In the style of Woody Allen (a refernce which I do not understand, but am includeing for you in case you do get it), the first speaker said that the preperation to leave could be the best part, because reality rarely lives up to expectation.
Along with that advice, we should "use this experience as a launching pad."
We had a general overivew of the Balkans (well part of them, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Albania, and Macedonia at least). This was to give us a worst case senario of what could happen and to give us some of the history of the area.
The history part was interesting for the rest of the Balkans, but he didn't really mention anything that I didn't arealdy know about Macedonia. BUT, he did for some of the people who had never thought of going to Macedonia until the Fulbright offer.
The worst case scenario in Macedonia/this area of the Balkans is if the Albanians rise up together to form a "Greater Albania."
Which is not plausable , by the way.
After a delicious lunch, we went to our country sessions.
These were run by a full time staff member of either IIE (student) or CIES (scholar) but mostly the returning students/scholar talked.
We answered all of our questions in the first two sessions and didn't really need a third session, but had one any way.
We learned some important cultural things:
-If you are invited out for "drinks" in Macedonia, do not order food. This is seen as rude to eat when someone else is not eating. On the flip side, if you are invited for "food" order something becasue if you are not eating when someone else is, it is also rude.
-You can buy good summer clothes there, so pack mostly for winter. And pack dark clothing.
-most people have 2 phones, because they do not want to have to call people on their non Tmobile/ VIP pohone becasue that costs more. So we might need to get two phones. (I am not sure about this one yet, but we will see)
-You can call a taxi company and order a taxi with food, and they will charge you for the delivery, and the food, but no real upcharge. (good thing if you happen to get sick apparently)
-Arrive 10-15 minutes late. If you are on time, they will not be expecting you. And will not be ready for whatever you are early for.
Also, we found out that we will get some money for language training, through reimbusrment, to start or continue language training in our host countries.
That is most of the info. Stay tuned for an interesting inclusion in our packet as well as an introduction to my fellow Fulbrighters (will be later when I recieve the picture from Jen.
See you around the globe!