Utisci, saveti, reakcije 2016



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The life of Jewish minority in modern Europe

Roughly, due to needs of this essay, we could divide European history before (ante) and after (post) modernization. De facto, modern day Europe is post Christian, post holocaust, secular, multicultural society. Europe acquired this status relatively in modern times, it wasn’t always like that.

Synagogue in Toledo, SpainSynagogue in Toledo, SpainThrough European history there was one beneficial minority which prevailed in both periods previously mentioned. Today, they still live in Europe but will they continue to do so?

For centuries Europe was inhabited by millions of Jews, those traders and educated people who contributed Europe vastly. However, religiously motivated hatred and intolerance towards Jews were very common all the way until French revolution which took place in 1789. Since then, Jewish life in Europe kept progressing until Holocaust, such a great tragedy eradicated more then 90% of European Jews. After such a devastating event, European countries were determined to revive Jewish heritage that they almost have extinguished. Have they succeeded so far?

For 22 days I have been traveling though Western Europe and Scandinavia, visiting Jewish communities where I could. Actually, at the time of writing this essay I am studying at Paideia, institute for Jewish studies, located at Stockholm.

General overview

Holocaust memorials all over GermanyHolocaust memorials all over GermanyGenerally speaking, number of Jews living in Europe is declining. In 1939 there were an estimated 9.5 million Jews living in Europe. Today their numbers have diminished to roughly 1.4 million, just 0.2 percent of Europe’s total population.

Having Jewish community as referential point, reasons for such a decline could be divided in two groups: external and internal.

External ones are connected to security threats and rise of anti-Semitism. Such type of hatred is usually generated by far right nationalistic movements across Europe and radical Islamic groups.

Internal reasons have to do with general growth of atheism (secularism) in Europe and the inability of European Jewish leadership (secular and religious) to keep Jewish culture (Judaism) alive and prosperous.

The light at the end of tunnel - Berlin or ultra orthodox Jewish communities?

Orthodox Jew in move, AntwerpOrthodox Jew in move, AntwerpIs the community here growing ? “ I kept asking orthodox Jews I met in streets of Antwerp.  They all replied positively. Orthodox (or ultraorthodox) Judaism represents a broad spectrum of groups among Ashkenazi Jews characterized by rejection of modern secular culture. This movement emerged in response to the sweeping changes brought upon the Jews in the modern era: emancipation, enlightenment, acculturation etc. Orthodox families have a lot of children (in contrast to secular or traditional families) and many think that such way of life is key for Jewish survival in Europe (and elsewhere).

The New Synagogue, BerlinThe New Synagogue, BerlinBerlin is the fastest growing Jewish community in world! There are approximately 30-40 thousands of Israelis in Berlin. Berlin's dynamic, prosperous present and its rich, pre-World War II Jewish past initially attracted an influx of Jews. The renaissance of Jewish culture is taking place in modern Berlin, former epicenter of Holocaust!

Jews for Jesus - the newest threat?

Christian missionaries seeking to convert Jews are something unseen on European soil for centuries, an itchy reminder of Middle Ages.

Jews in Europe are already facing enough problems without such movements.  

Conclusion

Christian Missionaries, BerlinChristian Missionaries, BerlinI strongly think that time has come for the “Berlin Jewish renaissance” to spread widely outside Berlin across whole Europe. May all relevant subjects collaborate and march towards mutual future interest!  

 

 

 

Aleksandar David Petrovic

 

In today's fast-paced world, we forget about how important .the protection of our environment is. We all know that the household and factory garbage produced every day is polluting the environment, so we have to find a solution because it is starting to cause irreversible changes in the environment and in our lifestyles.

Barcelona- metro stationBarcelona- metro stationBerlin train stationBerlin train stationI found this subject very important and because of that I even wrote my thesis about recycled toys, while I was studying?
As I was searching I found out that the paper takes 10-30 days- , the wood takes 10-15 years-, the tin takes 100-500 years-, plastic takes a few 1000 of years to decompose, and the glass never decomposes. Before my research I never even thought about this, I just heard that recycling is important to protect the environment and dot, but no one ever told me numbers and years, which are really important to really realize the importance of it.

These days there are a lot of people out there taking part in recycling and during my trip to Europe I was happy to see that all the countries that I was visiting had recycling trashcans, on the main streets, public places, train stations, toilets, beaches.      

Espinho- beachEspinho- beachLisabonLisabonWhat I really appreciated  was that on the streets I saw not only the first part of the recycling -the collecting, but I saw the results of it too.
This shows us that we are one piece in the puzzle. Who knows, maybe the trash that we threw away yesterday can be a masterpiece today.

What can we do?

-First of all we should collect all the garbage in our house that is of no use to us and send it to recycle.

-We should avoid the plastic bags and papers.

-We have to inform the younger generation about recycling to start it from the young age.

If we work together we can have a better future, because it's a ,,one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind”, Neil Armstrong.

Andrea Galambos

 

Mobile applications on Interrail vacation

Best decision ever was to apply for the programme “Travel to Europe 2016”. As I got accepted, adrenaline started to rise, I wanted to see as many countries, cities, monuments, museums as possible! I have found my travel companions rather quickly, and we have planned our route with no problems. We knew which clothes we want to bring with us, we knew how much money we need to prepare, we even planned some food to bring. But as an IT student, I knew that something is missing! Experienced participants of the “Travel to Europe” programme told me that the internet is a luxurious thing on such dynamic vacation. So, I have prepared some mobile apps which could help us in our future adventures.

Internet was luxury! There is no free internet on the streets! If there is, it is unusable slow connection, so be prepared for that. So before you start your trip, arm your mobile phones with some useful offline mobile apps. If you using mobile phone with Windows operating system, you should consider borrowing some Android or iOS phone.

Applications I found useful the most are:

Plan your trip - official Interrail mobile application, available for Android and iOS. Train schedules and more are available for every country where interrail ticket is valid. It works in offline mode, and without this app, we would miss a lot off trains, and we would spend many more hours at help desks at train stations.

Here maps - it is the map based application with possibility to use it as a navigation. Best of all is that you can download offline maps for every country! Maps are really detailed so it will provide you with enough information while you are trying to find shortest path to desired destination.

