone uniforms, materials, and other expenses that accompany the tuition. Consequently, they don’t go. They do not go to school. In fact, they get “chased” for fees and are not allowed to return to school without money. When this is the case, they are robbed of a future.

I listened, with a bleeding heart, as these boys told me the reasons they don’t have fees for school. They assessed the situation and identified their strengths, as the training indicated, to make progress on their challenge. One boy suggested that he could get a scholarship if he was noticed for his athletic abilities–his futbol skills. Another said that he could play the drums and one other said that he could dance in order to raise the necessary funds for school. (To explain, at a site that we volunteered at, EduKey Gender, the boys were trained in cultural music and dance.) It is possible that they might be able to raise some money performing on the street, but ultimately the situation is unfair and definitely inconvenient.

At home, sometimes I feel like I am inconvenienced. I feel stressed out–
like I have too much on my plate and that juggling school, work, and athletics is too difficult. But, at home, my CONVENIENCES include: running water in my home, dependable electricity, safe transportation, and accessible education. The convinces of my life far out way the inconveniences.

Uganda lacks convenience. As I contemplate this, I wonder: “Why was I born in a place that exudes convenience…because no one gets to chose the life or place that he or she is born into.” And I wonder: “What have I “earned” in this life and what has actually been given to me in a place with so much opportunity…?” As I return to the States, I hope that I gain an even better understanding of my experience in Uganda and from that–greater knowledge about my life in America.

Last day in Spain and First day in Madrid

June 25th, Sunday:

On Sunday, we got up super early to meet in the lobby so we could get on the bus and drive to Madrid which was at least 4 hours from Córdoba.  We had a little trouble with our apartments so the tenant had us put our bags in the basement till the others that were there left. After we put our bags in the basement we got back on the bus to go to the Prado Museum in Madrid. Once we got there we split up because we each wanted to look at different things. Yo estaba en un grupo con Miquie, Royell, Ally, Champayne y Ashely. Nosotras fuimos al edificio de Villanueva y vimos casi todos los paintings en ese nievel. Despues de eso fuimos al primer nievel para ver unas pinturas alli atras del mapa que nos dieron hay pinturas que son famosas y yo busque unas de ellas para ver y despues de eso vimos otras pinuras. Si alcanzamos a ir a todos los nieveles antes que era tiempo para ir nos. Despues de eso nos fuimos al comedor para comer algo por que teniamos mucha hambre. Al llegar alli vimos que todo era muy caro entonces decimos compartir un platio entre cada pareja, como eramos 6 en total. Todas escojimos un chicken wrap que estaba muy delicioso y nosotras tambien compramos un agua. De alli pusimos nuestro dinero juntas para comprar un postre. Comimos y hablamos un poco alli hasta que nos tenimos que ir para atras a nuestro apartamento. Al llegar al apartamento tuvimos que llevar nuestros equipajes hasta el lobby area. Y de alli todas juntas subimos los eqipajes en el elevador a los pisos edequados. ya que todas tenian sus malletas nos banamos para ir nos al Placio Real De Madrid. A primero no queria ir por que estaba cansada pero esoy contenta que si fui porque el palacio era increible. Los disenos de los cuartos eran hermosos me encanto todo. Despues de ver el palacio nos fuimos al restaunte a donde ibamos a cenar por ultima vez. Al llegar alli le dijimos a la camarera que ibamos a reservar una mesa y nos dijo que el comedor estaba cerrado y fuimos a encontrar otor restaurante. Alli comimos todos y luego nos fuimos al apartamento para discutir nuestro viaje y como nos fue a todos. We also discussed our book and how it related to Granada and we discussed some of our discussions on Canvas. That was our last class before we all headed back home.

Our Day in Cordoba

June 24th, Saturday:

On Saturday, we woke up at 6 am to be ready by 9 am in the lobby. We each showered and packed our bags again and then we lugged our bags down the flight of stairs we decided to take our bags to the bus and wait for everyone else. Once everyone was on the bus we went somewhere to go eat breakfast and go visit Plaza de España. When we got there we had an hour or so to go look around and take pictures then we had to go meet back on the bus to drive to Córdoba. All llegar a Córdoba nos tuvimos que esperar en el autobus para ver que lejos estaba el hostel y de alli nos llevamos una mochila con nuestras cosas para no cargar todas nuestras maletas. Despues todas entramos al hostel y mis compañeras eran Rihannon y Sarah. Teniamos un poco de tiempo para comer algo antes de ir a nuestro tour. El tour era de un Mosque/Cathedral. Antes de que fuera una catedral era un mosque para los Arabes. Ese lugar fue unos de los más bonitos que visite durante el mes que estuve en España. Despues de mirar el Mosque-Catedral fuimos a tour de Córdoba y visitamos una calle muy famosa por que entre la calle y los edificios se ve la catedral. Despues del tour de Córdoba podíamos hacer lo que quieramos, entonces fuimos para atras al hostel para cambiarnos y bañarnos. Despues de eso yo y Rihannon fuimos a un tea shop para comprar mas te y lo habíamos visto cuando hicimos el tour. Despues de comprar te nos fuimos al supermercado para comprar unos snacks para llevar mañana cuando nos íbamos a ir a Madrid. Duramos mucho para llegar hasta el supermercado como 20 minutos y compramos un poco de fruta, aguas, y granola bars. Nosotras no habíamos comido entonces decimos ir nos para atras al hostel porque había muchos lugares a donde comer alli. Cuando llegamos a hostel nos encontramos con Robinson y le dijimos que ibamos a comer a un restaurante Dominicano porque quieramos probar tostones which are fried plantains. Robinson decided he wanted to join us and so Spaulding and Sarah joined as well. We got to the Dominican restaurant and we ordered our beverages and we orders an order of tostones as our appetizers. The tostones were extremely good, they were shaped into a little cup and filled with avocado and grilled shrimp on top. Then we each ordered a meal. Yo pedi unas empanadas de queso y carne. They were also tasty that I had to order another one. Me encanto ver que la señora del restaurante era muy habable y conoci todo and her restaurant wasn’t a high-scale place nor was big by any means she was very humble. At the end of our meal she offered us a shot of her own liquor from Dominica that shot is suppose to help with digestion. We each took one and then we paid and stopped by a bakery to buy Champayne her birthday cake. We bought each of the girls a piece of carrot, chocolate, or cheesecake and a bottle of champagne to drink. Once we got to the hostel we had Champayne come down stairs and so we could sing to her and eat the cake with her. After that we each went back to bed since we had to meet down in the lobby at 6 am.

