Day Zero - Arrival
Got on my bus from Zagreb, Croatia to Belgrade, Serbia at 9am (a total of 5h30min). I had mixed feelings. I was actually going to work as an Intern at MUNPlanet in Belgrade. This was a plan I had been working hard on since November, and now it’s finally happening.
I was picked up from the bus station by Vlado. Indeed, a great guy with whom I had been communicating with since the summer of 2016, when I uploaded a video about MUNPlanet on my Youtube channel to spread the good news about such an efficient and inspiring Platform that will give you the content that will lead you to being engaged and active.I was taken to the office and meet part of the team and, afterwards, we had dinner at a traditional Serbian restaurant (Tri Sesira, meaning Three hats), where I had probably the best dinner of my life (the portion of the food were gigantic). To my surprise, a group of traditional folkloric singers played soulful music. It was definitely the cherry on top of the cake, a complete night with exquisite food and pleasant music.
Day one - Let the fun begin!
Work started at 10am. I was introduced to more members of the team. I was assigned on the same desk beside the Founder of MUNPlanet (CEO), Dusanka Ilic (trying not to feel the pressure).
I received my welcome package and read my assignments for the week. It is really exciting. I realized every duty I have been given has been well thought about, taking into account my abilities and skills.
The team work, love, helping hands at the office is amazing. This environment is so positive and caring. Now, I understand why I would want to spend a whole day at the office. We had breakfast together, delicious snacks from the bakery.
Finished work at 4pm. I was taken to the Belgrade Fortress, where we went for a walk in the park (Kalemegdan Park), near the center of the city.
I also saw the Military museum, (located in the Fortress) from 1878 with over 3000 ancient and modern items, such as, Greek helmets and daggers, Serbian heavy knight's armor, axes, shields, helmets, crossbows, armoured gloves, etc.
The beauty of the city was magnified when I saw the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers. Although I was freezing (I would transfer the weather from Barcelona to Belgrade), the view was worth it, but I am really hoping for a bright day, sunny or not, just to spend a day in that same spot.
Day two - Living the life!
I made it “alone” to the office. Worked on my content for the videos I will be creating. My mind is blowing with ideas.
The office is cool! No joke! We were listening to music. We sang, I, Vlado and Milan.
Friends from Spain came to visit me in Belgrade, so I showed them around the office.
In the evening, I did a 2 hours free English tour 4pm till 7pm. I learned more about history. We spoke about Yugoslavia and, of course, were offered Rakija by our tour guide. Rakija is a popular fruit brandy among South Slavs. “Maybe comparable to Vodka” (maybe…). It’s especially popular in Serbia, Bulgaria, Croatia, B&H, Macedonia and Montenegro- Balkan Regions. It was not my first experience with Rakija, but this one was sweeter, which I prefer.
We were exactly at Skadarlija (for now, my top spot in the city centre). Skadarlija is a vintage street, located in Stari Grad (Old town) and the main bohemian quarter of Belgrade, similar to Paris' Montmartre (seriously). Here you will find Djura Jaksic (Serbian poet, painter, writer, dramatist, bohemian), who after spending a day without alcohol ended up congratulating himself for his resistance, by drinking Rakija at the end of that day. YES! That’s how important Rakija is.
To end the day, I went to one of the famous cafes in the city.Cafes are everywhere!
Day three - Lights! Camera!ACTION!
Got to the office and had a great breakfast with the others. I was so excited to start working on the video. I had my ideas on paper, like a script, and with the help of Vlado and Ana, we started recording. I made an introductory video to MUNplanet talking about the infinite world of opportunities out there for students. Funny bloopers could not be avoided.
As always we listened to Music: Eminem, Nelly.I love this place!Milanis THE singer. He has got the X-FACTOR.
We went for lunch. Burger was really good! I did some tourism with my friends, and we visited Sveti Sava (Saint Sava), an orthodox church. Beautiful building. We took many pictures.
It was getting cold, so we went to a café for hot chocolate and pastry.
Day four - GOOD NEWS!
I woke up so excited today when I opened my eye from my bed and I saw a beautiful sunny day ahead of me. The sun was shining and I could immediately feel it would be a nice day.
At the office, Duska broke the amazing news to me. She is the best. I will be participating as a chair in , East of Turkey. All costs covered. Wow, just woow (so excited, so lucky, so blessed).
