A Weekend in L’viv, Ukraine

This weekend, my friends and I decided to take a brief trip to L’viv, a city in western Ukraine, having read about the rich cultural offerings of this city that had spent more time under Polish than Russian and Soviet control and heard amazing things about L’viv from people we had met in Kyiv. We …

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My Host Family

During my first three weeks in Belgrade, I have been constantly amazed at the warmth and hospitality of my host family. Due to flight delays, I didn’t arrive in Serbia until well after midnight on a weekday, but my host family was eagerly awaiting me when I finally made it to their home. They had …

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A Heartfelt Gift From My Host Mom

On the second floor of my host family’s village house, I was given one of the sweetest gifts I’ve ever received - a bag of old threads and a few half-finished embroideries. Sounds glamorous, I know. The backstory explains all. Two summers ago, I lived in Sofia, Bulgaria as a participant in the Balkan Language …

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Discovering the Russian Coffee Scene

Read most travel forums and information pages about Russia and you will probably be left with the impression that the country is a coffee desert. As someone who put their liberal arts degree to good use in the craft coffee industry (see barista) I appreciate a good cup of coffee and have to admit that …

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Kazakh Wedding Ceremonies

I arrived in Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest city, to a very busy host family. In addition to welcoming a curious American into their house for the summer, they were also preparing for one of the three to four ceremonies (spread out over a few months) that comprise a Kazakh wedding. This particular ceremony, called the sırğa …

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First Impressions of Azerbaijan

For the past four days, my program (Peace and Security in the South Caucasus) has been privileged to tour Baku and a few other places in Azerbaijan—one of Georgia’s neighboring countries. Prior to this brief trip, I had never been to Azerbaijan and it was interesting to finally see the country we had discussed this …

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Attending a Champions League Match in Serbia

On July 16 Crvena zvezda (known in English as Red Star), one of Belgrade’s two famous football clubs, played the second leg of two matches against the Lithuanian Club FK Suduva in the first qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League. The first leg in Lithuania had ended in a 0-0 draw, and they met …

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Exploring the Outdoors in Tajikistan

With most of the country covered in mountainous terrain, Tajikistan is a heaven for anyone who enjoys hiking and being outdoors. Within a few hours’ driving distance from the capital Dushanbe, there are numerous excellent locations for trekking, especially in the Zerafshan Valley and in the Fan Mountains. Further away, the Pamir Mountains offer far-removed …

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Language Encounters and Heat in Almaty

I was born in San Francisco and then raised across the bridge in Marin County. Summer nights were spent either lounging on the dock of my neighbor’s house while sipping on ice cold orange juice, or hiking through towering redwood trees. Sometimes the weather climbed to 27 °C and I’d complain about the injustice of …

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