Paper maps are great, but they can’t guide you in real time, calculate the distance, tell you when to turn left or right (trust me, this is a big problem while using paper map).

HostelWorld - this app need internet connection to work, but it gives the easiest way to reserve some hostel for you and your travel companions.

AirBnb - this app also need internet connection to work but if you look for the apartment or shared flat, it is great! Community is strong on AirBnb, platform is well developed so you are sure that you will get what you pay. You should also check mobile applications for the city you are traveling to. For example, Barcelona and Berlin have useful mobile apps that work offline and they can provide you with many specific and interesting information.

If you are lucky enough to have the internet, use Google, it has everything!

I wish you good luck on your Interrail trip! It was my best summer, I hope it will fulfill your expectations also!

Sincerely,

Branislav Vidojevic

 

 I would like to thank everyone from organization of this project, because they gave us chance to see new places and learn about different cultures, and also to our hosts in Berlin, because they made a lot of effort to make our workshops interesting. I was really amazed by places our Local Hero had shown us, that was really a unique experience. Without them we would probably missed these hidden parts of Berlin. I also visited beautiful small part of Hamburg - Nettelnburg, climbed on the roof of Science center NEMO and whole Amsterdam was in front of me. And sweet Belgium - waffles in Ghent, chocolate in Bruges. I finally understood why Paris is called The City of Light. Even from train the south of France looked beautiful. I got blister from long walks in Barcelona, but pain is a small price for a chance to personally see Gaudi`s work . In Madrid, we had free tour through the city and guide told us story about bear and broccoli tree and I learned something new about constellation Ursa Minor.

I noticed, that when people ask me what are mine impressions from trip, I often tell them about small things that would be great for us to have in our country. For example, trash cans for recycling, juicer with oranges in supermarkets, public libraries , solar panels, windmills, better touristic offer, more parks and places for relaxation. It would be great for environment if we could use more bicycles. Also I had great experience with CouchSurfing, we meet  very interesting  people, learnt  some useful tips about travelling, and learned some interesting things about their culture and  habits . They also changed my understanding of the idea of CouchSurfing and they motivated me to become host to someone who will visit Belgrade. This was a great challenge for me, because this was first time I was planning everything myself. And I hope that this trip is only the start of my future adventures across the world.

Danijela Smiljanic

 

Carpe diem

Life is a great, big, incredible journey... Every day, every second of it, we are stepping forward on this unique and unknown road. Every move, every step we take is important, unrepeatable, priceless, so we need to enjoy every second that’s given to us.

I am a person of adventurous spirit, not afraid of the distance that I'll have to take, looking forward to something unknown, new experiences that may change us. Because of it, very grateful for this unique opportunity to travel around European counters, I packed my suitcase with hopes, dreams, great expectations, without thinking about bad things that could happen...and of course clothes and other necessary stuff.

Our first destination was Berlin; we got the chance to see the capital of Germany. Our hosts were very kind, friendly, opened up for discussion with us about anything, and to show us around. After that we headed to Rotterdam and Amsterdam, than we experienced the pleasure of Belgium- Antwerp and famous Bruges, the prominent World Heritage Site of UNESCO. I was dazzled by the specific architecture, beautiful canals, romantic atmosphere... Tasting the famous Belgian chocolate, we ran into milonga-tango party on one of the squares... pleasures for all the senses.

After Paris, many strong expressions, a lot of rain and cloudy weather, we were looking forward to sunny Spain. We reserved our tickets to Irun, so we haven't decided where to go, Madrid or Barcelona. We enjoyed the ride into French TGV train, that achieves a speed of 300 km / h. Impressive, I haven't experienced nothing like it, such high speed, but the ride was surprisingly quiet. After such a pleasant time, observing the beautiful landscapes of France, we arrived at the train station in Irun. A worker at the railway approached us; since he saw us looking a little bit lost and asked where we wanted to go. I answered Madrid, because of my strong desire to visit it. He said that our train is leaving in a few minutes, shouted: "Apúrate! Apúrate...!" We were running through the train station it, caring backpacks, dragging suitcase... But we made it! We didn't have time to think what should we do, or was it a god decision. It turned out that the best things happen unexpectedly.

My favorite and the most beautiful part of all this journey (odyssey) was Madrid. It has fulfilled all my expectations and more...  Madrid is a city with a special energy; it's a city where you feel alive. It's fun, exciting... Constantly being on our feat, we discovered its beauty. Starting from Plaza de St. Ana, through Puerta del Sol (Gate of the Sun) to Plaza Mayor- the central city square, famous by a bronze statue of King Philip III and the painted façades of the Casa de la Panadería. A little further, we got to Palacio Real- official residence of the Spanish Royal Family. I was impressed by its magnitude and magnificent architecture. We extended to Placa de Oriente, Jardines de Sabatini, Plaza de Espana, where we saw the Cervantes monument with a bronze sculptures of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, monument to one of my favorite novels. Something that was very interesting for me was Temple de Debod, an ancient Egyptian temple  devoted to the cult of the gods Amun and Isis. Temple was dismantled and rebuilt in Madrid and surprisingly it was a gift from Egypt. From that place I admired stunning view on the whole Madrid. It was a long walk back, to reach reputed Museo del Prado. Although we had to stand in a huge line, our effort paid off with enjoying and admiring to famous masterpieces of Goya, VelázquezEl Greco,  Rubens... Relaxing and watching sunset from Parque de El Retiro, refraction of golden sun rays on the surface of the lake, one of the peaceful and breathtaking moments. At the end we experienced Madrid's night life, hanging out with our new friends, listening to Spanish music... until the early morning hours.

We didn’t know how much our journey would last, so we needed to use every second we were given, enjoying every step we took, finding beauty in unexpected places... Carpe diem!

Danijela Vukić

 

National and/or European identity

Historic referendum in Great Britain has awoken the old doubts in (un)ability of project of EU to succeed and has reopened the dilemma over whether to go for greater integrations or to go back to "westphalian model" of established state borders and the national sovereignty. Even though this model seems to be outdated due to the increasing European and world’s interdependence, eurosceptics are still suspicious of EU project as a system which oscillates between a state and a federation. Besides the lines drawn in the atlas, which represent borders of the states, nations of Europe are also separated by cultural, economical and political differences.

