I leave for my study abroad semester in Croatia tomorrow afternoon, and 10 hours before my departure I decided I’m going to bring a Uke with me. Do I play the ukulele? I know a chord or two, but..not really, no. Will I learn to play ukulele? I might pick up a few more chords, but honestly, all I need to know how to play is Jason Mraz’s “I’m yours” and for the most part I’ll be good. Will I play it a lot? Hopefully, but who knows, maybe I wont at all. Why am I giving you the answers to so many questions you definitely never thought on an anecdote to a larger, seemingly more important story?
I’m getting to something, I promise.
For the next four months I will be studying abroad at Dubrovnik International University in Dubrovnik, Croatia. My travels will take me to an obscure, vastly under-traveled part of Europe: The Balkan Peninsula. I plan to do most of my traveling through Countries like Croatia, Bosnia, Slovenia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Romania. This corner of Europe has had a very recent turbulent history and seen some dark times that can only be looked back on as a sad, unnecessary mistake. However, in the last two decades the Former Yugoslavia and its surrounding have made an incredible comeback, and its rich culture and natural beauty are once again shining through.
While my travels will take me to most of the ex-Yugoslavian land, the majority of my travel will be done within my host country Croatia. My reasoning for this is I don’t want to treat this like a four month vacation on the beach in Dubrovnik (which, in all reality I could do and probably enjoy it just as much. Get a tan. Just kidding I don’t tan, I burn. I could get a sunburn in a well-lit classroom….anyways you get it.). Instead, I want to live in Dubrovnik as a Croatian College student. I want to know the culture, the people, the food, the land, ..the food. I want to find that bakery; you know, the one that you have to take a two hour bus to get to the train station that’ll take you there? yeah, that one. They supposedly have the best povitica bread. I want a kayak out a few miles down the Adriatic coast to that great cliff diving spot where you can see 30 feet, or some distance in meters down to the ocean floor. By the end of this four months, I hope the only thing holding you back from full-blown believing I was from Croatia is my very obvious foreign skin complexion and hair color. Will all of this actually happen? Probably not all of it, but, you know how that whole ‘shoot for the stars’ thing goes.
Now, back to the uke story. As I was getting ready for bed on departure’s eve I did a final walk through to make sure I wasn’t forgetting anything. For some reason, the Ukulele that has been sitting undisturbed on top of my dresser for all of winter break caught my eye. Since I will be traveling to relatively un-touristed areas of Europe that might not have much open-source wifi and quirky snapchat geotags, I’d need something to entertain myself. And since I was traveling alone, I can totally get away with being that douche who travels with a Uke. I mean, I doubt I’ll run into anyone I know on a train through Bosnia. So, screw it, I’m goin bring a Uke.
It was right then that the theme for this semester (and conveniently this blog) was conceived: The part of my brain that got me to bring an instrument with me that I didn’t really know how to play too well because “why not, it could be fun” will, from here on forward, be running the show. I will let the world become a playground of possibility, seldom passing up opportunities for a new adventure. I want to get lost in a town where no one speaks English. I want to get my ass kicked in soccer by a group of locals. I want to listen to the old lady in the coffee shop babbling on about nothing. I want to meet a group of travelers and be that douche in the group that I would normally hate (love) with the Uke playing Jason Mraz’s “I’m yours”. Why? Because…ehh, why not?
Finally I want to share all of this with you. I will be doing my best to keep this blog updated with things I experience when traveling, conversations with locals I meet, pictures I take, dope Uke jams, and anything else I find interesting. This blog has no schedule; I will post when I have something to post about. Seeing that my departure is tomorrow, that won’t be for a while. But I doubt anyone is reading this far.
Next Stop: Hrvatska