Contributed by Sally Wang Check out more of their posts from this summer here.

Given my expectations, Belgrade has been far beyond my imagination. Since it is my first time ever in Europe, the very second our car entered old Belgrade, those attractive and mysterious European styles impressed me, and I was really excited to see the views that I had only ever seen in movies. Just thinking about what this city can offer to me makes me even more optimistic about the following two months. My first week seems to me a week full of surprise, and different parts of my life: my host family, my work, my own explorations and my daily life in the city, brought me different views.

First comes first, I really believe that a good host family is key to my transition and adaptation to the new culture, and thanks to Jelena (whom both my host mom and I believe to know everything), I was given such an adorable host family. My host family consists of three people, host mom, host dad, and a cute 7 year old host sister. I feel really grateful that my host parents are really patient with me so they compensate for my culture shock to a large extent. As an only child and the youngest in the whole family, I have no idea how to live with siblings and I have never thought about taking care of others. Therefore, living with my host sister is absolutely a novel experience for me. At first, I just felt fortunate to have such a cute and pretty little sister, but having a sibling is never simple. My host sister is the center and treasure of this family, as they prepare special food for Nani, my sister, whenever we talk about Nani, my host parents are so proud that they can’t help but smile, and Nani is always surrounded by Mom and Dad at the same time. All these details remind me of my situation at home, but ironically it was only after I had witnessed the love of a family from an outsider’s view when I started to realize how lucky I am to have so much love but at the same time how I take everything for granted. Therefore, living in a homestay family reshape my attitude toward family relationships in a more objective way.

Another thing that impresses me is willingness of Serbians to welcome and try new things. One day when I was just randomly walking around the city with only a map and a camera, I met two interesting guys. The first guy who saw my Asian face and the things I was carrying, recognized me as a tourist and asked if I need help. During the conversation, he told me that he was bored with his daily life and had just booked a ticket to Greece, so, just like what he said, “he is ready for a new life.” He said he always dreamt of exploring new places by himself, just like what I was doing at that time, even though the reality was actually that I was just waiting for the English tour at Tesla’s Museum, so I had nothing to do besides to walk around. Similarly, the second guy, who wanted to practice his English with me (what an unwise choice), expressed his curiosity of both the States and China and kept bombarding me with questions. I am really impressed with their passion.

This week proved to be a really good beginning, and after getting more familiar with the city, I am ready for the following colorful and interesting life in Belgrade.


One thought on “Culture

  1. This is SO interesting! It’s great that our descriptions of the Belgrade cityscape didn’t blunt your surprise at seeing this wonderful place for the first time. In our orientation conversations, we (alums from earlier years, Marjana and I) emphasized big picture issues — like politics, history, inter-ethnic friction, and refugees. But we said nothing about the emotional dimensions of the DE experience, which was the most compelling part of your first week. I really like your description of finding yourself in the midst of a new one-child family. Just think, you and Nani could become one another’s closest siblings (even though you’re nearer in age to her parents). I hope you’ll take notes so you remember conversations with your host parents, who seem so warm and welcoming they must be wise, too. BTW this is a GREAT photo!!!


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