7 thoughts after 7 days: Belgrade, Serbia
Secrets of the 7th month
*Full Disclosure: I only spent five days in Serbia before I headed out to Montenegro for a weekend and then California for ~5 days for work. Now, this post is late and I’m in Copenhagen for a week before returning to Belgrade for my last week in the city
Belgrade is cool. A little weird, but cool.
It’s one of those places you just don’t know what to expect. No expectations is always good because usually you’re pleasantly surprised.
I’ve definitely been surprised by Belgrade. From the food to (most of) the people, this city is full of gems. Here are some thoughts captured during my first week in the city.
1. I’m getting Córdoba vibes.
After our sixth month in Prague, you could feel a bit of a reset. We were halfway through. Shit was real, the end was near, all that jazz. It was a bit refreshing to see more familiar faces out and about and a bit more of a community feel. It reminds me of our traveling fraternity-like habits that existed back in month one in Córdoba, Argentina. We feel a little more like a family and I can only hope that continues.
Belgrade also has the gritty, but cool vibes that Córdoba boasted. Secret cafés, randomly cool bars. Córdoba was so much more than it seemed, and I definitely get the same feeling from Belgrade.
2. You’re responsible for your first impression of a city. Not it.
Some people, including me at times, expect to be wowed by a city the moment you touchdown in it. Maybe you’ve been told “Oh, you’ll love ______!” or people have said “Oh gosh, _____ is so cool.”
These kinds of statements induce expectations because people don’t always tell you exactly what made it so cool or what you’ll love about it. Sure, there are blanket statements like “it’s a fun city to go out in” or “they have a great foodie scene,” but it’s very rare that these blanket statements are what make a person say those things about a city.
You have to figure out how to have the best first impression of a city. For me, having a great first impression of Belgrade was heading out a food tour the day after I arrived. I can safely say that the Gastro Balkan tour set me off on a pace for my seventh month that is how I want to start every city: knowing, exploring, and experiencing the food culture. It’s what makes me happiest and it also helped me cultivate local relationships.
Moving forward, I’ll know what to look for before I land in a city to make that month or experience the best it can be.
3. Oh man I miss my bed.
No explanation needed.
4. Don’t take your couch for granted.
On Remote Year, it’s been somewhat rare for our apartments or apart-hotels to have a proper living room. When we are lucky enough to have one (like in Belgrade), it really feels like we’re at home. It creates a comfortable environment for when we are actually spending time in the apartment, which is actually somewhat rare, that feels so much more relaxing. It is something to look forward to.
5. I’m a summer gal.
Belgrade is the first European city that really feels like summer and to be honest, it’s nice to be back in the heat.
[Insert tan emoji here]
6. Life happens.
Remote Year is hard — so is life. Remote Year is life. It’s not a vacation. Yes, Instagram makes it look like that but it’s not. We’re living a faster paced life than most people out there, all while keeping up our own jobs. Some are luckier than others in terms of jobs and finances. Some people have different expectations for the program.
We’ve had people leave the program and it’s hard not to rethink things when that happens. What I do remind myself is that life happens. There are ups and downs to all of this and in the end, everyone has to do what is right for them.
7. Trust your gut.