After 12 hours flight by Norwegian Airlines, I landed to Pristina at late evening of Saturday. The taxi driver from the Beki taxi (recommended, they have Wi-Fi in every vehicle) dropped me off at the district called Sunny Hill where I was welcomed by Andelina and her husband. It should be noted that I have been feeling a real support from my future colleagues since it was clear that I will be interning in Kosovo.
Andelina showed my home for the next 3 months. It is fully furnished and cozy 2 bedroom apartment. Therefore, if you want to come to my house these months – you are welcome! There is enough space for everyone. The first impression about the flat: it was purely clean that in a moment I thought my mom came here before me and cleaned up the entire apartment. But the most exciting thing was that my “bachelor’s cave” is only 15 minutes walk from the office.
Next day I went to explore the capital city of the 10-year-old country – Pristina. It is located in a hilly and greeny terrain surrounded by the mountains. The streets are like a maze. I think there is not a single straight street at all. Almost all of them are sinuous and curved. Every time when I walk to Qendra (City Center) I try to explore a new itinerary.
Most of all I liked three things in the city: people, food, and nature. People of Kosovo are the same Muslims as me who experienced the socialist past (Kosovo was part of Yugoslavia). Despite the fact that we look differently, mentally we are very similar. Therefore, here I feel very comfortable and the origin of many things is clear to me without any explanation. By the way, most of the Kosovars are fluent in English, especially young people.
Cuisine. When I was in the US I really missed soups and fresh natural vegetables with the real smell and taste. Here in Pristina, you can find natural products at a very affordable price. Even the milk is so fresh that from the taste you can even notice what kind of grass the cow was eating yesterday ;-). My top 3 traditional dishes: burek (baked filled pastries made of a thin flaky dough), flija (crepe-like layers brushed with cream), ayran (cold savory yogurt-based beverage). Once in one of our breakfast, I was very excited when I saw Kazakh traditional bread that we call bauyrsak and then it turned out that it was traditional bread llokuma. Another fact about Kosovo is that they pretend to make the best coffee in the world. I am not a coffee fan so I can’t check it, but I do like hot chai here.
On Monday I went to the office. My supervisor Keith Prenton introduced me to our little, but very friendly ASSET team. After School Support for Teens (ASSET) Program is a new, 5-year initiative managed by local NGO Kosova Education Centre in partnership with FHI 360 and Crimson Capital Corp. ASSET’s main aim is to develop employability and entrepreneurial skills in secondary school-aged youth and equip them with positive attitudes toward their future.
During the first and very busy week, Keith tried to bring me up to speed: on Monday he presented the report on Baseline Survey of student opinion about the project. Since it was the first year from the beginning of the project the survey gave big insights to the stakeholders. On Tuesday, we met with representatives of the Ministry of Economic Development to discuss more efficient allocation of resources among piloted schools. On Wednesday and Thursday, I got acquainted with the quarterly reports of the project. The last day of the week we said goodbye to Keith as he was transferred to another office outside Kosovo. Despite the fact that we worked with Keith only a week he managed to acquaint me not only with the work but also to transfer me to the caring hands of his own team. He promised to return by the end of the summer and check out what I did for this period of time.
As you may notice, I didn’t write in detail about nature. Therefore, I will state this in the next post. See you later!