Among the cultural factors that contribute to, or defy European integration, as the most important appears the existence of strong national identities that pose a threat to the so-called "European identity". What is European identity: what it is based on and does it stand against the national one?

The question of European identity is bound to values ​​on which to base it - If we were to question European identity we should go back to the values it is based on. National identity is shaped throughout history as loyalty to a nation - state. It is seen as a collective identity shared by people of a certain country and as such is based on national traditions, a common language, history, customs, symbols etc. Every nation has its own unique identity, which separates it from the others. With the creation of the European Union a number of different nations have been unified. Thus began the process of creating a specific European, common identity - specific identity common to all Europeans. Zoran Krstic, a professor at the Faculty of Political Sciences, defines European identity as a form of supranational identity that represents ,,a sense of community with other states and nations on the European continent, or as a feeling of belonging to the same civilized (values ​​and culture) circle, which is today, among others, materialized with the inclusion of their own country (polity) in the European Union". In fact, an integral part of building - creating a European identity is the discovery of a "common" (shared values) among the different countries in order to strengthen the feeling of belonging to the European community without the cancellation of cultural, national and regional differences.

Therefore, the fact that EU is based on the values such as rule of law, and it nourishes human rights and democracy, including tolerance, respect and understanding in its identity, leads us to conclusion that the European Union does not jeopardize national values. However, it seems that the values on which it was based are too "general", that means they lack historical rootedness, but even more they need a characteristic "emotion" that distinguishes the nation. Due to this fact "European identity" has not still been developed.

European citizens see themselves primarily through smaller communities they belong to; thereupon Spaniards will declare themselves as Catholics or Spaniards, while the idea of them declaring as Europeans is still far away. Even though this cannot be seen as a regularity, the impression is that citizens identify themselves first with local, and then national elements, and that they do not think about the idea of declaring themselves as "Europeans".

Likewise, it seems that these identities are based on various sorts of identifications, that is ethical and cultural elements are the most important for a nation, while the European identity is full of instrumental factors. In other words, countries’ turning to European identity will often depend on their economical situation.

As it seems, the European citizenship is still not created and such a process will probably last for a long time. However, since youth is able to recognize the values of EU, there is still hope that the future of the project of “Europeans” will be brighter.

Dragana Bozovic

 

Clown in Europe

All the people are in essence big children who are missing the smile, the game, the song and everyone sometimes wants to be a child,  not to meet with the problems and to compensate something he missed in the childhood.”

I am so lucky that I had a chance to work as an animator on birthday parties and celebrations for children. When I was packing for my trip around Europe, one thing I was sure I will bring with me was my clown costume. I had no idea about the way I would use it, or when and where, but I was sure that I would find a way to use it. After Germany, Netherlands, France, I met with the rest of my team in Barcelona, Spain. We were staying with my friend from childhood. He works in a kindergarten. What a coincidence! Or is it destiny? When I told her about my clown costume I had with me, she had an idea about making a performance for the children in the park near the kindergarten.

I’ve felt a strange tremor, probably because it was the first time I was working in a foreign country and in an unknown place. I knew Spanish from watching TV shows and even though I don’t know it as well, I didn’t worry about children understanding me because they speak the most important language, the language of love. The understood me because during my performance I sent the positive energy and love.  Children were smiling and were very happy, during the whole performance. I met them all and they introduced me with their lovely Spanish names. They sang songs in Spanish, showed me the games they play. I tried to teach them some Serbian words, but unsuccessfully. Not all children were the same age, so there were different age groups. Some of them knew English, but wanted to talk only in Spanish, so I had to do my best and I was surprised how good I was at it. At the very end I painted their faces with the face colors, which exceptionally made them happy. They had different wishes, so some of them wanted to be painted as flowers, some as butterflies, cowboys, Spiderman, zombies, etc.. Two hours with them went by so fast. Another great thing was that my fellows on the trip saw the performance too, so they had a chance to see another part of my personality. I am most certain that I will remember this event for the rest of my life.

Enes Sijaric

 

Europe has a very rich and diverse history that not only shaped our present, but can teach us much about where and how to lead our future. Europeans realized this long time ago and they did not only collect and learn from their own history, but from history of other civilizations.

Our first stop was Berlin which has immense and diverse collection of artifacts, some that are subject to legends (e.g. the treasure of Priam). Museums, galleries and exhibitions in Berlin are too numerous to describe them all here, however my personal favourite, by far, was the Pergamon Museum.

The Sumerian exhibition looks at us through 5000 years and it is ever still awe aspiring as it was when first made. Their art, sculptures and whole society were culturally advanced and on the same level as we are today. What is even more interesting are the stories, lives and moralities behind that art. Morality in ancient time seems strange to us just as modern world would seem very strange to them and it teaches us valuable lesson on how to look at things “beyond good and evil”. Today European society is mostly based on equality and democratic values. This would seem very strange to an ancient man who would look on modern men as weak and “herd animals”. They valued strength and competition above all else. This can neatly summarized by the words of Peleus to his son Achilles "Now always be the best, my boy, the bravest, and hold your head up high above the others."

Next city that I visited with rich history was Prague. The city itself and its architecture at every step is absolutely stunning. Besides the traditional touristic sights, there are plenty of less known cultural establishments in the city that are worth visiting. The most impressive from my perspective was the Prague National Gallery exhibit of eastern art that so far I’ve seen only on pictures. The most interesting pieces were the Bactrian statues, where in the 3rd century BC a little known cultural revolution happened: the merging of two conflicting cultures. Ancient Greek and Buddhist art and culture fused and created something unique and isolated. This can provide us a valuable lesson to our modern Europe and society, where despite the extended communication, Internet and increased contact, often we fail to accept other cultures, let alone integrate them in our own or create a new one.

