Saturday, September 3, 2011

This morning we had our first Serbian class. Ceca picked us up and walked with us to a pekare (пекаре, bakery) for breakfast. I had a pastry made of not-quite-philo-dough and stuffed with a warm apple paste, sprinkled with powdered sugar. We went onward to the University of Novi Sad, to the Philosophy building where the Serbian classes are held. There we met Ivana, our teacher, and Mikhail, our classmate who's visiting from Russia.

During class, we steamed through virtually all of the Serbian I know. We went through the alphabet-- Mikhail was far better at the cyrillic, and we were better at the latinic. We went over the basic numbers, and a few other concepts.

Outside our classroom was a poster describing the various types of emergency alarms. I was most surprised by two: one depicted a mushroom cloud, which I guess we have in some old or highly populated public areas in America; and the other showed a pair of jet fighters and two bombs. Ceca joked with me, "We used that when you bombed us." "Sorry about that," I replied. She knows that I was only six years old during the air raids, and none of the Serbians I've run into yet seem at all hostile toward Americans because of the events of 1999.

After class, we walked back to the area around our hostel. We went to a café and started our homework: transliterating latninic Serbian into cyrillic. I had an espresso to ward off jet lag.

Around five in the afternoon, Milica, our homestay coordinator, picked us up and took us to the shipyard. We boarded a small boat (brod/брод) and went down the Danube a ways, passing under two bridges (rebuilt where the old ones had been bombed out during NATO's air raids) and passing the Austro-Hungarian era fortress. It was warm out there in the sun, and the beaches on the river were in heavy use.

Going back upstream, our captain dropped us up at a restaurant floating on the river where we met Ceca and her husband, Ivan, for dinner. The Danube is particularly low right now, so we got to see a few swimmers "walk on water."

We talked there until a little after sunset, then took a taxi back into town. While Charlotte, Dominique, and I were waiting with Ivan for the rest of the crew when I noticed a sign for Liberty Square, Trg Slobode (Трг Слободе). Ivan explained to me that the name "Slobodan" literally means "liberty" or "freedom." Oh, irony.

We have a new nickname going around. Whoever's done something stupid gets the name "glupa klupa" (глупа клупа) or "stupid bench." Charlotte and Dominique also started assigning us permanent nicknames, with help from Ceca, Milica, and the rest of us. Mine is Pera Ždera, (Пера Ждера) or "Peter the Eater" after a cartoon character I've never heard of, and being the only one to have finished every meal.

After dinner, Jacob and I sat out at a café and watched Serbia pull out ahead of Northern Ireland 1-0 in the EuroCup qualifiers, then headed back to the hostel.

I've also hooked up my twitter to my phone, so expect updates there. I added a feed from my twitter on the side bar of this blog too.

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