Thursday, October 25, 2007

Finally entering the real world

I should probably introduce myself a bit more and explain what I've been doing for the last few months. I'm Adam and I'm 23 years old (and to be honest, that's the first time I've seen my age written down in the last few years and it is slightly odd - flashback to when I was ten, thinking that it would take ages to reach 20). I'm from Edinburgh, Scotland, lived there most of my life apart from 3 years spent studying Serbian & Croatian at The University of Nottingham, plus 1 year in Belgrade studying at the Filololski Fakultet on my year abroad. I say 'studying', more like having the time of my life, drinking coffee all day in the hundreds of wonderful coffee shops in this city, and partying all night in nightclubs or in fellow international Serbian language students' flats - some of the most crazy, eventful and crowded flat parties I ever had the pleasure of attending or indeed hosting. Friendships were made and subsequently lost as we all headed back to our homelands, after we had the precious 'I passed the filoloski fakultet' certificate in our hands. Luckily, my Serbian friends didn't go anywhere, and again we are drinking coffees, clubbing and sipping gin in our flats (but not to the same extent as the year abroad).

Perhaps, I should expand on my interests. Well, I like Serbia, I like Bosnia, I like everything to do with Yugoslavia (I was lucky enough to set foot in Yugoslavia before it was destined to the dustbin - when it comprised of Serbia and Montenegro and before it was renamed to, erm...'Serbia & Montenegro'), and of course I have an odd attraction to Albania. I like all of those elusive countries, which many in the West probably haven't even heard of. I don't know why, I just do. But then why do people like France, spend all the time they can in Spain or Germany or love the US? They just do - they're interested in the history, the culture, the music, the food, the language or perhaps just the beaches (and Serbia ticks all of those boxes, apart from the beach one - thanks a lot Montenegro!) Putting the Balkans aside, I enjoy electronic music and dancing away until the morning with good friends and a party atmosphere which the more mainstream pop and, seeing as I'm based in Serbia, turbo-folk clubs just can't compare to. I love to travel, I love to visit new cities, towns and villages. I want to see what life is like elsewhere, I want to see what the people who live in which ever city I'm visiting do, how life is for them. I deliberately get all the touristy sights out of the way as quickly as possible and move on to living in the place, not just seeing it (whether that's just for a few hours or a few days). I'm also very keen on keeping up with current affairs, across the world, and especially concerning the Balkan region. I read and watch the news at any opportunity, the second I get up I'm reading the latest headlines, before a single drop of coffee has passed my lips (and that is saying something - I can't do anything else until I've had my caffeine fix). I'm no way near to being a political or current affairs analyst but I like to know what's going on and form my own opinions (whether they are right or wrong in the eyes of some).

So, I graduated from Serbian and Croatian studies in July, 2007. The month and a half between the last ever lecture with Vladislava and handing in that those last ever essays, with dread and fear might I add, to David was spent with friends, discussing what the future holds for us. Some were frantically applying for those graduate schemes with huge companies such as PricewaterhouseCoopers or Cadbury's, others were some planning to travel to the Far East to teach English, and then there were those who didn't have a clue. However, I knew exactly where I was going and didn't have to think twice about it - BELGRADE, SERBIA. Where else?!

Therefore, quite literally, a mere few hours after handing back my academic robes, degree firmly in my hand, and some sad goodbye's to people whom I'd become close friends with over the last four years, I was off to London to catch my Czech Airlines flight to Belgrade, stopping over for one hour in Prague. This particular journey to Belgrade was absolute luxury. You see, I had been visiting Belgrade at all possible opportunities during my final year of university, although being a poor student it had to be as cheap as possible. Cheap as possible meant a bus from Nottingham to London Luton, a Wizzair flight to Zagreb and then a train to Belgrade (and the reverse to get back), totalling a whopping 23 hours of travelling, with 5 hours waiting in Luton airport overnight, which is not fun, plus another 4 hours wait in Zagreb, again not fun by yourself. In fact, now I have a deep hatred for Zagreb and have vowed never to return there (please, I have nothing against Zagreb as a city, but the hours spent with nothing to do apart from waiting in the cold train station, too tired and sleep deprived to even contemplate wandering around the city, has left a deep desire to avoid Zagreb at all costs ). Repeat this trip four times, there and back, and you can probably see why flying (almost) directly in to Belgrade was just fantastic!

So, I arrived in Belgrade in the middle of July, no longer a procrastinating student. I was in the real world - the world of job interviews, careers and money. Well, maybe not quite yet, four hours after arriving in my new home I was partying the weekend away at the Dance Arena at The Exit Festival 2007 in Novi Sad.

Hangovers gone, back in Belgrade, and student life firmly left behind, it was time to find employment. I sent off e-mails, made some contacts and went to a few interviews at language schools, although the last thing I wanted to do was to become a teacher, but one does need to survive. Now it's nearly the end of October and tonight I'm going to my first shift at a Serbian news agency, translating the Serbian news into English. Here I am, about to start my first, shall we say, proper job (bar work doesn't count in my opinion) and I'm terribly excited. Unfortunately, it's only part time (and I mean REALLY part-time), so my job search will continue, but with added confidence and enthusiasm.

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Anonymous said...

Belgrade does have a great effect on everyone who visits, completely its own place, unique. I share your happy memories and hope to make many more :-)

markowe said...

Oh, it seems so long ago, that distant year of 1996 when I turned up in Belgrade, green as you please, suitcase in hand, the world my proverbial oyster..!

Who'd have thought that 11 years on I would still be here and further than ever from returning to Britain..!

Watch out, it's catching!

Moved East Forums - expats, stay sane in the Balkans and Eastern Europe!

Dr Chris said...

Hey! Just wanted to say hi and congratulations on that job. It sounds brilliant. Hopefully I'll come and see you in the next 6 months. I just got back from 2 nights in Prague. Beautiful city and cheap beer! See you soon xx

Anonymous said...

Adam, you've gone all writer-ey! I love it! Keep this shizzle up, I want pages full.
Laraski x

Jo said...

Great writing, Adam. I have just subscribed to your RSS and hope to be able from now on to enjoy some of your fresh and creative thoughts every day. ;-)

Greetings from Hamburg


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