For the rest of the trip I toured Slovakia, a country with rich history and castles straight out of fairytales. The huge castles of Trencin, Bojnice and Spisske Podhradie (pic on the left) are filled with legends and folklore of medieval times. The most favourite part of my journey was two days in one of the most beautiful national parks in the world, the Slovensky raj. In midst of innumerable waterfalls, rivers, canyons, ancient trees lies a 13th century castle and monastery that was built during the Mongol invasion of Europe. Today these events may seem trivial however they were the ones that fundamentally shaped the todays world.

My original intent on this trip was to see some of the history that I so read and heard about so far only in books, however unexpectedly I’ve also gained and learned something of equal importance. I’ve made friends with a lot of different and exceedingly interesting individuals. Thanks to them I’ve learned a lot and not once felt bored during the trip. In Berlin on our hosts workshops I was surprised how well organized, developed and advanced were the different local community groups, the plethora of programs that they offered. The scale of the various activism and community cooperation is astounding. For the past two years I’ve taught chemistry in a program where elementary school children could get tutoring for free. In Serbia the local activist groups are not funded and public awareness is low. Activists in Germany showed how things should be and I’ve certainly learned a lot about expanding different activities.

On our preliminary meeting a participant from last year said something that at the time it seemed odd, that after this trip we will be adults, Interrailing is like a rite of passage. This I learned to be true. While I didn’t come back much wiser, however I came back much more self confident and experienced(?).

During the trip I was surprisingly resourceful and proved that I’m able to easily overcome various difficulties. This trip certainly increased my love for trains (there is something simply romantic about them) and inspired me to take more travels and tours of various countries.

My best regards and a big THANK YOU, Ferenc Martinovic

 

Romantic Nationalism

Nowadays the word “nationalism” is usually understood within a negative connotation, as something the modern society should try to exclude from itself in order to strengthen the connections on a global level. Nevertheless I believe these are the consequences to a misinterpretation of the idea itself. The roots of this misinterpretation lie in the romantic era, its characteristics and the historic events which took place at that time.

The idea of a nation was conceived, at least speaking in terms of a sentiment among the plebs, in the period of economic growth and industrial revolution pertaining to early 19th century England. The consciousness of representing a part of a wider entity grew as the collaboration between numerous parts of the country started to develop, overshadowing the medieval merchant-relations. A few decades later the same thought of fraternizing amongst people on a pan-regional basis could be found in the moto of the French revolution “Liberté, égalité, fraternité”. Likewise during the 19th century nationalism was overflowing Europe, helping to establish the fundament of modern European countries. One could say that on this basis nationalism was an interior mater, regarding the genesis of modern citizens and that it didn’t have a hostile sting to it, at least not to other nationalities.

On the other hand a great deal of European countries had to fight neighbourlands or even their enslavers to achieve unity and freedom, among them some which would play a major role in designing Europe’s future not only geo-politicly but also in terms of dominant ideology views. The heritage they took from the time of their national birth was an aggressive form of patriotism, aiming to prove one nations superiority to an another based on nothing but thin air. This “competitiveness” shouldn’t be too hard to grasp, having in mind that one’s rising clearly meant the defeat of others and was achieved at their expense. Moreover, the reigning era of romanticism did have a tremendous impact on the way people think and shaped the minds of thousands of leaders yet to come. Rationalism and clear reasoning weren’t things the romantic era was famous for, so bearing that in mind one could  understand how irrationalism, sentimentalism and demonic folklore influenced the national thought at its origin, paving the way for fascism and national-socialism of the 20th century.

In conclusion I’m convinced nationalism is just an another profound idea gone sideways while being shifted from a thought to a real life phenomenon and just as many others it could find to its true purpose and greatness in a millennium in which the era of enlightenment has permanently ennobled the mind and spirit of the common people.

Filip Zivic

 

Before the beginning of this adventure, I was very afraid about how I will handle this trip, because I've never been alone for so long in foreign countries. Then on the first meeting I realized that all participants had the same fears. After that I decided to go with the flow. The first thing that I want to point out is that I traveled with six great people, who are now my friends, and that because of this trip we have the felling like we have known each other for whole life.

I was very excited about all the things that I was going to see. About most of them I have learnt throughout the four-year study of Art History. The first shock was in Berlin, when I visited Jewish museum. The architect of the building is Daniel Libeskind. I was always fascinated by architecture of this museum. I literally got Stendhal syndrome when I entered The Holocaust Tower. This is high and dark room, with one small source of light on the top, symbolically suggesting hope among Jews who were imprisoned in the camp. You could hear voices from outside and there are ladders that you can’t reach, so metaphorically, there isn't/wasn't the way out, or to put it this way - death was the only exit. In the second room, the floor is filled with iron sculptures in the shape of different size faces with facial expressions of crying and screaming. While you walk through this room, you can hear the sound of iron faces that is representing the screams of victims in Nazi camps. This was an amazing experience! On the other hand, I was disappointed with the permanent exhibition in the museum. In Berlin, I also visited Museum of Modern Art - Berlinische Galerie, where I saw some famous pieces of art from famous artists like El Lissitzky, Pevsner, Tatlin, and others.

I could write dozen of pages with impressions about every city that we visited, because there are many beautiful old and new buildings, different museums, interesting people and cultural habits. There is an evident difference between every country that we visited, and we went to Germany, Netherlands, France, Spain and Austria.

I like Spain the most among all countries and Valencia among all cities we’ve seen in Spain. Valencia is very old city, with interesting history which dates from the time of the Roman Empire. It is a great mix of Orient and Occident, because of the Muslims that ruled in the Middle Ages and Christians that ruled after them. Narrow streets framed with interesting facades, contrast between sunlight and shadow and vivid ceramic tiles that you can find everywhere give a special spirit to the city, and at the same time encourage opposite feelings of happiness, joy, melancholy, nostalgia, and so on. Here you have impressive old core of the city, new parts with modern architecture, the longest park in Spain, you have beautiful beach and sea, and night falls around half past 9 in the evening! Valencia left the biggest impression on me, and I would like to visit it again someday.

 

Jana Gligorijevic

 

Berlin’s concept of neighborhood

Our journey Travel to Europe, unfortunately, concluded few weeks ago, our impressions are still summarizing and there's a lot of things I would like to share with you, but I need to emphasize one, so this brief story will be about an interesting concept of Berlin’s neighborhood, which we had a chance to explore with our guides, namely, Local heroes, how they call them there.