I finished work and went out with a friend to a new Café (AVIATOR). The setting is soo bright, relaxing but also fun. Later, at night, a friend and I came across a bar called Ispod Mosta, with live Serbian turba folk music (more info: Turbo-folk - Wikipedia). Guess what, despite the fact that many people are not fans of this type of music, I thought it was OK. Of course, I have NO Serbian linguistic skills but the rhythm was good.
Day four/five - Weekend fun
I slept till really late on Saturday and just watched movies: Hidden Figures (a new movie about three brilliant African-American women working at NASA, who served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit), just inspirational and highly recommend it.
Sunday, workday! I recorded two videos for my YOUTUBE channel called 👉 NINJANSPIRATION(click) . This time I talked about my fun journey learning Arabic and why we should all learn this beautiful language.
Day five- Work it!
Updated my blog. Worked on my Youtube VIDEOS NINJANSPIRATION. Went for a walk in the city centre on a sunny day. Belgrade traffic gets really interesting around 2pm until 4pm. Way better to walk than public transport.
Day six - Valentine!!
Happy valentine's day everybody!! Nothing more special than celebrating it at the office. Music is the key to our soul.
Enjoy me dancing around at the office!! If you want to hire me, just let me dance every now and then, and I will be the most hardworking employee ever.
Day seven/eight - National Holiday!
Straight after valentine's day, two free days for everyone. Feels like they understand all the lovers needed it. Anyways, it felt more like a weekend to me. In Molerova street where I live, there was a protest against the government building the Waterfront, which would be built in the old part of the river bank. People are definitely not ready to lose the historical part of their beloved White city, Belgrade. The politicians basically want to build a Mini Dubai. I agree with the citizens it does not fit in. The protest was pacific, I saw it from my window and the MUSIC! Nice! Many young people where there, so you can see youths are getting engaged in the society and they want to have a say in what happens.
I set myself a goal. Learn basic Serbian. My host mother is helping me with that. I have some sentenced nailed down, and hopefully by the end of the Internship, I will be able to have a 20 minutes conversation with Serbs, Croats, Bosnians and Montenegrins. Will make an update about my progress very soon. For now, I can introduce myself and basic greetings.
Day ten – Mother Language Day!
Lot of work to do. Writing a Study guide as a chair of a MUN.
I attended an event called LANGUAGE CAFÉ at Kulturni centar GRAD celebrating the UNESCO International Mother Language Day. Here you get to practice your language skills and talk with native speaker and meet a lot of people, which I did.
Still writing a Study guide for. Completing my tasks: post questions, answers and comments.
After work, I was so excited to go for a walk, so I strolled through Knez Mihajlova, a pedestrian zone, and there was a parade of "sergeant" ladies, dancing joyfully in a typical costume.
Have a look.
Day twelve - Keep calm!!
A day full of work at the office. Got home and had a talk about life, love, relationships, history with my host mother. And made a new video.🎉📢 I call myself #ninjanspiration 🙅🙅on #Youtube. I give info about #international #mobility. ✈✈🌍🌏 Here is a PREVIEW😙😜. 🙉Check out my #channel👉 FULL VidEO--ARABIC👇 ENJOY!
Day thirteen - Let’s travel!
Dusanka told me I would be joining on a trip to Banja Luka. I left the office and got to the bus station where I would be picked up by car to go Banja Luka. It was a rainy afternoon, and I have learnt now to not trust the weather. I woke up to a sunny day then before I realized it the weather just went bad. I was confident it would be a good day and did not listen to the weather forecast about the rain, so I did not take a bigger jacket. Moreover, our ride was suppose to be 4 hours to Banja Luka, but the rain and the heavy Belgrade traffic turned a 4 hours journey into a whole evening journey, we left Belgrade around 16:30h and arrived at our destination at 23h.
I am a simple passenger, so I slept throughout the whole ride. Upon our arrival, we visited a friend of Zvejezdana and Jovana (both work at Impact Hub Belgrade), and there I met a lovely lady, married to a Spanish man from Barcelona, so I spoke Spanish the whole night during my first hours in Bosnia and Herzegovina. That was such a long day.
Day fourteen - Ćevapi LOOVE! (READ this if you are a food lover, we all are)!
I went to the city centre to discover Banja Luka. My impression of this city is great. It is small but big enough to do everything. The river side is beautiful, the castle, the market side. Orthodox churches beside mosques.
I was given the chance to give a talk on my experience on international mobilityand I was more than grateful and happy to do so, because there is nothing I am most enthusiastic and proud of as I am about international experiences and youth growth in the field of education.
At the end ofmy little speech which I started with some basic Serbian sentences I learnt to introduce myself, felt the warmth and acceptance of the audience which was formed by young students around the ages of 20 to 30.
