I'm Hi, my name is Aneta, and I come from a city called Białystok placed in North-eastern Poland. I'm in the fifth year of Logistics Engineering.
1. Why did you choose to come to Novi Sad on an exchange program, and what obstacles and difficulties did you have due to the pandemic?
I picked Novi Sad because of the diversity of opportunities. This city allows me to find hobbies and causes that interest me and participate in various organisations. I knew I wanted to meet many people and have a range of experiences to broaden my knowledge and perspective and become a more well-rounded person. I met amazing people here during participation in the organisation of film festivals, music events and protests, and I know those relationships will be valuable for years to come.
The location of Serbia allows me to travel through several countries without exceeding my budget. Also, I didn’t want to go to “obvious” countries where I would meet half of the students from my home university.
I was also interested in the quality of professors available at the University of Novi Sad. Cooperation with them and working in the laboratory as a PhD assistant helped me work on my Meng thesis and impact my future work.
When it comes to pandemic, I had problems with not Serbian vaccination pass and the necessity of taking tests every time I crossed the border for two months. And a lot of places are closing earlier because of restrictions.
2. Did those obstacles demotivate you, and did you want to give up the exchange at some point?
The problem with covid tests, as a vaccinated person, really demotivated me for travelling for some time. But I just visited many beautiful places in Serbia at that time.
3. What was the biggest culture shock for you when you came to Serbia?
I don’t think I had a culture shock here. Polish and Serbian culture is similar in a lot of aspects.
4. Which moment from the exchange will you remember the most?
I don’t have a specific moment, but probably time with my friends.
5. Are you involved in an activist organisation, how engaged are you in activism in Novi Sad, or what are your activities?
During a stay in Novi Sad, I was involved in organising film and art festivals such as Filmski Front or Videomedeja. I also volunteered for Fruška Gora and Đerdap cleanups. I attended animal rights and environmental issues protests in Novi Sad and Belgrade, like those organised by Eko Straža.
6. What do you think about activism in Serbia, and how much are young people socially engaged?
Our generation is engaged in activism, and we are ready for changes. I also saw it in Serbia when thousands of young people were still going on the streets to fight for what they believed in, even in rain or winter cold.
7. What are the current problems and values you are fighting for?
The closest case for me is women’s rights and body autonomy, which has been a massive issue in my country since last year. Furthermore, I’m part of a Polish climate change organisation and sex education project in schools. When it comes to my time in Serbia, I’m primarily focused on animal rights and finding stray dogs new homes.
8. What is your recommendation for exchange and living abroad for young people?
Don’t be scared. Be open to every opportunity. Enjoy every day of that experience.
9. What did you like the most in Serbia, and what would you change?
I love the hospitality of Serbs and the tempo of social life in Novi Sad. The only things that I would change in Serbia are the stray animals’ problem and the amount of salt in food.
Interview by: Teodora Šiklošić