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Final Dispatch

June 20, 2008

I WAS LOOKING THROUGH MY ARCHIVE OF PHOTOS today, looking to see which ones might be worth putting in my last post before I archive the files to DVD and delete them from my hard drive. I had over 2000 pictures–that’s 17 gigs worth of photos–to look through… and I was surprised about two things: (1) Just how how many of those 2000 photos completely sucked and (2) how much I forgot in only the past couple weeks about our experiences there. This might be because I have a particularly bad memory–but I bet most of us would be at least a little bit surprised to look back at some pictures and be reminded of moments that we would have otherwise never thought of again.

So, with that being said, one last batch of pictures, mostly from our trips to Kotor, Budva, Mostar and Sarajevo and mostly of people, starting with my fellow CS students:


Kyle (Kotor, Montenegro)



Ian (Kotor, Montenegro)



Leah (Mostar, Bosnia)



Chris (Kotor, Montenegro)



Stacy (?)



Brad (Dubrovnik, Croatia)



And of course, our professor:


Professor Axel (Mali Ston, Croatia)


Now, some individuals who are not CS students, but ended up spending a lot time with the CS group:

? (Rest stop memorial, Bosnia)



Teo (Sarajevo, Bosnia)



A few pictures of groups of people:


Stacy, Chris and Kyle (behind ACMT, Dubrovnik, Croatia)




Ian, Kyle, Stacy and Chris (Kotor, Montenegro)



Chris and Kyle (Kotor, Montenegro)




Ted and Stacy (Budva, Montenegro)




Chris, Ted, monster dog, Sammy, Axel and Carrol (Mali Ston)




Chris, Leah and Stacy (Kotor, Montenegro)



?, cattle, Leah (on the road, Bosnia)



Kyle, Stacy, Brad, Leah, Ian (Kotor, Bosnia)



Kyle and Chris (ACMT Picnic, Dubrovnik, Croatia)

Chris, Leah, Teo, Zoran (Memorial rest stop, Bosnia)



Chris, Leah (Kotor, Montenegro)



Chris, Ian (Dubrovnik, Croatia)



Ian (rest stop memorial, Bosnia)



And, lastly, a picture of each of the places we visited, in the order we visited them:


Babin Kuk Apartment View



Rest stop on the way to Ston.



Mali Ston





Me and Brad’s Apartment View



The first stop we took on the way to Kotor



Kotor, Montenegro



Restaurant between Kotor and Budva



Budva, Montenegro






I have no pictures of Međugorje :(





Mostar, Bosnia



View off the bridge in Mostar



Food between Mostar and Sarajevo









Battle of Sutjeska memorial (I updated this to a newer tonemapped version of the less interesting original version, which can still be seen here - Tom 9/21/08)



At the border of Serbia (?) and Croatia


* * *


There are also quite a few pictures on my flickr that weren’t posted here (to save you wear on your scroll wheel). At some point in the future I’ll post all of these and more in one whopping album on facebook. Also, if you haven’t already, make sure you check out Lori’s video, which turned out fantastic.

This is my last post here and all future blog entries, mostly photos, will be at posted at once I finish setting it up.

If you reading this and you traveled with me, it was a pleasure travelling with you.

And I guess that wraps everything up.

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May 29, 2008

IT WAS MONDAY, 9 AM CROATIAN TIME (3 AM EASTERN TIME) THAT I smoked my last cigarette before getting in the cab to head to Dubrovnik Airport. That was about 3 days ago, and I think most of the symptoms of physical withdrawal (headaches, depression, general dysphoria) have subsided. What still lingers is purely psychological, and has more to do with leaving Dubrovnik than nicotine (I was smoking more than 2 packs a day for the last few weeks). The people, the culture, the beauty, the sense of wonder, awe and safety all at once disappear and you are suddenly forced to return to regular, normal, humdrum life–and it’s a little bit of a shock.

The night before I left I remember wishing RIT was on the semester system. Maybe it wouldn’t have seemed complete to me regardless of how much time we spend there, but I think another 5 weeks would have made the entire experience much more satisfying. I could feel the city starting to wear on me, but leaving I still felt like there was a lot left unexplored, and a lot I didn’t quite understand yet. Maybe if I spent more time in the museums, or doing other more touristy things I would felt more satisfied… I didn’t even get around to walking the walls in their entirety before I left.

But at the same time, because of the people I met I’ve done and experienced things that very, very few tourists of any kind could have in Dubrovnik, or any place really. I’ve had coffee with Croatians, meet them, talked about personal things, I’ve seen their lifestyles, their passions, their personalities, and their problems first hand. In class Zoran talked about the Iceburg of culture; the culture Croatia presents for the rest of the world in tourist traps and gaudy museums and informative plaques is the tip of the cultural iceberg. 12 weeks is enough time see some of the nuances of their culture, stuff beneath the surface: things that are a lot more real, and a lot more interesting and less obvious. While I wish I could stay longer, I’m so grateful for having the opportunity in my life to see and understand another culture up close like this.

