the most informative and mentally challenging semester of my life Past Review

By (Fordham University) - abroad from 02/06/2012 to 05/20/2012 with

SIT Study Abroad: Belgrade, Budapest, and Vienna - Comparative European Perspectives on Conflict and Democracy

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained so much confidence from my semester, and I learned that I was capable of more than I thought I was. I've also come back home with a stronger sense of what I want to do with my life, and my ISP made me incredibly excited for life after college. I definitely think my semester abroad was worthwhile, even if it was a difficult semester at times.

Personal Information

If you took classes at multiple universities, list those universities here: classes met at Singidunum University, but they all of the students were from the SIT program
How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

I learned a lot from my classes, especially my independent study project where I lived on my own and did research in Kosova. Besides the independent study project, however, I did not find the classes themselves to be particularly difficult, but I think that was important because adjusting to the culture and the history of the former Yugoslavia was challenging enough.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

I felt that I was in good hands with my program director and my homestay coordinator.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I loved my host family! We definitely had some different opinions and different understandings of history, but I worked through that with them, and I ended up having a very positive experience.

* Food:

Although I loved Serbian food (especially sarma!), it took a while for my body to adjust to the new food and bacteria.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I definitely felt like part of Belgrade and not like a tourist, but some of the cultural attitudes in the region--especially with respect to the last 20 years of history--made it difficult at times to be there.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I did have to go to the hospital once for my asthma, but my program coordinator took great care in finding an English-speaking doctor for me, and the hospital staff was great in working out my insurance costs.

* Safety:

I rarely felt unsafe while abroad. The only times I felt a little uncomfortable were when I was stranded in rural Kosova for an hour and one instance at a restaurant in Prishtine.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

I had a weekly stipend for food of about $10 per day, and that was plenty for eating. Also, because food is relatively inexpensive, I could apply some of this stipend towards my personal expenses.

* Was housing included in your program cost? Yes
* Was food included in your program cost? Yes
Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $35
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? It's important to adapt your brain to the local currency as soon as possible. If you have to convert every purchase from local currency to American dollars, you might be less frugal than you want.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

We were very much encouraged to speak in Serbian while we were in language class. Beyond that, it was mostly up to me to take the initiative to study on my own and to learn more on my own.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? none
How many hours per day did you use the language?
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Practice for a few hours on your own every night, especially if it's in a different alphabet. Buy a favorite book in the new language (for example, I bought Harry Potter) and read that; it will help you practice pronunciation and comprehension because you already know the story.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • Host Family
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • independent study project
  • excursions to Bosnia and Kosova
  • language class
* What could be improved?
  • accountability for predeparture readings
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? The most difficult aspects of the program were dealing with the heavy topics of the semester's themes. Although I appreciated going to Prekaz and Srebrenica, it was also mentally depressing to study genocide. That's obviously not anyone's fault, but I wish I'd thought more about how to deal with that before I went to Serbia.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Beginning Serbian

Course Department:
Instructor: Nikica Strizak
Instruction Language: Serbian and English
Comments: The class was difficult, but Nikica taught it in such a way that I learned more vocabulary and conversational Serbian in four months than I would have ever thought possible. She made the class fun and entertaining, and she offered lots of individual attention. Additionally, the field trips to the Belgrade Zoo and her presence on the excursion to Bosnia were awesome!
Credit Transfer Issues: