After 9am it’s already hot. About an hour earlier we experienced a shower of tropical rain that stopped as suddenly as it started. The ground is already dry and it’s a still day. I’m sweating in my shirt and suit jacket but the wind from riding in the back of a motorbike taxi helps a bit. I learn that my driver’s name is Polo and he’s only been to elementary school. “There’s my home, I was born nearby and I’ve always lived in Kigali”, he says, pointing down into a valley some ten meters below us. Despite his limited education he speaks perfect English and we have a discussion about development studies and sociology. Everybody in Kigali speaks English. I grasp tightly to a handle behind me while Polo keeps pointing at the scenery and driving faster and faster. “I’m starting to understand why they call Rwanda the land of a thousand hills”, I yell over the sound of traffick. “Yeah, wait ’till you see the provinces”, laughs Polo. I have no idea what to expect from the provinces.

We arrive at the World Bank Group’s office. A sign at the reception says that bringing guns in the office is not allowed. Armed soldiers patrol outside. Judging by the gear they’re wearing they must be sweating more than me. WBG’s local chief of communications welcomes us and leads us to a conference room. We talk about development aid, Millennium Development Goals, and Rwanda’s national Vision 2020 program that set a goal for Rwanda to become a middle income country by the year 2020. We learn that most of the development aid that is channeled to Rwanda through the WB goes to agricultural development – after all, most of the people in Rwanda live off agriculture. After the meeting we head for a lunch in a restaurant hidden at the end f a bazaar. We have a Rwandan ex-lundastudent with us who tells us about the culture of accountability in Rwanda. People elected into political positions have to once a year attend a public meeting and publicly explain why they have or have not kept their election promises. We also learn that the current President of Rwanda is an active Twitter user, has his own hashtag and holds “ask me anything” type of events online.

At World Bank Group’s office in Kigali. Mr. Rogers Kayihura explains what the Bank does in Rwanda.
Suited up and welcomed warmly to the Bank!

After lunch we head to the Swedish embassy in Kigali, and barely manage to escape another shower of rain. We met the chargé d’affaires Maria Håkansson and the head of development cooperation, Joakim Molander. We had a long discussion about the embassys responsibilities and operations in Rwanda and the region, and the staff added new, European perspectives to the discussions we had had earlier today. Needless to say, a lot of group pictures were taken both at the World Bank office and the embassy. Once again, a big thank you to Rogers Kayihura, Maria Håkansson and Joakim Molander for making the visits possible and teaching us so much!

Difficult questions and a great discussion at the Embassy of Sweden. Thank you for having us!
Embassy of Sweden in Kigali. A lot of group pictures were taken.

After the visit to the embassy it was time to go for an adventure. We took motos to the city district of Remera where the rooftops were guarded by majestics hawks and beer and cheese was served by friendly and helpful staff at a restaurant. We also found a driving school cooperative and were invited to drive. Since most of us already have a license we politely declined. Maybe next time! We took a bus and motos back to the hostel and had dinner at the exactly right time. I’m finishing this blog post in darkness. Power was cut off by a thunderstorm. The sound of a heavy rain against the roof is pleasing to the ear. We have a torch, cards and a hammock.

A driving school cooperative style. Men and women were stading in lines waiting for their turns to show their skills behind the wheel.

Taking the line 320 back to the hostel. We decided to ride the whole line instead of heading back to our bunks just yet. I’m glad we decided so.

/ Otso

Day 2 – picking fruit and visiting a local mosque

Our second day here in Kigali has been calm and spontaneos. We started of by searching for wi-fi, since our hostels was down at the moment. We’ve realised that dealing without internet is more difficult than we first would have believed, so after accidentally ending up in a super fancy gym (fancier than anything we’ve seen in Lund). “Very LA” according to Anna-Clara. Soon we found our way down to a very nice european styled café, had some wonderful banana bread and went on to satisfy our internet needs. We found addresses and phone numbers, checked our facebook and sent an e-mail or two.

