MY STUDENT MOBILITY IN BELGRADE: Zorana Stojnić, University of Banja Luka
University of Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Erasmus+ Mobility for Studies at:
University of Arts in Belgrade, Faculty of Music
Four months ago I came to Belgrade to study and finish the first semester of the fourth and final year of my studies. I am a student at the Academy of Arts in Banja Luka and my subject of study is piano playing and performing. Piano lessons and lessons of any other instrument, in general, are a bit different compared to the lectures of the other departments and colleges – the biggest difference is that piano lessons are individual.
Because they are individual, there is naturally a lot of space to have regular and open communication with your teacher and to kind of get used to his/her way of working. So, when I decided to apply to this exchange programme, one of the most important things to me was to find a good piano teacher in Belgrade and I was curious how it will turn out. I chose a teacher for who I heard that she is very nice and hard working. And she really is, she is an excellent musician but also a person who had the patience for me and made me feel confident about my playing.
Maybe the main reason I came as an exchange student to Belgrade is to experience living alone in another city and country. In Banja Luka, I lived with my family and I attended both high school and college there. Until I applied to the Erasmus exchange programme, I never had an opportunity to live alone outside my city and family. I am grateful for this opportunity and I think everything ended up really well. I had a scholarship that was enough to cover my living expenses so I did not have to worry about finances. It was a bit challenging to find a decent apartment in a short time and for a reasonable price but it was useful for my adapting skills. Another obligation that needed to be done was a residence permit. Again, I never went through that procedure before but at least I learned how it works and what I can expect if I go to live or to continue my studies abroad.
So, I should go back and tell you more about my studies in Belgrade. To be honest, when I was preparing to leave Banja Luka and come to Belgrade, I was a bit concerned – I did not know how the lessons looked like here, I had many courses in Belgrade that do not even exist in Banja Luka. I did not know how anybody will react to me, both professors and students. Since Bosnia and Serbia are neighbor countries, there are a lot of teachers and some students from my city who had some kind of experience in Belgrade, some studied here others have friends or they just held a concert in Belgrade. When I told them I am going there for four months, a lot of them told me the studies in Belgrade will be quite difficult and I got a bit afraid listening to their stories. The big surprise was that they were wrong, at least I can say my experience in Belgrade was different than theirs. Everyone here is hardworking and that is true but I realised that if you work properly, there is nothing that can go wrong. Both teachers and students were nice to me and were ready to help me with anything.
Since Music Academy in Banja Luka is quite smaller than this one in Belgrade, I noticed some differences. First, there are a lot more different courses and departments here and I am glad I could participate in some of them. The whole community is bigger and I guess you can not get bored, something interesting always happens and you always meet new people. That is what I really liked about this exchange programme, I got a chance to meet new people who had a bit different perspective on life and music, people who know about a lot of study options and are ready to share it with you. Actually, I was surprised how it is possible that two academies of music that are so close one to another have such different possibilities and their students have such a different perspective. I will definitely stay in touch with friends I met here and I hope we will collaborate in some way in the future. The city of Belgrade is a lot bigger than the city I come from, as I said previously, and of course, it offers a lot more than I was used to. It was quite fun exploring those possibilities and Belgrade itself. Since the language is the same in Belgrade as it is in Banja Luka I had no problem with communication with anybody.
As we all know in this year 2020/21 the whole world had all kind of different problems with Coronavirus. Serbia is of course one of them and the Serbian government had to protect their citizens so they made a lot of restrictions. Those restrictions did vary depending on the situation in the country but still, there were things that were impossible to do. That of course did affect my staying here and made some things harder for me but everyone tried to pull out the best from the situation and so did I. The biggest difference that Coronavirus restrictions made were online lectures. I went to the Academy only when I had Piano and Chamber Music classes, and when I had to practice. Online lessons and Coronavirus did make socializing a bit difficult for me because I rarely had a chance to meet and talk with students. But still, I did find a few opportunities. It was not like it would be if everything went back to normal but I did try my best and also I am glad that I had no health issues and that at least people I know stayed well and took care of themselves.
I think I wrote everything that I found important, the things I will remember and the things that made me learn and realize something I did not know before. Even now I feel like I am not entirely the same person as when I first came to Belgrade. I see and feel the differences that happened and I am sure I will notice them even more after a few months. I did go through some stress here, I guess that is normal when something changes in your life, but still, I feel much more motivated than I felt before. Studying here was a really useful change in my life and it gave me some kind of inspiration for the next moves and planes in my life. I also realized that everyone should make their own experiences and conclusions and not just listen to what others say. Advice from someone you know is a good thing sometimes but after all, we are all different and unique in some way and we can make certain things work for us that somebody else can not. My advice to the other students who would like to be a part of the Erasmus+ student exchange programme but are wondering is it worth the effort or if they are afraid: if you are curious and if you like the idea of doing and experiencing something new, this is the thing for you.