Week 2: June 5-11

Thursday, June 5

By Thursday morning my commute was becoming more routine. As usual we started the day with a coffee and a chat. Now that I had computer access at work I was able to import the pictures off of my camera for the first blog post. For lunch we went to a restaurant that had pizza, burgers, and doner sandwiches. We called in to order the food and when we walked over it was sitting at a table waiting for us. I wish we had this kind of service in America! I tried the salama pizza. It had mushrooms and slices of what looked like ham, but was translated to salami. The pizza was on a thin crust with more cheese and less sauce than American pizza. Since I did not have an assignment yet, I spent the afternoon working on the first blog post.

Jalaj and I had been asked to meet with a few of the IAESTE members late Thursday afternoon. Haris brought us to the university campus for a presentation about the program. We arrived early and were able to meet some of the members and get to know them before the event. Unfortunately the entire presentation was in Bosnian so Jalaj and I did not understand most of it. Refreshments were provided in the form of lemon soda and Turkish Kit-Kat bars. At one point they asked us if we had anything to say because we were the only interns that had been able to attend. I was caught off guard, I had no idea I was supposed to participate in the presentation. I awkwardly declined and the event continued. Once the presentation was over, we took a group photo and they invited us to get coffee.

IAESTE Sarajevo LC members

We went to Caffe Tito, named after the “benevolent dictator” of Yugoslavia, Josip Broz Tito. It was in the back of the Historijski Muzej Bosne i Hercegovine (Historical Museum of BiH). The courtyard was littered with WWII memorabilia, including weaponry. Young children ran around climbing on the tanks and playing soccer on the gravel field in the corner while their parents sipped coffee at the tables.

Caffe Tito is WWII themed with camouflage seat cushions and authentic weapons.
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We sat and talked until after 9pm. The IAESTE students taught me about how the history of the city is reflected in the architecture. They also explained the stereotypes associated with the different areas in the Balkans so that I could get the jokes. Between the museum and our apartment is a street called Vilsonovo šetalište. After 5pm every day, this street closes to vehicular traffic and people can bike, skate, and walk along it.

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Vilsonovo šetalište
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On our walk home, I noticed for the first time quadricycle rentals. I have never been to that part of the street. I hope to have the time to go back and bike along it following the Miljacka River into the Novi Grad.

Friday, June 6

On Friday, the “chief” Zoran, returned from his company trip abroad. He joined us for coffee in the morning, and everyone was happy that he was back. He gave me a book to read from Endress+Hauser called Flow Handbook. It explained and compared all of the different flow measurement technologies available. For lunch we went to Panera again and this time I tried the burek which is long sausages baked into pastries.

Burek can be filled with any meat, cheese, or spinach. image source

After lunch, Zoran sent me the AutoCAD file of the plot plan for the terminals. A plot plan is basically a map showing everything in the unit.

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Here is a screenshot of the plot plan in AutoCAD. It is very detailed.

Amer then showed me how to draw in 2D AutoCAD. He explained that he was currently working on the P&ID (Piping and Instrumentation Diagram) for a different project. In order to make a P&ID from a plot plan, he would have to remove some of the detail depending on what the particular P&ID was for. For example, to make the P&ID for the pump station, he would first zoom into that portion of the plot plan. Then he would delete support structures and piping that was not related. The pipes that ran to and from the pump station would then be linked to a separate P&ID showing the detail for a different part of the terminals. I spent the rest of the afternoon working in AutoCAD practicing drawing by copying simple diagrams I found on the internet. I was given permission to leave early and headed home around 3:45pm.

After taking a quick powernap I went to the Alta shopping center to use the free WiFi. After working for an hour or so, I got a call from Jalaj asking if I wanted to go to the Stari Grad and try the hookah. We met up 15 minutes later and headed towards the Old Town. We decided to take the tram instead of walking. When it pulled up to the stop it was packed full. Somehow we managed to squeeze on but luckily most of the passengers exited at the next stop. We got off and wandered around the small cobblestone streets looking for a suitable hookah location. We chose a small cafe nestled in between the School of Economics and Business and the carnival rides. I ordered a kafa and Jalaj asked about their shisha flavors. They only had lemon and Red Bull, so we chose the lemon flavor. We sat and talked until it got dark, then we headed back to our apartment.

Saturday, June 7

Amer offered to show me around the town on Saturday so Jalaj and I met him outside of the BBI Centar at 11am. He took us to a lovely little cafe on top of one of the hills that had a wonderful view of the city.