Not what you expect next to a dirt road in Kigali

Enough about internet, we went out on the street to find motos that would take us to the city center. We wanted to go to Rwanda Development Board, a REALLY big building next to the parliament, which we figured people would now about. However, after crossing through the relatively well-organized traffic we still weren’t there. Thankfully people on the street stepped in with advices and we finally got there. At the office, we got plenty of tips on transportation and accomodation for the rest of the trip, and also a tip on a nice market, not to far a way.

We went to the market where we found friendly people and beautiful crafts, with more than enough souvenirs for the rest of the trip. Some of us finished of earlier than the rest, so we went for a walk up the road. Suddenly we found what seemed to be a plant nursery, with plenty of flowers and trees planted in small bags and improvised pots. With my old high school french (where I apparently didn’t learnt exotic flowers names) we managed to get a small tour of a mans plants, which we all enjoyed a lot. We then went back, met up with the others and started walking towards the restaurant. Just by the market we found an avocado tree, with avocado the size of a big mango or a small hand ball (depending on who you ask). Suddenly a man had climbed up in the tree to pick some for us, and since there’s almost nothing I love more than climbing trees, I jumped up after him. He picked 5, I picked one, but to be fair he had a special stick to help him. So now we have avocado for at least the next couple of days and I got a climbing session that made my day.

Me picking fruit

A size comparison 

After having a nice lebanese lunch we continued with the middle eastern theme by visiting the muslim quarters. We saw a mosque, bought plenty of passion fruit and had an amazing view of the Kigali hills in the sunset. The motos brought us back home as the sky turned darker, and when we returned to the hostel we enjoyed fifteen minutes of wifi before it broke down again. With no wifi we decided to go for some traditional Rwandan dinner at a restaurant nearby. There was plenty of food, even though we didn’t know exactly what we were eating it tasted wonderful. However, don’t try the red sauce. It’s hot. VERY hot. Like one drop will burn your tongue for minutes. The only solution was to fill the mouth with ugali, their local porridge, cooked into some kind of thick dough. Fills your stomach, that’s for sure.

Visiting the mosque

And eating dinner

Now we’re back home and I’m going to sleep.

/ Gustav

Day 1 – The Kigali Memorial Centre and exploring the city with motorcycle taxis

Hi dear readers

This morning we woke up to the beautiful sunny hills of Kigali. Over a tasty breakfast of scrambeled eggs the travel committee met again for the first time since we left Sweden. Our hostel is a cute house with a traditional African touch and a large garden with a swimming pool, volleyball court, and even a bowling alley.

The hostels balcony


And its bowling alley

We started our trip in a quite heavy way by visiting the Kigali Memorial Centre, a museum about the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The museum contained pictures and stories from the genocide, and in the garden there were graves of some 200 000 victims from the massacres. It was a heavy but interesting tour and the whole group found it very giving.


The memorial center

After lunch we transported ourselves to our next destination with the local way of getting around – the motorcycle taxis. We have a feeling there will be more of this kind of tansports during our stay in this country. It’s really an amazing, but maybe not the safest, way of moving around in this hilly city.


A high speed photo

The urgent need of an ATM lead us down town. After quite some time we finally found a bank before we spent some time walking around the local market, buying fresh fruit. Once again we catched a group of motorcycle taxis and took a ride up a hill to get a nice view of Kigali from a distance. In the pictures below you can see where we ended up.

One of many amazing views

We ended our day with a dinner at a nice Ethiopian restaurant (since the Rwandan one was closed on Sundays) and went back home to our hostel to enjoy some local beer over some games.

All the best!

/ Hanna & Martina

Day 6 March 31st (UKAM, GPOT & lecture at the Swedish Research Institute)

Day six started with hardships trying to find the first study visit of the day: the International Cultural Research Center (UKAM). Eventually we found the center, thanks to a man who walked us through the highway for about 30 minutes and very corteously wanted no sort of gratification (what a nice gesture).