Granada and Sevilla

June 23rd, Friday:

El Viernes, nos paramos temprano y nos alistamos para ir al meeting point nuestra host mom Nuria. We walked down the three flight of stairs and to Plaza Mariana Pineda y alli nos encontramos con todos del grupo y nos despedimos Nuria. Nos subimos al autobus y salimos para ir nos a Sevilla. A llegar a Sevilla caminamos por la plaza y llegamos a la catedral. We went on a tour of the Cathedral and afterwards we decided to go up to the towers to view the city and take some pictures. The walk up there wasn’t bad even though it was 35 flights because there was no stairs it was designed as a ramp. Despues de que vimos el atore salimos a comer y fuimos a tapas. En el restaurante comimos calamari, shrimp with avocado, cheese, and croquetas. Despues de eso nos subimos al autobus para llegar a nuestro hostel. We had to walk down the street to get the hostel because the bus wouldn’t fit down the little street. Once we got there the hostel was super tiny and we barely fit inthe lobby with our bags. Tampoco no teniamos elevador entonces teniamos que llevar nuestras maletas hasta nuestro piso. Once we got all setteled in we fell asleep. I shared a room with Royell, Miquie, and Champayne and then some of us went with Ana to go explore Sevilla. Once we woke up we showered and we got ready and we went to go eat and we walked around the mall and we wanted to go watch a movie but we wanted to watch one with English subtitles. Cuando llegamos al cine the cashier nos dijo que había otro cine que tenía subtitles pero estaba a block away entonces caminamos alli. Cuando llegamos la película ya había empecado entonces no podíamos verla. Despues de eso nos fuimos al hostel a descansar por que nos teniamos que levantar temprano para ir a Córdoba.

Last Weekend in Granada

June 17th, Saturday:

On Saturday our last weekend in Granada Royell and I ate breakfast which was the usual hot chocolate with muffins. Then we went Shopping with Miquie, Champayne, Ashely, and Lindsey. We stopped at a few stores and then we went to go eat some pizza. After we ate the pizzas we walked Mique and Champayne home and the rest of us got stopped by to get some water bottles since it was so hot out. While we were at the store buying the water we decided to go visit the Palacio de los Olvidados, which is a museum dedicated to the Spanish Inquisition, before we went back home and got too lazy to go back out since the heat was unbearable during that time of day. It took us a while to find it but we did and it was so horrible to see all the instruments that people used as torture devices. The first floor showed all the devices along with descriptions of how it harmed the person and who got punished. The second and third floor displayed objects of the Jewish. Once we were done looking through the museum we walked back home to go eat and shower and take a nap. Later on that night Royell and I decided to go out and enjoy our last weekend in Granada instead of staying in. We went out to go get some tapas at an overpriced bar and our drinks werent even that good. We left after our first drink and decided to find another place but they were all closing so, we decided to go the club that was kind of close to our house. The place was called Mae West and we had another drink there but that it because the fee to get in and each drink was also overpriced. I had a lot of fun there dancing with royell, we stayed there most of the night and then we got tired so we went home to sleep.

June 18th, Sunday:

On Sunday we woke up late because we were out so late and then we ate lunch and ready to go watch the Flamenco show. Nos encontramos con Alli, Ashely, y Lindsey de alli nos cojimos el autobus para ir a Sacramonte cuando llegamos teniamos que esperar para el otro show. El show era en una cueva con sillas adentro y un espacio para los bailadores. En frente estaban los músicos y la cantante. El Flamenco show era muy increíble y los bailadores bailaban muy bien. Cuando estaba viendo el flamenco show la cantante estaba diciendo una historia y los bailadores lo estaban actuando era muy diferente. Despues de todo eso unos de los bailadores nos sacaron a bailar y bailamos un poco con ellos depues de eso se acabo y caminamos para atras y salimos a comer a un tapas bar y despues de eso nos fuimos a casa a descansar.