One of the recent episodes of my favorite radio show, This American Life, was about the figurative size and form of the world we inhabit; how our experiences shape it and how it shapes who we are. It’s kind of a weird thing to think about, but I think being in Croatia has dramatically changed my perception of the world and people; it’s changed the world I inhabit quite a bit. It’s bigger now. I see America as more of another country than a giant indomitable entity that the rest of the world revolves around–one of my old misconceptions. I don’t see cigarettes as evil or dumb anymore. I see work differently. I see war differently: more close up, and it seems more real and frightening than ever.

One of my preconceptions was actually strongly reaffirmed by my visit here: That people, underneath the cultural tip of the iceberg, are, by their nature, regardless of country and culture and upbringing, pretty much the same. From seeing the relationships and conflicts in people’s lives there, at least among the people who I’ve had the time to get to know long enough to see that side of their life, it’s clear that the dramas in peoples lives in Dubrovnik are very similar to those in America; they are just played out with a different accent. You see a political battle between nationalists and progressives, fear of unrequited love, problems with parents, inlaws, jealous boyfriends, and getting along with siblings–not better or worse than you see in the United States, but the same. I think of all the things I’ve taken away from the trip, I’m most grateful for that.

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Recommendations for future Students Studying Abroad in Croatia

May 19, 2008

SO MY TIME IS ALMOST UP HERE AND I HAVE HAD some amazing experiences; there are a few things I regret too. So with that, some advice for any students planning on studying abroad:

  • Learn some Croatian before you come. I recommend the Pimsleur tapes, which are expensive if you decide to buy them, but you can rest assured that any time and money you expend will be a worthwhile investment. A lot of people at stores don’t speak English here and although you wouldn’t be able to talk to locals in their language with just 20 hours of lessons, it gives you a great basis for conversation.
  • Buy a prepaid cell phone here. Don’t bring one from home. Don’t neglect to buy a cellphone unless you are really strapped. It only cost us a few hundred Kuna (maybe a little over 50 bucks, cheaper than a sim card and easier to maintain) and its harder to get to know people without one.
  • Don’t neglect your studies and don’t waste time on the I time on the Internet. You want to have more free time to do cool stuff than in Rochester, but getting that time from neglecting school work can kill your spirit here and take away from the experience overall.
  • Be outgoing. Your well-being is much more contingent on meeting new people here than the people you’ll want to get to know, who usually already have an established friend base. You need to take the initiative to be outgoing.
  • If you have the money, plan trips to the surrounding area and other places in Europe with people. Of the people here who’ve gone, none have had any regrets.

That is all. Have a picture:


Ruins of an abby between the dales and Boston Spa.

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Across the Pond (The Pond in this case being the Baltic Sea)

SO I AM IN THE UK WRITING ABOUT being here. I love Dubrovnik, but it’s nice to be around people who mostly speak your language, recycle, live in fear of traffic laws, and butter their bread. You still have to bag your own groceries.

In all honestly I see myself really enjoying my stay here in Boston Spa, which is a tiny, relatively rural suburb of Leeds. More than anything else it’s an escape from Dubrovnik for a little while. Here it’s quite, there’s lot of nature, no bright overpowering sun, and no tourists. Dubrovnik is beautiful, but it’s also overwhelming: too much coming at you from too many different directions. I really loved it for the first month or so, but you get used to the good things and the hand full of not so good things start to ware on you more as time goes on. If familiarity breeds contempt and absence makes the heart grow fonder, I’m sure I’ll have a renewed sense of appreciation for the place when I go back.

In other news: My little brother Chris started a blog. It was posted like 2 weeks ago and he already has more entries than I do. More than enough than would be required to do the Project for Axels XML class. Which I don’t… yet.

Have a picture:

York Minster Interior

That’s from the inside of York Minster, second largest Gothic cathedral in Northern Europe.

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Some More Pictures

May 8, 2008

HERE ARE SOME PICTURES FROM BEHIND ACMT, Mali Ston, and Ston respectively.

Chris and Stacy Over the Church

Chris lounges on wall overlooking a cliff. Stacy hides behind him.


Chris and Stacy in Back of ACMT 2

Stacy shows Chris her pictures.


Chris Filming to His Right

Default Chris: Handicam in hand and massive backpack to match.


Kyle Looking Over the Sea

Kyle enjoying the view.


