Gardens of Dushanbe

The closeness to nature that is experienced throughout Tajikistan is also reflected in the multitude of gardens that the capital, Dushanbe, contains. Many of them originate from the Soviet era, but the Tajik government has also clearly placed a lot of effort in constructing new ones, especially those surrounding the Nowruz Palace. Overall, the city’s …

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Visiting a Jailau in Kazakhstan

Though Kazakhs pride themselves on their nomadic legacy, very few Kazakhs still engage in nomadic pastoralism. Due to the forced sedentarization started under Imperial Russian control and intensified under the Soviet Union in the late 1920s and early 1930s, Kazakhs today almost entirely live in apartments and houses. The yurt, and the way of life …

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Sights and Sounds of Sarajevo: A Portrait of New Beginnings

It’s hard to believe that three weeks have already passed by seemingly without me even realizing. It’s strange how time passes unceremoniously when you are faced with a change in nearly all your circumstances. A new country, new living arrangements, new teachers, new classes, new friends, new sights, new sounds—new language…it’s hardly a shock the …

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Language and Music in Sarajevo

Heading into my final week of language classes in Sarajevo, I must admit I’m finding it difficult to home in on a focus for this blog post. I have experienced so many wonderful events, met so many inspiring people, listened to and watched so many invigorating musical performances, and traveled to so many new places. …

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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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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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