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Summer 2007

Study Abroad Program belgradeThe first Study Abroad Program in Belgrade was organized in June of 2007 and eleven students participated. Most were seniors and juniors from Clemson, but we had also graduates and students from Berkeley in California and Boise State in Idaho. The program was designed to engage them as a group but also provided individual attention to satisfy their different academic needs.

All participants were delighted and the evaluation illustrates that quite vividly. Following are the quotes from the Student Assessment of Instructors:

"There is no other way to explain the Belgrade program than phenomenal."

"This was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I was able to learn while having great time."

"Without a doubt the best experience of my academic career."

"Couldn't have picked a better program, not only did I learn more in one month than I usually learn in a year, but had so much fun".

"It gave me a really unique opportunity for hands on learning."

 "This program was well-organized and full of incredible conversations and interactions with major players in Serbia's future. My eyes were opened up to an interesting and impressive culture with a lot to share with the rest of the world … a more meaningful experience than of fellow students participating the typical programs offered through Clemson."

 "The structure of the program was perfect… so many individuals of such a varied range of political occupations really gave me a priceless view of the political and social situation not only in Serbia but of countries in general … a better understanding of international politics than all my previous studies combined."

"The program also gave me a really clear picture of the variety of opportunities within international relations and has absolutely confirmed my desires to pursue a career in this field."

belgradeIn their journals the students elaborated impressions and their views of Belgrade and Serbia, and most importantly the people they were meeting:

Elizabeth Armstrong had chosen this particular program because she was looking for an experience unlike the usual program in super touristy areas of the world. After walking trough the fortress and streets of Belgrade the first day she realized this was exactly the trip she was looking for: "Great people, beautiful places, transitioning country… The excitement never died down. During the last week, I felt just as excited if not more about my trip as when I arrived." She noticed that the young people have a strong sense of fashion with western influence and posh styles and felt like she was more at home than the urban Serbian city. "It blows my mind to walk through the streets and witness how relaxed the society can be-all day! … We sat down for iced coffee at what has become a favorite "tradition" of Serbia – the outside café … It was great!" She is hoping that her travels later in life will bring her back there, maybe for a longer time.

Kelly McDonough says that her experience in Belgrade changed her life and her perception on the world and sincerely hopes that the others may get the opportunity to study such a captivating place. Her "first impression was awe…outdoor cafés, beautiful lights, people walking all in the streets licking ice cream or eating pizza, and local music bands playing in the background. It was completely stunning… Belgrade appeared to be a thriving metropolis. Traffic was always busy… At first sight I truly was mesmerized by such a beautiful and unique place."

belgradeTate Fennell found Serbia "full of so much history" and Belgrade "amazing and unforgettable." He concludes "once-in-a-lifetime experience."

Nathaniel Strickland was impressed by the caliber and high level of people he was able to meet – "everyone was a mover and shaker of the Serbian political scene". It was fascinating for him to examine a society in transition and he "can also now better appreciate the political stability and economic prosperity of the US."

Philip Cagle, graduate student from Tennessee says "The quantity of experiences that have impacted my view of the world were so numerous and significant that they can not all be touched on … interaction with Serbian college students provided an extremely valuable opportunity to discuss global issues with someone from our generation with a vastly different background". The prevalence of western culture within Serbia and the hospitable approach of the locals made him feel as though he was often still at home. "Practically everyone I met throughout the trip was very nice".

Mike Olsen, an Alaskan from Boise State University in Idaho, felt comfortable finding out that most of the people the group talked with spoke perfect English and it was easy to get along with everybody in the cafés, the streets and anywhere else.

Eleana Lindsey from Chicago, who graduated last August, loved sightseeing and familiarizing with the Serbian culture and her favorites were three excursions which allowed her to better understand the heart of Serbia. She will remember for the rest of her life encounters with politicians and fellow students. Eleana enjoyed talking about "world politics, vegetarianism, peanut butter and everything in between".

Callie Roth enjoyed her time in Belgrade and fell in love with the city. She was very sad to leave since she "found a bunch of amazing attributes of Belgrade which I want to return to." She was "incredibly impressed with how willing the Serbs are to open up and have in depth discussions on a range of subjects." Also she loved the opera An Italian in Algiers because "the singing was amazing" and the ballet Swan Lake which she found to be "an absolutely amazing performance. The dancers and orchestra were spectacular; it was probably one of my favorite things". The trip provided her with "a priceless understanding of not only Serbia but also foreign relations and politics in general… As a political science student, I could not have asked for a better view on so many aspects of politics and society of a country, especially in a nation as politically interesting as Serbia."

Lily Lynch, a senior from Berkeley in California found the trip to Belgrade "so immensely life-altering that it has helped to clarify my future goals". She has a new consciousness about what it means to be an American abroad. "I never met more open, friendly and giving people in my life." She greatly enjoyed meeting students from the Faculty of Political Science. "Despite our separate languages, cultures, experiences related to war and the like, the common ground we had overwhelmed the differences."

Matthew Crennan's experiences not only changed the way he views Serbia but the world at large. "Immersing yourself in a completely different culture is a far better and more fun than learning from books or classes." He realized that "Belgrade was just as urban as any American city. Walking around the city I almost forgot I was not in an American city." He observes "The number of Serbs who spoke English was also impressing."