Friday, June 15, 2018

6.30am Too Early

By Mercedes Mercedes-Mercedes

The alarm of my phone rings. It’s too early but I still manage to get up. Next goal, be on time for the uber pick up at 7, time is literally money as every minute the Uber driver has to wait costs extra. We all make it to the uber on time and get in. 
7.30 am Meet up
We made it on time to the meet up with the rest of the class. Some people are late due to the train getting stuck and in the meantime some people get breakfast. At 8 am we walk towards check-in and everything is going smooth. Around 9.50 we board the plan. As we board the train I spot an abandoned baby doll and I just had to take it, even though Shambhavi and Rayan did not seem happy about it. 
12.00 pm Arrival in fancy Vienna
The landing went smooth and we are heading for the city. However, we are a bit to early for our meeting with Wolfgang Petritsch (aka the Dub) and so we all take a small break in the Stadtpark close by his office. Upon arriving at his office we are told that he is waiting for us at Hotel Prückel but they actually meant Café Prückel. On the way there Rayan named the baby Wolfgang Wolfgang Wolfgang Opel or also know as Triple Dub.  
14.05 Meeting Wolfgang (aka the Dub) Petritsch
Wolfgang Petritsch had a whole section in a traditional relatively fancy café reserved for us, called Café Prückel. Then he elaborated on the background to the Kosovo war. After that he opened the floor for questions and we were able to ask only 3-4 questions, due to him answering questions very extensively. He elaborated on his position during the Kosovar war, as he played a major role in the creation of the Rambouillet and Paris Accords. The Dub emphasised that it is important to do more to prevent war from breaking out, than trying to “fix it” once the violence has broken out. 
15.40 I have friends
After the meeting with Petritsch, we were allowed to walk around Vienna. I meet up with a friend of mine and we went to get some food. At some point my mom stopped by and we had a chat. Later I sat in a Café with other friends of mine. 
19.30 Gate Wait
We are all at the gate, scattered, many on their laptops, trying to finish the semester that already ended over a week ago. I am sitting here, writing my blog. At 20.30 we all meet at our gate going to Pristina. 
21.05 The Rejection
I am sitting close to the boarding entrance with Shambhavi and we are cracking jokes. At 21.00 we start to board the plane. Shambhavi and I walk to the boarding with happy faces. First, we panic a bit because the man seemed a bit confused about Shambhavi's residents card, but all is fine and she can walk through. Then I showed him my ID card and was ready to walk past him but instead he looked at me and asked me for my passport. I tell him I don’t have one and he tells me that I won’t be able to go to Kosovo without one. I start shaking and Anne tries to convince him, but he keeps on saying that there is nothing that can be done and I would have to rebook my flight and get an emergency passport. I think usually I would have cried but at that point I was too exhausted to do that. Anne hesitantly had to let me go and boarded the plane. Now the best advise I got was to come in the morning when the office for emergency passports opens and book another flight. So, I went home and went to bed. 
9 am The Rush
I arrive at the airport at 9am thinking I would take the plane at 2pm but then I got to the Passport office and the process was really fast. I had my emergency passport at 9.25am, so I decide to sprint to the Austrian Airlines Ticket desk. Once it was my turn, I asked at 9.41 if it was still possible to catch the plane at 10.10am. She said yes and quickly issued my ticket. Its 9.50am now and I sprint to the gate and make it, exhausted and sweaty. 
10.50 am The plane, the soldier and the sweaty Merci
In the plane I sat next to a German NATO soldier, Chris, and the AUC student came out in me and I questioned him the whole plane ride. Chris has been stationed in Prizren for 4 months now and he is going to be stationed there for another 2 months. He also told me that the camp in Prizren will be closed by the end of the year and only 60 NATO soldiers will be stationed there after that. The camp will be reused as a training centre for youth. For example, they already have a huge new kitchen there, so adolescents can be trained to become cooks but there will be other possibilities like learning to become a mechanic or electrician. He also mentioned that the people really enjoy having the NATO soldiers there and that they are really nice. But that’s only true for the south, in the north people are not so happy to see the soldiers. Also, that the military camp is a great source of income for the people in the area as the locals can sell various things or are hired to prepare meals and fix broken things. Besides that, we also talked about politics in general and other interesting subjects. Chris was really nice and I think I did not only learn something from him but I also opened his mind to different perspectives. 
12.00 KOSOVO
I landed 25minutes too late. Luckily my suitcase arrived with me and Erik picked me up from the airport and we drove straight to join the rest of the group to the meeting of the Kosovo's Women's Network. Eva was really interesting but I was power drained and fell asleep.

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