The think tank’s main focus was on including Kurdish history, language and cultural studies in the Turkish Ottoman-centred school curriculum with the aim of spreading light on the vast minority group that is the Kurdish peoples. A highy interesting project indeed!

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Group photo (the think tank’s manager posing to the right).
After the visit to UKAM the group headed towards the Istanbul Kültür University where we took a bus from one campus to another in order to visit GPOT (Global Political Trends Center). GPOT is a think tank, specialized in consulting with expertise on foreign relations and peace and conflict studies. We met with three different students working for the think tank, all with different focus; two specializing in the Israel/Palestine conflict and the other one on Turkish/Cyprusian relations.
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Outside the University.

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At the lecture


Group photo.
The hardships with finding our way during that day didn’t end at the University, though. When we tried to get back in order to go to a lecture on coping Syrian refugees’ coping mechanisms at the Swedish Research Center, there had been a power black out in the city, which meant that we had to take the bus to get back. The station was of course crowded and some of us got lost in the stream of people (but we found them later of course) trying to get back to the city center. At last we found our way to the Research center and got there just in time for the lecture held by a psychologist from Uppsala University who had conducted field work in refugee camps at the Turkish-Syrian border with the focus on how religiosity affects mental health in troubling times (Syrian war).
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Lecture on religion’s coping mechanisms
Last but not least, the evening ended with a mingle with snacks and beverage at the research institute. Since most of us were leaving the next morning we had a little after party back at the hostel. Exhausted, but happy after this very interesting, fun and eventful day.
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/Peter (I kidnapped a kitty home to Sweden)

Day 5 March 30th (Consulate General of Sweden & Swedish Research Institute)

We’re standing on Istiklal Street, the main street of the Beyoğlu municipality. Although it’s just before 11 am, the sun is heating up well over the usual Lund Spring temperature and forces us to remove our jackets and sweaters. Around 2 million people cross Istiklal per day and today is no exception. The red Istiklal tram is running up and down the street, street sellers selling freshly made bagels to hurrysome businessmen and of course, tourists like myself running around with selfie sticks, baseball caps and disorientated looks.
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Istiklal’s characteristic tram
We’re here because we’ve been invited to the Consulate General of Sweden. Purchased in 1757, it’s the Swedish state’s oldest building on foreign ground, representing two and a half century of good diplomatic relations between the two. It’s a majestic building, indeed, with a beautiful garden in front of it and the Swedish flag waving high in the middle of a green grass circle.
   Outside the gate, however, a more brutal reality is apparent. Syrian refugees are standing outside the Consulate General, seeking to apply for residence permit in Sweden. My phone, which has been informing me nonstop about the hardships and realities of the war in Syria, is now manifesting itself in flesh and blood unbelievably upclose. Istanbul, being the East-West divide in many different aspects, serves as a port to the Western world and for the many refugees that have given up their lives unwillingly to build a future in the “Swedish paradise”.
   It’s now 11 am and we’re greeted by our contact person at the entrance to the Consulate General. The interior is by all means posh, with a 19th century rococo flamboyant atmosphere, associating my thoughts to big British balls for the royalty and aristocracy. We’re seated in the main hall and three members of the staff give us insight in what they do. They talk about their most frequent concerns up to date, regarding the migration situation; Europeans fighting for Daesh; cultural exchange programs between Sweden and Turkey; the establishment of Swedish companies in Turkey and drunk Swedish people losing their passports.
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Syrian refugees outside the Consulate General
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Outside the entrance to the Consulate General
Question and information round about the staff’s work
The selfie stick in action
After a mandatory selfie stick group photo with ourselves and the staff, we go directly behind the Consulate General building to the Swedish research institute. Here, we’re told, is just as it sounds, research in progress with emphasis on Turkey, the Middle East and Central Asia over a broad range of academic, journalistic, artistic and educational areas in the spheres of Humanities and Social Sciences. The research institute was founded in 1962 as one of three Mediterranean research institutes, who all faced threats of closure last year as the Swedish government sought to make budget cuts. The interior of the research institute differs in every aspect from the Consulate General. Instead of the almost antagonizing grand halls with its diamond rattling chandeliers, the research institute is filled with rooms of typical Scandinavian design, with high ceilings and a white archipelagian touch. When we explored the small maze of different rooms within the research institute I bumped into a psychologist from Uppsala University who invited us to his lecture on religion’s coping mechanisms for Syrian refugees on the Turkish-Syrian border, where he had carried out his field work.
Handing out the mandatory UPF Lund gifts: the latest issue of Utrikesperspektiv and a bag of tea (Lundablandning)
At the research institute
Rickard plans to do his research at the Institute someday in the future 
When we left the Consulate General and research institute we all went to grab a shish kebab in a joint across the building and then people were free to do whatever they wanted to. Since most people were still tired from the weekend and the study visits (trust me, they are super interesting but exhausting) we had a calm night with a dinner at a restaurant close to the hostel, that tasted close to nothing (it is very easy to get fooled in the touristy areas of Sultan Ahmet), but was enjoyable all the same with such a fun group as we were.

