No passport control officer has welcomed me to a country as warmly as an officer at the Pristina International airport in April. His wide smile, the warm April breeze and Era Istrefi's Bonbon playing loud in the taxi made me immediately feel like I would enjoy my stay in Kosovo.
Working at the Embassy of Finland in Pristina has given great opportunities to inspect and explore the Kosovo society from different point of views. My work at the Embassy has brought me closer to the Kosovo politics – in good and bad. It has taught me a lot about development cooperation as well as about transnational actors' work in Kosovo. Among others, I have learned about Stabilization and Association Agreement implementation, public sector's cooperation (or lack of it) with civil society and even about plastic and rubber industry as a promising industry sector in Kosovo.
Most interesting has, however, been getting to know the life of Kosovars thanks to both theory and practice. Little did I know about the fact that most working mothers are paid only six months maternity leave, or that selling one euro café macchiatos can be profitable or that no one except the public institutions and the international actors actually use the Kosovo flag. During my stay, I have been happy to meet young entrepreneurs from Mitrovica, women farmers from Prizren, high school students from Gjakova and so international and perfect English speaking young people in Pristina, you would not believe many of them have never been in an airplane. I will be missing Kosovo's friendly people and vibrant atmosphere!
Even though the north is calling for now, I am definitely coming back to Kosovo. Next time I hope to meet Kosovars feeling less isolated as a result of the visas to the Schengen area, feel people believing more in their country and having better employment possibilities and to feel like it is totally okay to like Fanta.
Jenniina Kotajoki, Junior Advisor