It was indeed a great experience. The setting and the locaton of the event was every uplifting and welcoming. It was a huge success.
After that, it was lunch time. I was more than excited to eat the one and onlyBosnia and Herzegovina food, I had been waiting for Ćevapcici,That's how good it is. Dreams come true.Worth traveling to this beautiful country just to eat this. Can't wait to go to Sarajevo and taste how good it is also there. Ćevapi also known as “Ćevapcici”, the dish of minced meat, popular in #Bosnia and #Herzegovina.
Day fifteen - Sleep day!
I just slept, woke up, tried to get up but slept again. Then continued working on the Study guide on world-health-organization for Munef.
Ended my day with some fun salsa. Just imagine, I was in a place calledBarrio Latino, which is a street in Belgrade, where you can Salsa, Bachata and Kizomba all you want. Really cool place for lovers of latin dance.
This is how I feel every time I find a#fullyfunded#opportunityto#study#abroad🎉📢#ninjanspiration🙅🙅on#Youtube. I give info about#international#mobility#free#study #abroad.✈✈🌍🌏
Here is a PREVIEW😙😜.🙉Check out my#channel👉
FULL VidEO✈✈OPPORTUNITY TIME: click 👉 OPPORTUNITY TIME - How to get SCHOLARSHIPS TO STUDY. - YouTubeENJOY!
Friday+WEEKEND - 3 Fs FOOD! Football! Fun!
A day to be excited for Dusanka, Vlado and I left the office around 18h to travel to Dushi's hometown called Lucani, in the central western part of Serbia, more on the country side. We were driven by a very kind gentleman called Marko, one of Duska's best friends. 4 hours later, we arrived at our destination, Dushi's home and were welcomed by her parents with a wonderful HUGE dinner (little did I know that my weekend would be all about food).
The next day, Saturday,beautiful and absolutely sunny day, more like summer, we went for brunch. Vlado taught me more Serbian words and grammar. What a BRUNCH!! Food everywhere. We also had Kajmak, a cheese with a kind of butterish taste, UKUSNO (means delicious in Serbian).
During this time, we were joined byDushi's friends. One of them is asport trainer for kids in primary school in Luceni, and Jovan works in a Tourism agency in Belgrade. After the enormous Brunch, we went to watch the football matchMladostvs Novi Pazar, interesting facts for football fans: Milan Bojovic, is like an hero in Lucani, since he is from there, and Odita, a Nigerian football plays who for Mladost was also there, and I cheered them with this video.
We continued after the match, to watch the kids playing basketball, these kids are amazing, they can move and play really well(sincerely it was more fun to watch them than the football match,more emotion).We ended the day with a car ride, to the monastery, unfortunately, it was closed. We wen to the bridge hereEmre Örendil was, when he did his internship, very nice. We went home, and of course again, more food. I confess I love paprika, delicious!
ALL ABOUT FOOD! SERBIAN HOSPITALITY--GREAT!
On Sunday, woke up and more food, this time I am about to explode. Then we went to Dushi's aunt's house, where we were just suppose to stay for 5 minutes, but you know Serbian time, hahaha, 5 minutes is just symbolical, we stayed for 2 hours, and were offered more snacks and rakia, I had it all. We also went to her uncle' s and grandma's house, and more snacks and definitely more TEA. When we arrived home, and I was asked to eat more, and I just couldn’t anymore.
MY WEEKEND WAS ALL ABOUT FOOD. We left around 19h from Lucani and got back to Belgrade. It was a simply great very fun and full of food weekend.
Day twenty-four/five –Smiles!
Everybody had a busy day at the office, because there was a webinar. I went around the city with my friends. And ended up at salsa again. Belgrade should be called the city of Salsa.
On the weekend, I had a photo session with my friends who I met Language Café Belgrade. We went around Belgrade Fortress (Kalemegdan Park) for 2 hours to see and capture this beautiful city. The weather was not in our favour, it was really cold. Nevertheless, we managed and survived, after that we went for hot drinks, which we definitely needed.
Day twenty- six – Let’s go for a walk!
At the officeSara and I are working on finding interesting and engaging youth organizations who are achieving the sustainable goals of the UN.
Later, I went for a walk at the site where they are constructing BELGRADE WATERFALL! Vlado and I talked about it and even if it is odd and the idea of making a mini Dubai in the city seems unacceptable, the pictures of what the place will look like looks really nice but maybe it will only become a place for the rich, who will have great views in their apartment to the RIVER SAVA.