In Berlin we had a  great opportunity to discover a new power of social cohesion which can be solution of many social problems in the countries of Western Balcans.

The principal idea is that every one can take responsibility for the common good, and in that way improve their own life conditions. The concept of social cohesion brings many projects that promote open and inclusive society in which all people have the opportunity to participate in daily activities despite of their social, ethnic, or cultural background.

During our stay in Berlin my group walked with Elisabeth, a young volunteer, who showed us one part of Berlin, Moabit, in district Mitte, and the focus of our tour wasn’t regular tourist attractions. It was familiarizing with the neighborhood. The first impression was truly positive while we were visiting important parts of this neighborhood. It was quite exciting to listen local residents telling us about their manners of solving different types of social questions in the way that each person is actively taking a part of improving life conditions of their community. Those questions concern from arranging the environment to organizing spare time of children in day care center managed by mothers from the neighborhood. The pleasant athmosphere and the feeling of unity are present in every step, which brought to us completely different point of view of Berlin and German society. This kind of organization based on a model of a family could be the key of many social questions we are confronting today in our region and it would be interesting to observe how society would react on that kind of proposal of organization that comes from Western Europe. This type of journey shows us that we definitely have to learn a lot from European society and it was very inspiring sharing experiences and thoughts with our hosts, for what we are very thankful.

 Jelena Janković

 

LET THE JOURNEY BEGIN

“Let the journey begin”, something was screaming in my mind before the train finally left the train station in Belgrade . Excellent beginning of new approach of students’ lifestyle and chance to travel around, you would think. I completely agree.

First stop Berlin. First cultural shock.First opportunity to make comparison and notice architectural differences and on the other hand some ordinary routines of German people.Apart of these, I was suddenly surrounded with at least 80 completely unknown people from Eastern Balkan countries who I’ve been really eager to meet. Moreover, could you imagine my enthusiasm that was even bigger thanks to my new upcoming internship in Berlin? I felt completely fitted into the surrounding. We exchanged our opinions and had a plenty of well spent time together. All of us were cheerful and grateful for everything we would be able to try and experience in the next 22 days of our euro trips.

I must admit I was really impressed with the way of behaving of youth in Berlin and their relaxed mood and the will to help strangers in trouble. Although I am not an expert in Art History, I managed to realize how different influences in architecture were in different parts of Berlin showing the turbulent history of Second Word War. My thoughts were occupied with huge buildings like Reichstag building and museums located in the museum island. My childhood dream to see all the statues of Greek gods at one place came to life when I visited Altes Museum. There were perfectly packed all the weight of Greek mythology.

After all, all my conclusion is that everything in Berlin was just perfect almost like my expectations were.

Also, it was definitely a smart idea to visit Potsdam, during our stay in Germany.Furthermore, as a molecular biology student I was absolutely obsessed with BotanischerGarten I’ve visited in Potsdam and the largeness of green surface and parks there. I must mention that I had opportunity to see a lot of rare species being exposed in Naturkundemuseum there.

In the end I need to point out that the importance of my euro trip,that continued through Netherlands, Belgium, France, Spain, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary is not only based on what I’ve seen there and what impressed me the most but on the people I’ve been going with through all these.????? Our brain is programmed to make long term memories of people in some place and after completing this trip I could only be thankful for making new friendships that will always return me back to reminiscences of this one lifetime event.

Jelena Mišić, Serbia

 

How the people I met on my trip changed the way I see things around me

When I found out that I got an Interrail ticket, I knew that I would meet great people and see many things during my trip, but I didn’t imagine that it would be an adventure of my life and that it would change my mind about lot of things around me forever.

Me and six more people who had the same destination as me continued travelling from Germany to other countries, Netherlands, France, Spain and Austria. Even though all of us were so different, we were getting along very well, and I learned a lot of things talking to each other. We got to know each other very well by talking about our way of life, our habits, friends and family and studies. But I didn’t know that it was just the beginning of my learning.

We changed a lot of hostels and trains, and in each of them we met someone from another country, from Portugal, Sweden, Russia, France or Italy, and even though we have never been in some of those countries, I learned a lot about them. So when I talked to the strangers I had in front of my eyes the sand beaches of Portugal, the night life in Sweden, the beauties of snowy Moscow, and student life in Italy. We tried to understand the cultural differences between the people and we were pretty good at it, and in spite of cultural differences, I realized that all of us had a lot of things in common. No matter where we are from, we are all young people looking for adventures and first of all, improvement of ourselves.

I met a lot of open-minded people who don’t care if they are sleeping in a room with fifty more people or in a great apartment, as long as they are experiencing things they never could see in their own country. We had the opportunity to travel by metro, by train which goes 300 km per hour, to see the advantages of open frontiers in the European Union and feel the liberty to travel.

It was so interesting for me to hear about life of a waiter in Paris, to talk with him about his life in France, about his habits and his way of life, but also to speak with a French truck driver who told me that Paris isn’t the most beautiful city we can see in France and that there are many more things to experience there. I will always have that in my mind when I go to France. We had also a cultural exchange with girl from Honduras, and the first thing that reminded us of that part of the world were ‘telenovelas’ which were very popular in Serbia back then and which helped us to understand Spanish people who weren’t so good in English.

I realized that there is no much difference between young people from Europe, we all had similar sense of humor and habits, but it was impossible not to notice that young people from western Europe have more possibilities to travel and take the advantage of it.

I hope that, in the future, people from Serbia will have more possibilities to travel, because I think it’s the best way to learn, to advance and a great opportunity to find yourself.

