Hi blog world! I’ve never written one of these before so I’m not quite sure what to say or write. What I do know, though, is that I’m going to Baku, Azerbaijan soon to participate in the 2013 Baku Summer Energy School, hosted by the Azerbaijani Diplomatic Academy in conjunction with Azerbaijan’s state oil company (SOCAR). I’m very excited to participate in this program and to expand my knowledge about the world of energy. Looking at the program guide now, the list of topics to be covered is immense and comprehensive – energy fundamentals, energy law, strategic management of energy resources, energy politics, and so on. I have high hopes that I’ll learn a lot in a practical setting and be able to meet people that are already well-established in the fields of energy security and political risk analysis as it relates to energy. Additionally, because I’ve been away from AU for a few months doing an exchange in St. Petersburg, Russia and now an internship in Tbilisi, Georgia, I’m really excited to reconnect with and meet some more of my AU classmates. I also hope that we have ample time to explore the city of Baku! I have a family friend that lived for several years in Baku and based on her stories alone, it sounds like a fascinating place with a rich history.
But what’s really on my mind --- I’m a woman and I don’t know how I’ll be treated in Azerbaijan for that reason. To make matters even more interesting, I have fair skin and long, light-colored hair --- I definitely won’t blend in with the crowd. Unfortunately, I’ve been stared at and approached and even proposed to (!) enough times in southern European and Caucasus countries to be used to it, but I’m still extremely uncomfortable whenever it happens. I wonder, too, if I’ll be treated differently at the conference by some of the attendees because I’m female. Am I going to have to work extra hard to prove myself, or will everything be okay from the outset? I don’t know and I’m nervous to find out, but I’ll take each day as it comes here in Baku.