This blog post is coming fairly late, only because it has been an incredibly busy past week and a half with work, and I have been working to get all my ducks in a row before I leave. Speaking of, I will be back home one week from today, which is so hard to believe. Since this is my second to last blog post, I am going to start doing some of my reflections in this post, because I have a lot I want to reflect on.
Skopje Social Scene
One of the most noticeable things about the social scene in Macedonia is how much emphasis is put on time. Macedonia is a slow-moving society, and spending quality-time with friends and family is what’s most important. I had the chance to go out to dinner with my coworkers this week as a good-bye of sorts, and what I thought would be a short, ninety minute dinner turned into a three and a half hour dinner filled with multiple courses. The entire time, nothing felt forced or weird – it was a good ending to the time with my coworkers.
Skopje doesn’t have a lot of clubs, but there are lots of coffee shops and bars where the same emphasis is placed. Yesterday, the other UMich intern Halle and I got a drink before she flew out today, and the workers were in no rush to move us out. In fact, if we hadn’t flagged them down multiple times, they definitely would have let us stay there all day. This mentality is something I would really like to bring back to Michigan, focusing more on spending time with friends and family.
Art, Architecture, and the Home
Skopje is still trying to shed some of its communist skin from the bygone era, and part of that is through the art. The building my office is in is a perfect example – the architecture of the building is from the the sixties, but it has been painted to be bright red and yellow. Additionally, there are two murals at the entrance to the building that look like mindless graffiti, but haven’t been painted over, and have no plans to be. In the same way that graffiti is sometimes used in New York and other big cities as a form of self-expression, that also beautifies the city, graffiti is being used here to make Skopje younger.
Even my apartment is an old building from the sixties, with no elevator and a very decrepit exterior, but most of the apartments have been renovated on the inside, including my own. I’m really curious to see what Skopje will look like in five years time.
With just a week to go, I’m basically counting down the days until I can come home and be back with my family. I love Skopje, and I love the work that I do, but getting back home and then to Michigan will be good.