 

Jovana Cubic

 

Art and museums

I study at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Belgrade so I am very glad that I got the opportunity to visit museums in Europe and see the paintings of my favourite artists. I visited the Van Gogh museum, the Piccasso museum and the Salvador Dali museum and a lot of national galleries and the Jewish museum too. I liked the Picasso museum the most because I saw what he had been painting from when he was very young to his old works. I saw paintings that he had done when he was 15 and I realised why he was actually a genius. I questioned myself if I or anyone else should continue to paint because none of us have the talent that Picasso had. This museum brought me a lot of inspiration, hope and a lot of anxiety, too. I enjoyed the Van Gogh museum too, but I liked the permanent exhibition more than the temporary one. The temporary exhibition was about his illness and its connection to his work. People think that it is exotic to connect art and illness, and they romanticise Van Gogh’s life.  Now the museum earns money because they commercialise his illness and they participate in building stereotypes about artists, everyone thinks that artists are crazy with addictive personalities, but society builds that image and the problems are more complex than we think. I saw many diagnoses there but I think that he was very sensitive and emphatic, but not crazy. I liked the Jewish museum and I felt that the German people had accepted their past and moved on, which is not case with ex-Yugoslavian countries, we run away from things that we did during the 90s and someone else is always guilty, but it’s never us. And if we want to save our tradition and culture, we should throw away nationalism and finally open the museum of Contemporary art and National museum in Belgrade, because they have been closed for a long time.

Jovana Mitrovic

 

Urban culture of European cities

“By its nature, the metropolis provides what otherwise could be given only by traveling; namely, the strange.” ― Jane Jacobs

Most of us spend our lives walking through places and cities, while commuting to work or just casually roaming through our own neighborhoods and streets, not actually paying attention to the urban life of our own hometowns.  We simply take it for granted. But when we visit a foreign country we suddenly become more alert of the strange and vivid places we come across with. Therefore, I’ve wanted to use the opportunity of my journey to observe and compare the urban culture in some of the Europe’s most famous cities.

My journey started in Berlin, the capital of Germany and one of the largest cities I’ve ever visited. I’ll have to admit, being simply a tourist with not much time to spare, I took a typical route through the city, visiting popular places, sightseeing and enjoying myself with no previous expectations of any kind. Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised with the numerous cultural institutions. No wonder why Berlin is considered a world city of culture and creative industry. The street life was alive and diverse with so many places to explore scattered all over the city. On the other side, there was a sense of formality and strictness everywhere, in everyday encounters and even architecture. I left with the impression of Berlin as a representation of power, structure and organization ??? Stereotypical, eh?

On the contrary, Amsterdam was a totally different story with its tall but thin buildings (kind of like Dutchmen, isn’t it?), permeated with canals and narrow, crowded streets filled with various coffee shops, boutiques and an excessive amount of jolly tourists. Oh yeah, let’s not forget about bicycles. Lots of bikes. Being a considerably smaller city, most of the city “action” was located in the city centre which makes it a bit easier to get by on foot. There was a sense of liberty, leisure and guilty pleasures luring in every corner.

As for Paris, if you are now portraying some romanticized image of this city, I’ll have to disappoint you - Paris these days is far from that. Perhaps because of the troubles France is going through, Paris felt bleak and insecure. With intensive migrations Europe is facing, there is a rise of xenophobia, discrimination, riots and violence that comes with it. Most of us have friends of different ethnical, religious or cultural background and generally have no problem with it, yet, the fear of strangers/migrants is very much real and intense. The stranger becomes the enemy when you deprive him of his individuality and fear is being used as an explanation and justification of violence. This is what, not just France but Europe, is dealing with. However, it’s not something we should dwell on but rather feel compassionate about.

Regardless of these troubles, amazing architecture, rich historical heritage, various performing arts, diverse culture, luxurious and wide boulevards and bright city lights gave a different impression at moments, an impression of a glorious city that Paris is and made this trip definitely worthwhile.

Jovana Pasuljević Kandić

 

Impressions from Prague

On this trip I visited many countries which are most differ in nature, architecture and cultural heritage. I have seen many beautiful landscapes and cities and had a great experience with people.  My strongest impression is that people are the same everywhere even if they speak a different languages and have a different  lifestyles, so I have never felt like a stranger. It was really nice.

Of all cities I have seen, Prague is special because of its beauty and culture of the people who live there. Prague is a cultural center with many concerts, exhibitions, performances and others. There are a lot of concerts of classical music which are performed in larger churches. The city has numerous churches and synagogues and several castles of which is the largest Prague castle with St. Vitus cathedral. The streets in Old town are narrow, paved with cobblestone  and facades of buildings are made in different architectural styles so together  they  look like part of a big castle. At the Charles Bridge and the Prague Castle there are people who play some old instruments which they have made. Some produce sounds like an accordion. Also, there are many beautiful  parks with lot of flowers. Town is very clean and quiet although there are many people on the streets. I visited Strahov monastery which is very old and is located in a beautiful environment, on Petrin hill. There I had a chance to try an excellent beer. A long time ago on this hill was dug stone from which many buildings in Prague were built. Now there are parks and an orchard with pears and plums. In this orchard  was a wedding which is why the trees were decorated with red and pink flowers and with a small, white bottles The whole scene was magnificent. The best view on Prague is from Petrin hill. This is my favorite place in Prague. 

I am sure that I will come back to this city and enjoy its beauty.

I went to Prague from Berlin alone so it was a new challenge for me to travel alone. But everything went all right and like the rest of the trip that I continued with a group of colleagues, this was a great experience and I learned a lot and saw more than I expected.

 

 

Jovana Vukosavljevic

 

Funny habits about celebrating New Year’s Eve

One of the main tasks, which I set to myself before I started traveling, was to get in touch with other European cultures and habits as well as to find out diversities between people in my country and citizens of European Union. Throughout my entire trip across Europe, no matter what city I have visited, I liked to go on walking tours through the city. It proved to be an excellent way of making contacts with people from all over the world, not only European countries. On the other side, I wanted to find a few ideas where I can potentially go for the next New Year’s Eve. Consequently, I found out some funny habits, which people have in this special night.

For example, in some part of Germany, metal (typically lead or tin) is melted and poured into a bucket of cold water. By believing, shape of solidified metal, which is formed by this way, can be connected with a fate for the forthcoming year. Bubbly surface refers to money, whereas a fragile or broken shape means misfortune. Also, ships refer to travelling and a horse to a new car. However, in the most cases, shape does not indicate anything.

