Favorite quote/life motto I am against mottos or In vino veritas.
My name is Caleb Waugh. I was born in 1984. I am from Los Angeles, California (United States of America). I have a Bachelor’s in Political Science and a Master’s Degree in Eastern European Studies. I work as the Head of the NGO Aktiv Policy Office in North Mitrovica, Kosovo.
I lived in California for the first 18 years of my life. Aside from being a high school student, I can’t say that I did anything specific. During summer holidays while studying at university I would often work part-time (i.e. in an office) to make some extra money, but besides that
I never really worked or developed a career there. When I was in high school and university I was quite politically active.
I spent a year studying at the University of California (at Santa Cruz) and during that first year I decided that I wanted to transfer to another school. At one point, it was suggested that I look at the possibility of finishing my studies in the United Kingdom, which I did. I ended up at the University of Edinburgh and lived there for the next four years. There were a number of reasons behind this decision, first and foremost was a desire to experience life outside of the United
States. On top of this, it was actually more financially viable to study in the U.K than in the U.S (I believe that this has since changed and that university fees for international students in Britain have risen substantially.)
After finishing my Bachelor’s, I went on to Italy (Bologna) for master’s studies and spent a year in Bosnia doing research for my thesis. Although I knew a lot about the former Yugoslavia in general, my knowledge about Kosovo and the current situation here was a bit patchy. This can be partly attributed to the fact that Kosovo is not exactly widely discussed in the media (at least not after the 1990’s and early 2000’s) and of course to the fact that I had never previously intended to move there. I came for the first time in (I believe) 2011 for a short work trip and then returned in 2013 thinking I’d only stay for 6-8 months but apparently never left.
I think that moving to another country always involves a bit of an initial shock and it’s natural that you feel a bit out of place and experience a certain degree of disorientation. That having been said, what was once alien gradually becomes more familiar and what was once perplexing somehow becomes more logical. Language can of course be a challenge, but is a major factor in your ability to function, make friends and work in another country. If you’re a foreigner in a place like Kosovo it can seem like you have binary choice have a choice between living there as an ‘international’ in the sense that you are very much part of certain social circles that really try to mimic/replicate life in the west and, trying to integrate yourself more into local communities. I actually don’t think that’s the case, but it can still be difficult to situate/find your footing in Kosovo as a foreigner – just like anywhere else in the world.
I have really liked living and working in North Mitrovica. I value mostly for the kind of friendships and the closeness of the community, but of course it has also been fascinating from a professional perspective. I suppose it’s difficult to measure experience, but I can say that it is a very dynamic place to live and work (as strange as that might sound to people.).Of course sometimes I think about what it would have been like if I had stayed and pursued a more traditional career path in the U.S, but I don’t regret it. I also plan to return in the relatively near future.