the Balkans blew my mind Past Review

By (Political Science, Grinnell College) for

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 just applied for a teaching assistanship program in Macedonia because I want to go back to the Balkans soon!

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

My final paper was a 60 pg paper based off of a month of conducting field work in Bosnia and Herzegovina

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The program is very student focused--we had a lot of opportunity to direct our own research, and a lot of the responsibility of the coursework was placed on our shoulders. The program has a strong experiential learning component, involving travel (within the city and regionally) which was important in developing multiple perspectives on the material we were approaching.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I had two host families--one that spoke primarily in English to me (my host mother taught English) and I learned less Serbian. But my second host family, in Bosnia, my language skills increased dramatically. I had a wonderful time living with both my families--I changed families because I wanted to conduct field work in Bosnia, not Belgrade.

* Food:

Serbia is not an easy place to be a vegetarian, and I decided before I left to begin eating meat for my stay there. It was difficult for the vegetarian in our group, but she managed.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

We spent two weeks traveling through Bosnia and a week in Prishtina (Kosovo), which were amazing experiences. In addition, we were encouraged to explore Belgrade on our own, and I developed a really wonderful relationship with the city.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

I felt so safe in Belgrade--walking alone at night as a woman was not a problem. While it took a while to get used to how Serbian men interacted with women, I never felt threatened or in danger.

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)


If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • the flexibility and ownership of learning
* What could be improved?
  • maybe a little stronger of a peace and conflict studies theoretical framework
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? The program demands self motivation, and passion. But do it! The program has the flexibility to meet the interests of students from a wide variety of backgrounds, and was an amazing experience for me.