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Jalaj took a panoramic picture of the city from the cafe.

We all ordered coffee and sat enjoying the quiet morning. There were small rosebushes next the the cafe and the birds were chirping. It was a short drive from the city to the small mahala (independent neighborhood) but the atmosphere was completely different. Short houses lined the steep, narrow streets. Some of the hairpin turns needed mirrors so the cars could see any oncoming traffic. Sitting next to us were two French women who were in town for the Sarajevo Peace Event. After we had all finished our drinks we headed back into the city.

We parked in the Stari Grad and walked along the Ferhadija while Amer pointed out special features and important landmarks. We happened to pass one of the mosques as the call to prayer was sounding. When I looked into the courtyard, I was amused to see a large group of tourists standing in the corner with their safari style clothing and big backpacks watching the people praying. To the locals this is a common event occurring multiple times a day.

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This street, behind one of the mosques, is lined with ćevabdžinicas (restaurants that serve ćevapčići).
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We had ćevapčići for lunch; it is most authentic in the Stari Grad. It was hot, fresh off the grill, but delicious. You can order the čevapčiči in two sizes, with five pieces of meat, or ten. We all ordered the smaller size but it was filling, served in a large pita with chopped onions. On our way back we stopped at the Guinness pub for a quick drink, kafa for me, soda water for Amer, and orange juice for Jalaj. Amer dropped us off at our apartment around 2:30pm.

I headed back over to Alta to use their free WiFi for the Skype dates that I had scheduled for that day. The time change from Sarajevo to California is 9 hours and to Pittsburgh is 6 hours so it takes a lot of communication to schedule a call. While in the shopping center I got a text message from one of the IAESTE members inviting me to the BiH-Iceland handball game that evening. After grabbing a disappointing burger from the food court, Jalaj and I met Haris (another Haris, not the same one that picked us up from the airport) and Stefan, an intern from Germany. Neither Jalaj nor I had ever witnessed a handball game and we had no idea what to expect.

This is a picture from the Sarajevo Junior Handball World Championship in 2013. It depicts the athleticism required for the sport. Handball is like a mix between soccer and basketball. It has the freedom of movement, physicality, and goal/goalie of soccer but the attack organization and high scores of basketball. And, obviously, you use your hands. image source

Across from where we sat were the BH Fanaticos. They were the most enthusiastic spectators and had brought large signs and drums. They sang for almost the entire game and many were shirtless. After the teams had finished their warm-ups, the Iceland players were introduced without much reaction from the crowd. When it was time to present the BiH players all of the fans knew their last names. The announcer would say the number and the first name and the crowd would finish for him. Even the lesser known players would have their names shouted by the Fanaticos. This was followed by the national anthem for each team. During the Icelandic song, a light murmur spread through the audience as they talked amongst themselves, ignoring the ceremony. Like before, as soon as the attention turned back to the BiH players, the crowd sang as loudly as they could. Finally, around 8:15, it was time for the game.

The game started with a moment of silence. Handball games have a history of dedicating this time to different tragedies that have affected the participating nations. I was unsure of the reason for this one because it was announced in Bosnian but I suppose it could have been for the Balkan flooding. Iceland had the ball first and the audience booed and whistled at them. This continued for the entirety of the game, with cheering when BiH had the ball and booing when Iceland had the ball.

“Bosna! Bosna! Bosna!”

There was a very interesting strategy that both teams employed. They would put a penny that was the same color as the goalies jersey on one of their benched players. Then when they were on offense they would sub this player for the goalie and have an extra attacker. This is a gamble though and backfired once for Iceland when they could not get the goalie back to the goal in time to stop a long shot from BiH.

At halftime, Iceland was leading 17-14. In the second half, the audience was alive with excitement, they cheered even harder than before to help bolster their team. The cheering worked, and BiH pulled ahead to win 33-32. (It must be disheartening as a goalie to get scored on more than 30 times.) As soon as the game had finished the crowd chanted “Prce, Prce, Prce” while the players did a victory lap. Eventually, the blue and yellow crowd spilled onto the street and many went down to the Stari Grad to celebrate in the pubs. Tired from my long day, I went home.

Sunday, June 8

The IAESTE members had planned a hike for us on Sunday. We all met in front of the BBI Centar. After grabbing some snacks from the grocery store under the shopping center we were ready to go. Half of us took the bus while the other half drove in a car. The bus was small, with only 15 seats. Most of the passengers carried grocery bags. We rode past the Olympic Stadium and left the city. We climbed steep hills on narrow roads, often requiring traffic to pull off to the side to let us through. The bus dropped us off at the last stop, turned around and left.

