I have found Duke to be a place where almost everyone has a plan. While plans are important, they can also force us to overlook other opportunities that pop up along our paths. My time in Belgrade, a city that is always alive with new excitements, has reminded me to let go of my closely held intentions for opportunities I may never have been able to conceive of before.
The sun will set each evening but there are only so many opportunities you get in life to stumble across Macedonian folk dancing in the middle of a centuries old fortress.
In the face of my dwindling number of days remaining in Belgrade, I set out with some friends to cross another item off our list of things to do — watch a sunset over the Danube River from Kalemegdan Fortress. As with every good plan, we set a specific meeting place and time. I arrived at the fortress early, in a rare break from my usual characteristic of tardiness. Looking for a familiar face, I stood at the entrance to the fortress peering at all of people streaming by. The noise of music and a crowd beginning to form in its general direction drew my attention. I instinctively headed straight towards the scene to find a group from Macedonia performing a folk dance in traditional clothing.
Only a few moments after I walked up, the group began to move in a parade-like fashion, and my peaked curiosity forced me to follow them. After about ten minutes of following at a distance just close enough to receive some awkward side glances from the performance group, we arrived at an arena where groups from all the world were waiting to take the stage. I soon discovered I was at the Belgrade Awards, a folk dance and music competition. I took a place in the arena and messaged all my friends to come join me. For the next couple of hours, we watched, listened to, and clapped along with performers from countries like Argentina, India, Poland, and Lithuania. All of us smiled at each other as we reveled in the discovery of a unique experience that was one of my favorite memories from my time in Belgrade.