In southern part of Italy locals throw old furniture, pots, pans and clothes through the window. This is meant to symbolize “letting go” of past unhappiness to prepare yourself for the future. Although most Italians have abandoned the tradition, one should reconsider decision to celebrate New Year’s Eve on the streets of Naples.

In Spain, the tradition is to eat a grape with each bell strike at midnight of December 31. By believes, that leads to a year of prosperity and in some areas it wards away witches and general evil. There are two main places where people gather to take the grapes: with family after the dinner and in the main squares around the country. Puerta del Sol in Madrid is the most famous place and from here the change of year is always broadcasted.

So, if you’re not only interested in eating, drinking and sharing love, go to Germany or Spain. And if you’re a brave enough visit a city of Naples.

Kristina Stevanovic

 

After the 22 days of mind-blowing adventures I'm back in my hometown Užice. And now it's time to share my experience and most interesting parts of the journey with you.

I went on this trip, not having prepared any itinerary, plan. I didn't even know with who I’m going to travel. But it didn't bother me so much. Because every time when I am planning something, things go wrong and now I decided just to go with the flow.

Our first stop was Berlin, a cosmopolitan urban city with a lot interesting things to see and experience. It is a big mix of cultures, subcultures, nations and there is something for everyone in this town. I really liked the double-deck bridge Oberbaum over the river Spree that connects district Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain. Distric Friedrichshain is full of young people, artists, wall paintings, bars, and restaurants. I already imagined myself living there. In Berlin we see all the major sights like Brandenburg gate, Berlin wall, Reichstag, Berlin TV tower, Charlottenburg Palace, Museum Island and many more.

After the Berlin our next stop was Amsterdam, and we slept in Rotterdam because we heard it's better to find cheap accommodation here.

But at the end, we used couch surfing. For me that was maybe one of the best things I did on this trip. Our host Hans was 52 years old teacher who greeted us on the station. I didn't know what to expect from Hans and his home. When we arrived at the house, there was already 15 or more people, other surfers. Floor in our room was covered with mattresses. 8 of us slept in one tiny room. In other rooms, was same situation; I must admit that I didn't expect that, but after an hour, two I adapted. It was fun, we have great time there. I met other students-backpackers from Argentina, Mexico, Columbia, Belgium, Russia, China, North Ireland. Hans was really great host, kind, generous. A real altruist, who greeted more than 600 people in his home. He gave us his bicycles and my friend Goca and I decided to see the city at night by bikes. After crazy time in Amsterdam and Rotterdam we went to Paris. We spent two days there in really notorious part of city called Barbes. We didn't know that, but when we came in our room we have visitors, bugs! It was awful, but we survived the bugs and the  Barbes.  When you are in good company, everything is easier. From Paris we went to Barcelona by TGV train. I was surprised by cleanliness, speed, and comfort of the trains. Nothing like ours. In Barcelona I enjoyed just walking and wandering through streets, parks ,watching performances of street artists and observing historical buildings. Then my friends went to Madrid, and I reserved a train seat to Geneve, Switzerland and met up with my friend from trip, Nevena. We wanted to spend few days in Lausanne at my uncle's house. There is no other way visiting one of the most expensive country unless you have relatives there :) When I say Switzerland my first association is  chocolate, cheese, pocket knives, watches, Alps. Next 3 days were memorable! Scenery was breathtaking, especially one day when we were passing through magnificent Lavaux vineyards. It was a perfect day!  And I will finish my essay with the vineyards. This trip really, but really changed my way of thinking, I learned to live in the moment and  I realized there is no problem to book a hostel room, reserve a train seat, use metro or to travel with people you didn't know before. It is way more interesting and adventurous then using travel agents. I became more independent and confident and I want to thank you again for giving me this amazing opportunity! Thank you for all! 

Ksristina Vasiljevic

 

Europeans

In the center of Novi Sad, the second largest city in Serbia, in my small apartment I was packing for my big trip through Europe. Two nervous break downs and there cups of tea later, I finally managed to put all of my stuff in a suitcase. I was very happy that one of my best friends from college also got this amazing opportunity and we went together to Belgrade to get our Interrail tickets and hit the road!

Our first stop was Berlin and it exceeded my expectations. If I had to describe Berlin in one word it would be: powerful. As you walk down Unter den Linden you realize the mentality, the strength and critical thinking which made Germany one of the most powerful countries in the world only 50 years after losing WWII. We had a great program made by Bosch foundation and other organizations where we had a chance to discuss the European Union and relations on the Balkans. One of the most memorable moments was at the Brandenburg gate when my friend and I were in a hurry to buy coffee at Starbucks and just as we arrived and pulled the door someone locked it from the inside. There were closed. Disappointed, we slowly went to buy a water bottle and sit on a bench. Then we heard a great song on the radio and started singing. The owner of the store, where the music was coming from, heard us and increased the volume so we all sang together. It was truly magical, the sunset, Brandenburg gate and that awesome German singing and laughing with us. It made me feel almost like at home, like we all belonged together even though we were from completely different countries.

After a wild train ride which lasted almost 13 hours, we came to Amsterdam. It was like entering a new world, we rode bicycles, visited Van Gogh’s museum, tried diamonds at the Diamond museum, strove around Red light district and walked for days through this beautiful city. Exhausted, we set down in front of I AMSTERDAM letters and then I realized. We were just young girls chilling on the grass next to the Dutch, German all other young people doing the same. We belonged here as well. It felt nice. It was so much different from Germany or Serbia, but it felt the same.

Since we became experienced with trains, we came to Brussels with no real problem. While in Belgium, we took a day to see beautiful Brugges and try their chocolate. We needed a day more in Belgium but since it was raining we decided to hed off to Paris where we would spend an extra day.

“Bonjour Paris!” was the first thing we shouted out loud when we saw the Eiffel tower. Our room in the hostel was beautiful with a French balcony so we decided: this is where our journey will end. But not before we visit Versailles, Museum Louvre, the new part of Paris, and not before we try both Laduree and Pierre Herme macaroons to decide which we like better. One day was left for Disneyland! We had so much fun, running around and going on amazing rides all day long. The closing show at Disneyland was spectacular. Peter Pan toss fairy dust on all of us, Cinderella became a princess and I felt like my childhood ended that night. It was time to go back home where I will be graduating in less than a month and starting to work. I felt sad but at the same time so motivated because I had the chance to travel, to see Europe and live it. I felt like my four years of studying law and being one of the best in my class brought me here, to Paris, to watch this amazing show at Disneyland and to travel for 16 days straight.