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Last bus stop, marked only by a row of trash cans. Lejla is looking for a place to park.

Jalaj, Aida, Stefan, and I waited on a bench outside of a small market for the group in the car to arrive. The owner of the shop sat near us on a small stool, smoking. Every now and then a costumer would stop by and she would get up and tend to them. Eventually, Lejla pulled up in her small, silver hatchback. After a quick conversation, she drove her passengers to the top of the hill while we started walking. Soon, she came back and picked us up.

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We were headed up to the Skakavac (Grasshopper) Waterfall. This sign says that it is 4km away, but does not mention that it is all uphill!

Lejla found a part of the road wide enough to park her car and we all got out. The view, even from here, was amazing, we could see all the way back to Sarajevo.
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View from where we parked the car.

We walked up a gravel road and every so often a car would squeeze past us and leave us in a cloud of dust and exhaust.

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The gravel road was steep and there was no escape from the blazing sun.

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Some parts of the road were paved.

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As we climbed higher we could see more and more of the valley that Sarajevo sits in.

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We eventually came to a flat part. Off to the side was a small pen full of freshly sheared sheep next to a large pile of dirty wool!

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We stopped at a small restaurant next to the sheep where we sat in what little shade we could find. Lejla, Jalaj, and I ordered Pepsis while we waited with Stefan for the rest of the group to reach this little oasis.

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Skakavac Waterfall 3km. I could not believe that the uphill trek in the hot, dusty sun had only been 1km!

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We decided to take the wooded path so that we could walk in the shade. Here is one last picture of the view. The restaurant was surprisingly busy in this remote location. Walking here is Haris with Meghna and Sushmitha, two interns from India.

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We continued to ascend the mountain and reached the stone that poked out of the tops of the trees. We passed many other hikers on our way, most had stopped to smoke cigarettes. At one point, we passed a small cave with a group of hikers sitting in the cool shade. Two of the young men were playing with a small tan snake, about a foot long, while the young women drank water and rested.

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We were walking on one peak, surrounded by many others.

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Although the waterfall was thin, it sprayed water far into the air, covering all of the viewers in a cool mist. Here I am, standing near the base, please excuse my poor formatting as I was unable to rotate this picture.

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A small bridge crossed the stream below the waterfall and the view was breathtaking.

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While we waited for the other half of the group to arrive at the waterfall, I was approached by the largest, shiniest beetle I had ever seen. It was more than an inch long.

We followed the path that would lead us to the top of the vodopad. We took full advantage of the many benches along the way because it was very steep and there were many stairs.

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Once we had reached the top we had a wonderful view of the neighboring mountains.

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The water falls 98m!

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On the left is the vodopad Skakavac. It looks so small when seen from above.

Near the viewpoint they had signs with the native animals. One sign showed all of the birds in the area and the second sign showed the bears, wolves, foxes, and boars!

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After stopping for a relaxing snack break at some picnic tables we headed back down the mountain on a different path.

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On our way back we passed the restaurant and the sheep pen was empty. The wool was sitting in large trash bags waiting to be picked up for processing. As we were walking down we found the sheep! They are allowed to roam free and when they are needed, the sheepdog brings them back to the farm.
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As the sun was beginning to set we had another great view of the city.

I didn’t get back home until after 8:30 pm. I was exhausted from the long day of walking and, after a quick dinner, I went to bed.

Monday, June 9

I arrived at work on Monday well rested and excited to learn more about designing industrial facilities. I spent all of Monday morning working on this blog post because I still had not received an assignment. For lunch we ordered food from the pizza restaurant. This time I tried the doner. It is a pita sandwich filled with meat, sour cream, lettuce, and tomatoes. It was delicious!

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The doner sandwich was the perfect size for lunch.

In the afternoon Amer sent me an AutoCAD file to work on. After modeling in 3D they would send the 2D converted files to our department. My task was to clean up a small corner of the 2D drawing, deleting unnecessary lines generated by the 3D-2D conversion. Once I had finished that, Zoran joined us in our office and we looked over the plot plan for a new anti-freeze unit in an existing refinery. He pointed out various issues the 3D model had overlooked and we brainstormed about how to resolve these issues. For example, they had placed two staircases too close together, there was not enough room for a person to walk between them, and this was a safety hazard. While we were working, time flew by and 4 o'clock snuck up on us.