Day 4 (29th of March) – The Asian side


Today we all traveled to the Asian side together Ali. We started the journey with a vary late “breakfast” at around two a clock and there are few times in my life that i have eaten so much food. Me and a few others ordered a full Turkish breakfast with enormous amount of bread, a chili paste, yogurt with honey, jam more and we also ordered a Turkish omelet-type dish with eggs, tomatoes, cheese and pepper as well as fried bread with cheese.

So much food


After the delicious meal we moved on and arrived at the ferry that took us over The Bosphorus. It was one of the most peaceful experiences in my life. On the ferries top deck you could see the vast city and seemingly neverending city in all directions with all its mosques, houses and streets. All to the roaring sound of the ferry ans the seagulls that followed it, it was really beautiful.

Nice view with some nice people

The Bosphorus

Well on the Asian side we walked around and absorbed the atmosphere with Ali as our guide. After a while we stopped a took some coffee and after another while we stopped for dinner. In this place you could choose from several already cooked meals that where served instantly. After this we went back to hostel for an early nights sleep.

Dinner on the Asian side 

/ Rickard

Day 3 (28th of March) – Sightseeing de luxe

Hi everyone!

So for our third day we did some proper sightseeing after sleeping in! We met up with former UPF Secretary Ali who was here for the weekend and he showed us around. We started of with a trip to the Blue Mosque, which was very beautiful, and Ali was a great guide giving us a little history lesson about the different mosques in the city and the sultans they were built for.

blå mosken

The Blue Mosque

After that we continued with a trip to the Basilica Cistern, which is an old underground water reservoir that dates back to Byzantium times that isn’t used anymore but is really cool to look at. We also swung by the Royal Gardens. It really was a day with a lot of walking so we needed some sugar and Ali and his friend took us to a really great cafe were we ordered Turkish desserts in all forms and shapes before going back to the hostel through the spice bazaar to prepare for a night out on the town.

basilicaThe Basilica Cistern

cafeHigh on sugar!!

Istanbul kryddorSpices everywhere

For dinner we gathered everyone (plus some extra hostel people) and ate a great dinner on the main street in Taksim (center of Istanbul). Afterwards Ali took us to a blues club where we also hung out with these cuties:


Later on we ended up in a club street where we went to different clubs, one of them with an amazing view. All in all a very good day with both new and old friends!