Walking around the RIVER SAVA was great and the view is just unique. Just come to BELGRADE, TO SEE yourself.
Day twenty- eight – Let’s learn a new language!
Edited a video, finally I can handle Adobe premiere. I met a friend to learn Serbian, I think I am improving but I can hardly remember the words.
Day twenty-nine – Let’s talk about Nigeria!Today was a long and productive day. I worked on two new posts about POETRY SLAM(click) and Finding one's self: teenagehood to adulthood (click). Afterwards, I met with a friend to learn Arabic. Then, I was invited to an high school in the center of the city to talk about Nigeria, my home country, where I was born.
Day twenty- nine – Arabic classes!
Work at the office. I attended an Arabic class, at the faculty of Philology, it was good to become a foreign student again. The teacher who was giving the class, was a Moroccan Arabic teacher, with so much passion and a lot to say, the class for oral standard Arabic, and after the lesson, my head was about to blow.Let’s say, I understood 30 % of all he said for 2 hours.
I later on went home and planned to go out to a party, to celebrate Saint Patrick's day at the American embassy with Marins. At night, there was a big Latin and Spanish party and it was so full.
The LONG good WEEKEND!
On Saturday and On Sunday, I visited Zemun, an urban neighborhood and one of 17 city municipalities that constitute the city of Belgrade, the capital of Serbia. The historical town of Zemun, it was separated from Belgrade until 1934, Wikipedia. It was a very nice town and the view to Belgrade is amazing.
Day twenty- nine – Sunset again!
Worked on an article and posted about CREATING NEW HABITS (finish a book every day) click. Trying to challenge myself! I then spent the afternoon with Spanish friends in Ada Ciganlija, shortened to Ada, is a river island that has artificially been turned into a peninsula, located in the Sava River's course through central Belgrade, the capital of Serbia. The name can also refer to the adjoining artificial Lake Sava and its beach.
Day thirty – AFRICAN MUSUEM!
The day began with an epic fail. I recorded a video and mistakenly delete it. Lesson learnt! Now I am terrified to delete any file, even the unnecessary ones. Later, I went with two professors to the AFRICAN MUSUEM, highly recommended and went for a café around that area, which is where the embassies are. Amazing place, very peaceful and beautiful neighbourhood in Belgrade. I ended the day at t the LANGUAGE café, great as always.
Day thirty-one – Learning!
Today was an exciting day because I was invited to give a presentation about Nigeria at a High school. The experience was very positive and the students were glad to hear about Nigeria from a native and there were indeed participative. Afterwards, I was supposed to also do the same speech at a private University because I met a professor who wanted me to speak to his students. This changed and we ended up doing it in a more informal way, meaning we went to café and I still talked about Nigeria and the other 6 people present also spoke about many interesting topics, like ethnogenetics and the Slavs, since we are in Belgrade.
Day thirty-two and three – Farewell!
After work, I went outside and feed some pigeons that were just wandering around. On Friday, I recorded a video about the Yoruba Language. It is very interesting! Release due soon! In the evening, I had a lovely time at Skadarlija with Ana and my friend with whom I have been discovering Belgrade with for the past 1 month, since it was her last day in the city.
The last supper the last weekend.
On Saturday, Ana Jankovic and I decide to go by foot instead of by bike around Zemun and the whole river side. Conclusion: we walked for 5 hours and my feet was completely hurting. On Sunday, I attended a new language café called Polyglot café, met new people, and practised my Serbian. IT was a success for their first time, many people showed up.
I came to work excited but sad it was the last day. I had a surprise cake which tasted fantastically amazing. I went with Vlado do record my last video about all my experience in Belgrade during this 2 months. The video was really fun to record, I can highlight moments like when I sang a song in Serbian which Dusanka really loves, like an ode to the city of Belgrade. The songs goes like: “Beograde, Beograde na ušću dveju reka ispod Avale”, meaning, "Belgrade, Belgrade, at the confluence of two rivers under Avala". This song definitely refers to this beautiful view of the river.
Although, I was exhausted, I still managed to go to the University to give my last talk about Nigeria and it ended up to be long, for 2 hours, but very much fun, since we went deep into the Nigerian English broken/pidgin, and how it differs to Standard English.
I got home more than exhausted but satisfied at the BEAUTY AND GROWTH in my experience in Belgrade.WORDS like Belgrade, Balkans, Serbia, Kafana, the slang "Bre", Chevapi, Burek and Pita, will FOREVER bring a smile to my face and melt my heart with happiness from all the good memories I have made in this city and the people involved in it.