Having a connecting flight, I had already been traveling for several hours when I heard an announcement that we would be landing soon to Belgrade. After looking out from the airplane window I could easily recognise the land being different beneath us. Everywhere the landscape was totally flat and covered by fields. Then for my own surprise I realised that the amazingly clear and sunny weather opened a line of sight to a lonely mountain covered by trees. Next to the mountain lies a city that would become my home for the next six months: Novi Sad.
On a rather ordinary appearing day in September, I exit the terminal of Nikola Tesla airport, near Belgrade, Serbia. It is + 31 C, and I am wearing my hiking boots with woolen socks. A local friend has come to pick me up with his dad’s car. I scramble for a seatbelt that doesn’t exist, and mumble something about making a law about having seatbelts in cars, to which my friend cheerfully replies: ”Oh, it is a law”. As we drive to Novi Sad, in a car that is in Finnish standards un-drivable, through small villages with dirty unclothed children petting scruffy stray dogs, only one thought frantically blinks in my head: I will not survive here. The culture shock is evident.
Thankfully, when we arrive to Novi Sad, the environment is drastically different. Wide streets lined with colourful and unique buildings and people that look well of and seem friendly and warm, countless of restaurants and coffee places tucked away in small idyllic pedestrian streets, with huge terraces that have brightly coloured chairs. One would never believe, that two places so fundamentally different exist merely tens of kilometres away from each other. Continue reading A story of a Finn learning to let go