On my way home from work, I stopped at the grocery store to buy food for the rest of the week. Among other things I bought a bottle of Somersby blackberry cider.

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It was very delicious and I recommend this drink to anyone that can find it in a store.

That evening I drank my chilled cider while sitting in my window admiring the sunset. There was a man in our apartment driveway methodically washing a BMW. A woman was with him and after he told her I was American she asked me if I could speak German. Not being able to, we dropped the conversation and I went back to watching the cars drive by.

Tuesday, June 10

We continued to work on the plot plan for the antifreeze unit on Tuesday. We took our problems and solutions from the previous day up to the 3D modeling department. They quickly integrated our suggestions into their models and I was impressed with their speed. In the morning, Amer started to delegate small tasks to me. He would show me how to do something and then tell me which parts to include in my work. As the day progressed, Amer and I were getting more direction from Zoran. While we were updating and tweaking the documents I was able to learn almost all of the numbers in Bosnian. For lunch we ordered from the same place and I got the doner again. In the afternoon, while taking a break from our work, I was given a tour of the rest of the building. There are only three floors. Many of the lights were off to keep the building cool in the warm summer weather. Some offices even had their AC running. I left work that day feeling very productive.

After checking my email at the shopping center, I headed down to the Stari Grad. I leisurely walked along the river following the tram route. It was a warm summer night and there were many pedestrians and bicyclists. It was too warm to cook dinner, so I stopped at a ćevabdžinica called Mrkva for some delicious ćevapčići. I was proud of myself for competently ordering in a foreign language. On my way back towards my apartment I bought a scoop of chocolate gelato from one of the numerous stands that are along the Ferhadija. Even on a weeknight, the avenue was full of people enjoying the city. I passed a young gypsy boy sitting against a building with a small accordion and a pet duckling tied to the end of a string. He was counting the change that he had received for his music. There is a small skate park on my way home and I dropped in to see what the young people in Sarajevo do on a Tuesday evening. There were two groups of teenagers. One group was adding to the graffiti on a park bench while the other group was laying on the large sculpture looking at the stars. A young boy was learning how to ride his scooter down the ramps with the help of his mother. Dog walkers wandered in and out.

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This skate park is on the site of the old Hastahana, which was the first hospital in Sarajevo. It was opened in 1866 and had a clinic, pharmacy and hospital rooms.

When I arrived back at the apartment I was expecting my second roommate to be in Sarajevo. Seeing no evidence of him, I went to bed.

Wednesday, June 11

We finished the final revision of the antifreeze unit on Wednesday morning. After copying and pasting our work into the refinery plot plan, we tweaked formatting until the document was readable and informative. The antifreeze unit is small in comparison to the rest of the refinery so we had to remove much of the detail. When the unit is constructed they will have individual diagrams with all dimensions and labels. Wednesday evening was rather uneventful.

Here is a picture of the konvertibilna marka. Below 10KM there are only coins.
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This complicates transactions because it requires math and the locals speak the numbers very quickly. Even at large grocery stores they prefer that you present them with 24km for a 14km item instead of 20km. This way they can give you change much easier.

In summary

As I become more accustomed to life in Sarajevo, I am learning much more about the people. In general, the inhabitants of the city have a very strong spirit. Despite a history of occupation, they are not submissive. In fact, they break laws every chance they get. They smoke, walk, drive, and park wherever and whenever they want. This rebellious behavior is not limited to the younger generation. Only in Sarajevo have I seen a senior citizen jaywalk with such confidence. The people are much more aware and communicate much better, whether it is verbal or with their car horns. I have yet to witness any car accidents even though the drivers zoom past each other with only inches to spare. I would have expected this self-regulation to result in chaos but it is just the opposite. The sidewalk-parking and blatant jaywalking relies on common sense and a “why not” attitude. In America, people do what they are told to do and use products for what they are made for. In a country that has been around much longer, more creativity is needed to integrate new technology into an old city.

The people do what works, and what has always worked. An example of how this has streamlined logistics is the small piles of hay. When larger areas are mowed, the cuttings are collected and laid out to dry. Once is it ready, it is sold as food for horses and cows. Not only does this provide the livestock with a nutritious, varied diet, but it also eliminates the need for disposal. A few (I’m assuming) public dumpsters are all that are needed for many apartment buildings. The people of Bosnia do not recycle, but there is no need to when they reuse what they can. Sustainability is not a new idea, it is common sense.


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