Stacy With Her Camera Over the Sea

Stacy looking at her pictures in the shade.


Massive Dog Bothers Axel

Enourmous dog checks out diminutive dog.


Scary Dog Close Up

A bear with dog paws.


Kid Walks Off With Dog

Tiny kid claims dog.

HDR Path

HDR shot I took without my tripod (which is why it looks a little funny).


Salt Mine

Tracks outside of the salt mine in Ston.


Stone Lake

River outside the salt mine in stone


Ston Salt Road

Road leading to the salt mine.


Stone Night Shot

The religious festival at night in Ston.

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Some Random Photos

April 4, 2008

NOW THAT MY LAPTOP IS BACK ONLINE, my hard drive recovered, and my Internet connection stable, I’m going to start posting some of the pictures I’ve been taking. I’ve got a ton of them so it will take me a couple of days to catch up.

Group Shot

The photo people with me, Kyle and Axel.



Anna taking a picture of something.



Chris’ funny look.



Teo out of batteries trying to get his camera to work. Looks much more romantic though.



Stacy sitting on the top of fort on the hill.


Old Lady

An HDR shot of an old lady I found walking down this really interesting road by the salt mine in Ston. She gave me a kiss on the cheek afterwards :).

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Dubrovnik from the Other Side of the Body of Water Cleaving through Dubrovnik

March 15, 2008

AN HDR SHOT OF DUBROVNIK I took from the side of the lake [body of water cleaving through Dubrovnik] opposite our [old] apartment.

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Small Talk

March 12, 2008

I’VE NEVER BEEN ANY GOOD AT MAKING small talk. This is a problem when nothing especially important needs to be said and awkward silences are more awkward than awkward conversation.

So instead of having an awkward blog entry or an awkward silence (which there has been up to this point), I’m going to change my plans and make this entirely for photos; I’ll leave the small talk to the people who don’t suck at it (the links above, and there’s a more complete list on Chris’ blogroll).

If something needs to be said, I’ll say itbut until then I’m clamming up.

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Beach Pictures

March 10, 2008

HERE ARE A COUPLE OF THE PHOTOS I took at the beach.

The sunset from the road.


Anna right after taking a picture


A shot from the road overlooking the city


Stacy playing with a stray cat


Stacy holding the stray


Some unusual trees by the road


Brad looking into the sunset (as seen in his glasses)


A building we passed heading to the beach


Zoran explaining something to Leah


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February 22, 2008

I AM GOING TO WRITE STUFF worth reading on this webpage. At least I’m going to give it my damnedest. Sort of uncool—yes. And I know only a few people will really read it, but that’s not why I’m writing it. By the end of the trip not only will I have amassed this wonderful body of thought and insight to look back on, but I think having been forced to do things and reflect on the experience more than I would naturally will have actually made the whole trip more cohesive and worthwhile.

Also, I think anything not worth reading is—after following the syllogistic chain of reason to an early enough link—difficult to justify writing in the first place. Like writing a piece of software that does nothing: If the actual program doesn’t accomplish anything—if it’s not challenging to write, what could possibly be satisfying in bringing it to being? There’s this linear relationship between what a program can do, how hard it is to write, and how all-in-all satisfying that program is to produce. Even if you are writing a sophisticated program as a school project, and it will never be distributed, you learn a whole lot from it, get attached to it, and think back warmly about it years later. And so I’m applying that logic here, to this webpage.

My guidelines are as follows:

  1. I’ll try to post two meaty entries a week (around Thursday and Sunday night).
  2. Each entry will have some sort of overarching point or theme that’s sort of abstract (i.e. it’s not just how my day went or technical details), and have a real conclusion (stream of consciousness isn’t cool for meaty entries) .
  3. I’ll try to post one picture that doesn’t suck for every day I’m abroad (grand total by the end; I might post two and skip a day, for example).
  4. I will be a little overwrought. Why? Because I like being a little god damned overwrought.
  5. I will use this webpage as a reason to see and do as much interesting stuff as I can while in Europe.

* * *

So I’m traveling with a group of 7 CS majors including me, and a small group of photo students. I haven’t met any of the photo students yet, but the CS group so far is looking pretty awesome (though the jury is still out on Kyle, who, as it turns out, appreciates football). We’ve got a trio of really sort of outgoing old friends; hopefully having them around will help keep us otherwise deeply introverted CS majors above ground. Damn. Next quarter can’t come soon enough.

* * *

So, on Wednesday night (3/5/08) I’ll be heading out from JFK and touching down in Frankfurt the next morning. I have 4 hours in Germany and then it’s off to Dubrovnik, where I’ll come in at about 4 pm.

Odds are if you are reading this I’ll see you there.

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