After more than one week abroad the departure day was here. We left our Airbnb in Priština around 8 since our plane was suppose to departure around 11, but it got delayed 1 hour so we got some time to eat breakfast at the airport. Since there was no direct flights home available we got a lay over in Dusseldorf before taking the plane to Stockholm. Even though it was really great to be back home it was also hard to say good-bye to everyone and leave each other since we after one week close to each other really became good friends and felt like we knew each other much longer. But I am certain it was not a “good-bye hug” but “see you soon hug”.
Sitting on the bus home from the airport all the things we had experienced seemed slightly overwhelming. But a small rock was also lifted from my shoulders while sitting surrounded by my newly found friends, looking back at the past week. The trip we had all been preparing, pictured before us and longing for so long was now almost over. And how amazing had it not turned out! I smiled for my self as realizing all this. I am sure to tell you that none of us was disappointed in our eight days of travelling thought Western Balkans.
When the first flight took off from Arlanda, the 14 of us didn’t really know each other that well. What united us were, “only”, our strong common interests in foreign affairs. But that doesn’t really tell you much about how travelling and living tightly together would be. Now I can say that it have all been so good. We’re like a well-oiled machine. No major discussions, being able to decide together what to eat, sharing bathrooms and not being late for (almost) any meeting! I am impressed, to say the least. This has been a group of incredibly kind, well-informed, fun (!!!) and intelligent people. The countless political discussions, exchange of knowledge and many waves of laughter have been themes of this trip. Being able to intensely discuss the things come across our trip has been indescribably valuable. So what have we actually brought with us from this UF-trip? On the bus home to Uppsala, we discussed some of the key elements of the trip and what it has meant for us. The phrase ’objective truth’ was mentioned several times.
The meetings we’ve had have varied a lot. The gap between the Jobbik parliamentary group leader Márton Gyöngyösi and Sofija Vrbaški from Kvinna to Kvinna is significantly wide. These different meetings also reflect very different perspectives the trip has covered, such as ethnicity, the Yugoslavia wars, the EU and Kosovo. The divisions of opinion have throughout the meetings been more or less clearly portrayed. Some people were very straightforward in the opinions, whilst others presented their political views in a more discreet way: by painting their perception of reality. One of the main goals with this trip was to gain further knowledge on the Western Balkans – mainly since it is seldom reported on in Swedish media. Throughout our different meetings, this goal showed to be slightly more complicated than it first appeared.
The very many varying views made it hard to know what was true and who to trust (especially since the conflict is still hot). Therefore, one of the insights we acquired was that everyone is biased and finding objective truth is sometimes complex. Even though there are solids facts, there will always be manipulated in different interest. To deal with this myself, I’ve started to see it as a puzzle of knowledge of some sort. Every time you meet someone or gain new information, there is always something you can take with you. There is always one puzzle piece of useful information. The more information you gain, the more pieces you can piece together and form your own idea of the world. Preferably as close to the truth as possible. This was also a way to see all meetings as valuable, even though you may not agree with the person to 100%. Because all the meetings have been very interesting and oh! Have we learned a lot!
To wrap this up: the things I’ll miss the most is probably travelling together with these incredibly kind people with the foremost goal to widen our knowledge and understanding. This has been such a privilege. Also, isn’t going a new place the most fun there is?! I never feel more alive! The best thing about leaving will be not being constantly surrounded by a thick cloud of cigarette smoke! Oh, the places we’ve been, oh the things we have seen. Thank you, everyone, for making this a trip to remember!
James Janani and Ebba Berg Gorgén
Note from Travel Coordinator Fredrika: I cannot do anything but agree with the writers above – An amazing group, so much knowledge gained and a fantastic trip. Just as most trips with UF, if you ask me. If you’ve become curious of travelling with the UF Travel Group don’t hesitate to join the facebook group, e-mail me at email@example.com or pop by the UF Office to say hi! Next semester there will be a new trip, and the preparations will start already in january. Happy Holidays!