It's good to be HERE (and by here I mean the FORUM as I am still in Australia).
This is my first post and even though I am still not THERE, I feel I have become a part of your forum group just through reading about you & your experiences in & around Belgrade - what a fantastic way to learn & share about a new culture and its people, good on you for initiating something like this!
My partner & I are planning to come to Belgrade next year to start a new phase in our life (a more relaxed one!)... She is an Aussie-Serb and I am an Aussie-hmm... Irish, English, Danish, Maltese... the list goes on & on! :)
As a way of discovering as much as we can about Serbia, but Belgrade in particular, we have embarked on some reasonably thorough research about the Serbian culture, way of living, customs, mentality, etc, etc. And what has kind of shocked us so far is that there are AT LEAST two distinct groups of people that have an almost diametrically opposed view when it comes to living in Belgrade!! This difference is really mind blowing, especially for my partner, who understands the culture and the mentality and speaks the language but is unsure what to contribute this enormous difference in perception to!!
One group are the non Serbian expats (there for work, or because one partner is Serbian, or for pleasure, etc. etc, such as this group!) that are pretty much content with their life there... These people are aware of all the horrendous bureaucratic pitfalls, horrible pollution, lack of non-smoking venues, and the other everyday bits and pieces that can be quite challenging at times... But overall and DESPITE all of the problems, this group seems genuinely quite sympathetic towards Belgradians and quite pleased, some would say even happy, with their current life in Belgrade.
The other group is the Serbian expats, those who left Serbia when the last war in ex Yugoslavia started (or finished), or those who left the country towards the end of Milosevic's era, or right at the end - when Milosevic was no longer in power & there was incredible hope that things might improve...This group seems very, very BITTER, to say the least! Some of them went back to Serbia, mainly Belgrade, full of ideas and enthusiasm and willing & hoping that they will be able to impart their newly gained experience and knowledge, just to find out that they couldn't live there, they coudn't stand it, they discovered "the same old story" is still in place and are consequently leaving Serbia to return to their adopted country. Within this group there are also those that just simply say: "I could not think of anything worse than to go back to Serbia/Belgrade!", they are that BITTER!!
I could go on & on, but you get the gist...
So I'm just wondering, in your experience, what is it that makes YOUR life as a resident there enjoyable enough to continue to live and to be happy in Belgrade/Serbia? Apart from perhaps having a family bond, what are the OTHER things that make it worth while? And do you have any ideas whatsoever why some Serbian ex-pats so quickly leave Belgrade after wanting for years & years to come back to their home town and start afresh? Why are you content and they are so disappointed even though you both live in the same city and are exposed to the same culture, life style and mentality? Any ideas??!
Would love to hear from you and share your insights! Cheers!