Christmas in March!
Forget about an “early spring.” The ground hog is a big, fat liar.
In Copenhagen, it feels like spring is never going to come at all! I’m still sloshing through the snow, and it’s almost April. Sure, it’s getting brighter every day. But when the sky is overcast with snow clouds most of the time, it looks more like Christmas than Easter. Bundled up in my winter jacket, leather boots and furry hat, I look like a giant Eskimo on the Iditarod. I’m speed-walking in between classes, cranking up the heater, and soaking up the “hygge” in warm cafes.
I was actually singing “Let it Snow” in the shower yesterday, and friends are planning snow ball fights at our kollegium (quote from Facebook page: “ATTENTION HOFFMANS! JAKE WANTS TO HAVE A SNOWBALL FIGHT STARTING AT 11:30PM. AKA 23:30. MEET IN THE LOBBY AND GET READY TO GET ROCKED)
I need to thaw. I desperately want to go south – and luckily, I’m headed there next week. For the first half, I’ll be in Sarajevo with my Humanitarian Law class. Seriously, Sarajevo! As the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, we’ll be studying the Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s, the messiest European conflict since the Second World War. Whereas other students are going to the more “mainstream” cities like London, Paris, or Berlin, our core class is really going off-the-beaten path. When else will I really get a chance to see Sarajevo? To relive the terrible massacre at Srebrenica? To interview journalists and diplomats that handled the Dayton Accords? To talk to the victims of one of the defining conflicts of the modern era? And I’m experiencing all of this with two professors who, as lawyers and soldiers in the Danish military, directly participated in the Balkan conflict.
My expectations are high. But after my fantastic DIS trip to Russia, I think this will be yet another surreal opportunity.
And as a politics/religion nut, Bosnia is right up my alley. It is a country defined by political and religious tension. Catholic Croats, Muslim Bosniaks, and Orthodox Serbs live together in an uneasy peace, held together by intense international pressure. (Sidenote: the flag looks awesome, with the three corners of the triangle representing these three groups).
There’s been a lot of criticism of the international response; some say the Dayton Accords have simply institutionalized the ethnic problems that caused the conflict in the first place. The country is divided into regions based on ethnicity, and there is a three-man presidency that includes one member from each ethnic group.
On the way home, I’ll be stopping in Vienna for three days over Easter weekend. April will be packed, with a week-long trip to Ukraine and possibly even Florence. Summer plans are starting to materialize, and it looks like I’ll be back in D.C. once again. Those 100-degree July days are going to feel really, really nice. In the meantime, Denmark better step up its game.