/ Emelie

Day 2 (March 27th) – Woman’s and LGBT rights groups


Today we had two meetings, one with Women for Women’s Human Rights and the other with the LGBT rights organization SPOD. The first meeting was with Women for Women’s Human Rights, which started from 10am. It was a very nice and interesting meeting. The organization gave us a very detailed introduction about what they are doing. In the meeting, we discussed the current women’s situation in Turkey and what the organization did to help Turkish women to raise their social awareness. Good time always runs fast.

iSTANBUL 1Our first study visits 

ISTANBUL 2People listening with interest

When we finished the meeting, it was lunchtime already. We decided to have lunch together. We are a big group. And most of the restaurants are small and crowd. It is difficult to find a proper place to hold all of us. Finally we found a place with cozy environment, nice food and reasonable price.

ISTANBUL 3Good food and company

The other meeting with LGBT guys was at 2pm. Their office is in an old building located in Taksim. This organization is young which was founded in 2011. They experienced some hard time. But comparing with several years ago, LGBT people in Turkey have more liberty now. In the meeting we also introduced our UPF and tell them what we had done in Lund. They were very interested in our organization and we exchanged our contact information to keep contact. It was a long meeting. When we finished the meeting, it was already 4 pm. The weather in Turkey is changeable. It was sunny in the morning but when we walked out of the LGBT office, it started to rain. But walking in the rain is also romantic experience in Istanbul.

ISTANBUL 4 Todays second study visit

After some relax in the hostel, we went to Taksim, trying to find some nice food. Takism is situated in the European part of Istanbul, which is a major tourist and leisure district famed for its restaurants, and shops. However, like all the other tourist areas, the restaurants there are expensive and taste like the same. Okay, since we are the tourists here, then let us do what the tourists do. Eat, drink and enjoy the nightlife in Istanbul. Night just begin.

/ Elaine

Day 1 (March 26th) – Arriving in Istanbul

Hello everyone!

Today most of our travel group arrived in Istanbul. Due to the number of people we arrived at different times, some came here one day earlier and had already had time to visit the blue mosque and aya sofia by the time that we arrived plus some other things including buying selfie sticks. I arrived together with a group of five that left Copenhagen by direct flight at 12:30. Our journey started with a beer or a glass of vine after we forgot the time resulting in that we arrived to the gate as the last ones just before the plane was depart, causing somewhat of a cross reaction from the flight crew, but we nevertheless arrived in Istanbul high in spirit.

 Some arrived earlier

After collecting our bags we took the tram to the hostel just as night had just fallen. Our hostel was located in the old part of town in an area called dgxft and just by both the blue mosque and aya sofia. Apparently both these of Istanbul’s most famous landmarks are in front of each other separated only by a small park. In the hostel we live in a 30-room dorm and for the price we paid I am surprised with the high standard, it was far above my expectations. Living in such a big room, we had the share it and as one could expect this would resulting meeting the others staying there. During the previous day the ones arriving first had already started to know some of the and they seem like an interesting bunch.

During our first night we went out for dinner at a local restaurant, giving us our first try for Turkish food and is was delicious. Afterword’s we went back to the hostel and a vary pleasant time in their bar and we are all seeing forward to seeing more of this city in the following week.

Our first Turkish dinner

Over and out

/ Rickard

Wednesday, day 13 – West Zone Cultural Center and some sightseeing

We had our last meeting with West Zone Cultural Center during the morning. Unlike previous meetings this one was mainly focused on West Indian culture, traditions, arts and entertainment. The meeting later evolved into a conversation about both India and Sweden where we talked about both monsoons, cows, snow and nature. We got a private tour around the museum which is located in a beautiful royal house from the 1700s. Our talented guide Yussef taught us all about the royal family, history and fun India trivia.


Pictures from visit at WZCC

Afterwards we spent the day just strolling around in the beautiful city of Udaipur, drinking chai tea, doing last minute shopping and saying good bye to our newly found friends (both dogs, people and cows). We finished off the evening with a nice dinner at a roof top restaurant. Cheers to India!!!
Tomorrow we leave for Mumbai… we have heard it is supposed to be a bit cold, only 28 degrees!
Anahita trying to figure out which bedcover to buy

/Stina & Katrin