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I bid farewell to Cleveland yesterday afternoon and after connecting in DC and Frankfurt, arrived in Belgrade around 1:30pm local time. After saying a few prayers, I was lucky enough to find a friendly Serbian gentlemen in baggage claim to help me wheel all of my baggage out of the airport (I had no idea how I was going to manage that, so this was a huge relief!). After passing the customs declaration I found Misha (who drives often for American Councils) waiting for me.

My first impression? Belgrade is hot, hot hot right now! It was at least 95 degrees when I arrived and I was told that just two days earlier it was even hotter, so I count myself lucky for having missed that! It was about a 20-30 minute drive to where I am staying from the airport. Misha told me that Belgrade’s main highway bridge is currently under construction creating huge traffic problems, but since it was Sunday we were able to cut through the center with ease. We arrived at the temporary apartment with my new landlady, Spoma, ready to greet me.

Serbia still requires foreigners to register withing 24 hours of arriving in country, so off to the police station we went. Once we arrived we were informed by the police that we had to purchase paper to make the registration (why would they have paper there?!) :). Then they told us that since it was Sunday there would be no stores open to purchase the paper so we would need to come back tomorrow. They refused to copy my passport or taken any additional information from me, frustrating Spoma completely. This situation reminded me so much of many similar experiences that I had while living in Bulgaria that all I could do is laugh and think to myself “Welcome back to Eastern Europe!”

Tomorrow, the permanent apartment hunt is on! I have my first realtor meeting at 9am with 5 apartments to view on tomorrow’s list. I am taking my camera and sending pictures back to Josh so we can choose a place. Very exciting.

For now, I should say goodnight — 1am here. Still can’t believe I am back in Eastern Europe!

Packing for Belgrade

It is 1:30 am on Thursday morning – House Hunters International in Italy is on in the background and I can’t help but think how much my life is going to change in just a couple of days….integrating back into Eastern European culture…. It will definitely be a bittersweet moment for me when I get on that plane, but I am doing my best to focus on the positive. Having not spent much time in Belgrade before, I am looking forward to returning to the city and to get to know it better. I am especially looking forward to meetings I have set up with real estate agents during my first week in Belgrade in order to find a home – that should be an adventure in itself!

I forgot what it is like to move to another country – and the previous experiences I have had were considered “temporary” so this is the first time I am actually trying to cram my whole life into only a few trunks. What a task! Even though I have gone through everything meticulously, it has still been difficult and I find myself having to consider everything as I drop it into a bag. The good news is that things are starting to come together.

Still so much to do before that plane on Saturday – back to packing!

Welcome!

Welcome to my new blog! I have decided to start a blog to write about living in Serbia – the ups and the downs that integrating into a new culture and place will bring. I hope it will be entertaining and a great way to keep in touch with everyone. Why “Istochna”? “Istochna” means “east” and that is exactly the way we are heading so it seems to fit this blog perfectly! I hope you enjoy reading the adventures along the way….6 days to Belgrade!