Third Year Abroad: Internship in Belgrade, Serbia

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There are many myths and legends about the Balkans. The best way to decide which of them are true is, of course, to visit the region yourself. Since I am studying the Serbian language, I have been to Serbia several times. Most recently I stayed in Belgrade for half a year and I had there one of the best times of my life.

During the first few days I felt overwhelmed by the big city. On the other hand, however, I had a lot of interesting things to do. One of them was completing my thesis on Borislav Pekić’s short story cycle titled Novi Jerusalem -Gothic Chronicle. I visited the Belgrade University and spoke to literature professors, who had helped me to choose the right resources. I almost met the wife of the writer but unfortunately she fell sick. I wish Novi Jerusalem was translated into other languages. So far I can strongly recommend translations of his other books and one of the stories from Novi Jerusalem, which you can find on Borislav Pekić’s blog: http://www.borislavpekic.com/search/label/English.

One month after my arrival, I started an internship in the Polish Embassy in Belgrade. I began my days with reading enormous piles of newspapers as I was writing reports about the current political situation in Serbia. More often, however, I was supporting the cultural department and writing articles about the Polish culture for the embassy’s website. During this time the Embassy organised a promotion of one of Olga Tokarczuk’s books. It was an exciting event for me, as I used to attend her classes which I really enjoyed. She is also one of the best known Polish writers.

Belgrade 3 Julia Euterpe 3 with logo

 My stay in Belgrade wouldn’t be as enjoyable, if I haven’t had met so many wonderful people. They made me like the city more. I joined a German-Serbian Club and some of the meetings took place outdoors, for example in a nice park called Tašmajdan. This is how I discovered some parks of the city and another green place in Belgrade: an island on the river called Ada Ciganlija, where I liked to swim and spend sunny afternoons. After a day spent on the island I liked to go out in the neighbourhood Savamalawhere my favourite cultural centre was situated: KC GRAD,which hosts lots of different events and parties. Sometimes we went out to Jazz Club Čekaonica, located on the top of a huge building, BIGZ, one of the biggest publishing houses in former Yugoslavia. I also liked to visit Bitef Teatar which is located in a reconstructed evangelic German church and it’s a great place for all modern theatre lovers. In may, when my stay was coming to an end and some of my friends visited me, we spent whole evenings on one bench, in the garden of the charming Ružica church, on famous fortress Kalemegdan. We also loved hidden bars, which were really difficult to find, but it was worth the effort. If you happen to find yourself in Belgrade, try to find The Federal Association of Globe Trotters. And if you suffer from Yugo-nostalgia,Muzej Istorije Jugoslavije is the place to be.

Belgrade, Anna Kensoń 1 with logo
During the three months of my internship I went on numerous trips. Countless rides to nearby villages and towns like lovely Inđija will always stay in my memory. The most exciting  trip though was an excursion to Istanbul, where I flew for five days in the beginning of May. Although I went there alone, I didn’t feel lonely. My hosts from Couchsurfing were excellent guides, cooks and entertainers. Several days spent in the sunny, wonderful and magical city were the best holidays I could imagine. My stay in Belgrade was definitely a great experience. It is slowly time to plan another trip to the region. 
Written by Joanna Michta 
Edited by Alicja Zajdel 
Photos courtesy of Julia Euterpe and Anna Kensoń

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