Friday, January 14, 2011

добро дошли у Нишу! Welcome to Niš!

Sorry for the lack of posts as of late, on January ninth we said goodbye to Novi Sad and welcomed Niš as our new home and we've been kept pretty busy adjusting to a new family, school, city, work, etc.

A little information about Niš:
Though we haven't been here too long and this is the only place we've been to in Southern Serbia so far, when I compare Niš to the villages and cities I've seen in Northern Serbia they hardly feel like the same country. Niš is a city in Southern Serbia about 4 hours from Novi Sad, but those 4 hours seem much greater as there are vast differences between the two cities. Novi Sad is the capital the autonomous region of Vojvodina and because of that many Novi Sadians tend to separate themselves from the rest of Serbia. To put the autonomous region claim in perspective Kosovo (before independence) also carried that title so some in Novi Sad claim they could break from Serbia as Kosovo did but they wouldn't because Serbia really relies on this province for a significant amount of the country's production and foremost because Vojvodina's relationship to Serbia isn't full of hatred caused ethnic and religious tensions. Vojvodinians might regard themselves as better than the rest of Serbia but they haven't been in constant disagreement for centuries.

Anyway back to Niš, it is the third largest city in Serbia located on the Nišava river, one with much more rapid waters than those of the Dunav in Novi Sad. Niš is an industrial center for Serbia with electronic, mechanical engineering, textile, and tobacco industries. The largest visible difference between Novi Sad and Niš is in the architecture. Niš was under the more Eastern Ottoman rule for 500 years whereas the Austro-Hungarian empire ruled Vojvodina creating an arena more akin to the Western world. I haven't seen much of Western or Eastern Europe but we've been told a similar relationship exists between Northern and Southern Serbia. The topography of Niš is much different too as Novi Sad is a flatland but there are many hills and mountains in and around Niš. To be honest I'm very happy about this difference because I lived on a mountain all of my conscious life and Hawaii is anything but flat so I'd been missing peaks and valleys. And just a fun factoid, Constantine the Great was born in Niš!

When we told people in Novi Sad that we'd spend the second half of our program in Niš we almost consistently received looks of confusion and pity followed by a very exaggerated "što?" or "why?" but said with such emphasis that it implied "what the heck are you thinking/why are you doing that to yourself?". We heard more times than we can count how people in Niš talk too fast and don't use cases (meaning they don't speak grammatically correct), and while we know stereotypes exist everywhere it was hard not to listen to these remarks and ones more snide as they came from literally everyone. Fortunately our travels through Niš have been very pleasant and I might even go as far as to say I prefer the atmosphere of Niš since it feels more humble and homey.

Nišava reka (river)

Niška tvrđava, Niš fortress

Some fun in the Niš fortress and our instinctual reaction whenever we see play equipment

Anyway, that's all for now. When I get more settled I'll be sure to write about my family, work, and more! Prijatan dan, have a good day!

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