I realized that this trip showed me that no matter how different our countries are or how our culture norms differ, we are all Europeans.

I am very thankful for this experience because now I understand better, I feel that there are no real borders for people as long as we share the same values, dreams and goals.

We are all Europeans.

Kristina Vojvodic

 

My dream of travelling, it became true

Ever since I was a little girl I dreamed about travelling. I have always wondered what it would be like to speak another language, to grow up learning different customs or to live in a completely different way than I do now. Month ago my dream finally came true. I got to travel in Germany, Switzerland and Slovenia. Suddenly the Europe was at my fingertips.

There is only one word to describe Switzerland and Germany and that’s beautiful. Quite the contrary to what I expected, both countries turned out to be extremely clean. I extended my stay in Germany because my wish was to see the most I can in Berlin and other cities in a short time. In reality, dinosaurs are not to be found in Berlin’s streets, but at the Natural History museum. I went there and was amazed.

Next, I proceeded to Mannheim and Heidelberg to see my old friend. We were at the Heidelberg University, one of the most popular university in the world and one of the possible part of which I want to be. Than, one very important place that I saw, Heidelberg Castle, most famous landmarks of Europe. Even the majestic ruins, overgrown with ivy, still reflect the power of magnificence. The most attractive part of Heidelberg Castle is the world’s largest wine cask where you can’t make a turn to take photo.

After the fabulous days in Germany, I arrived in Switzerland. Basel and Zurich, cities which I wanted to visit, left a strong impression. Also, totally unexpected the small town Wallenstadt was one of the beautiful places I visited during my trip. In Wallenstadt I had opportunity to visit local fair, meet people from inside of countries, listen traditional music and drink wine from their own vineyards.

Consideration I always travelled at night, after long 9 hours in train, I arrived in Ljubljana, in the town where I felt like I was at home.

In conclusion I will say that travelling can improve understanding of the world and give wonderful experiences which I will never forget. To be honest, travel definitely can broaden mind and horizon, it happened to me.

Marijana Pavlovic

 

Welcome To Europe!  (Scorpions - Wind of Change)

Welcome to Europe, Europe which we cannot, unfortunately, compare with last year’s one. Restlessness and insecurity are more present after the terrorist attacks when many nations are affected, usage of biological weapons and migrant crises that isn’t slowing down. How to suppress misgiving and get into lifetime adventure travel Europe by train? How to discover a way of life, customs, and mentality of nations? Conversely, how to be gladdened with so many tourists when someone can potentially be a threat to safety? What’s the real picture of Europe without fear? Where fear stops and lets freedom makes us alive? In which direction is the evolution of man and his environment going? If we do not tackle with ethical, politician, eugenic, and other types of problems, can we judge of human personalities measured by social standards, where is the line for good/bad characteristics? Only as sure as we need to tolerate differences between people and remember that common for all of us is our emotional side (like love and being loved, sadness etc.) regardless ethnicity and religion. Break down stereotypes! Everyone smiles in the same language, smiling is universal language, multicultural! Little thing can brightens up your day you can feel that warmth of the smile that uplifts you. Make Europe perfect place for living, where we all are with same rights but still different, find your balance with nature. In what moment we become so anthropocentric? Changing world we are also changing ourselves, it’s by us how we will use previous knowledge, with hope we are going in right direction. But I’m very optimistic for the future. Generally, I got impression that Europeans (one nation like Americans, or we need to split up, and discuss about French, Dutch, German people?) are for sure hospitable and convivial people. For me, this trip was my escape from comfort zone, trip into unknown and I’ve really enjoyed exploring, also travel far enough I meet myself. But the most beautiful part of trip was making new friends and forgetting reality for a moment, and make dreams come true!

Very pleased to met you! I look forward to the reunion.

Marina Bekic

 

Technical (energy) view of EU in the eyes tourist 

After a small accident  in train from Belgrade to Budapest we were safe and sound in train to Berlin. Train was different, better, the view was different to. In the countryside we could see small, solar panel plantations or solar panel to house usage. I was shocked. In our country solar energy is a think, something new that doesn't exist.

Ah, Berlin, town of everything.
Metro, train, station, bus, museum, everything new, different. Potsdamis an old town, but still has a modern part.
Windmills are everywhere. Energy is built in every part of the  land. From the train we saw  different factory. Everything looks modern, better.

I regret I didn't have a chance to spend one day in some factory. Something strange in Berlin - pipeline in the street in different colors. I asked why did pipeline was in the street? Answer   was because town need water - for making of buildings, for people.  It looks like interesting  to have a colored  pipeline in the street.
The same situation was in Nederland.

Windmills, modern train station, solar panels, they have free internet everywhere. At the Scheveningen beach we had a great time. We just set and watched  the sea (You can see oil platform in the sea, far from  the coast).
They use bicycle for the public transport. In that way they save energy, cut down air pollution, after all it is cheaper. Belgium was a little different. We used modern metro, saw modern buildings.
Impression about solar energy was here.
Paris, nothing new to say except TZV train.
Trains that have 300km/h speed. I needed only 3 hand 3 min from Paris to Basel. In past 2 months , if somebody told me that, I’d  probably  would laugh. But today.. Why we in Serbia use old trains which have 50km/h speed?
In TZV you have impression like you don't move. If you look through the window you can see how fast it is.
In Swiss I saw yellow crosswalk.  People sad that it looks better in the winter.  Also they said to me how they fly a bit in winter with snow in the street. Maybe we can do this the same.
Swiss  is a modern country whit the best system of protection. Every brige  has explosive inside in case of war.

Here  I learned a lot. At the follow of my traveling I was in Slovenia. This country is like our Serbia,  but Ljubljana is a green capital today.  Green energy is in usage more and more.

At the end I was also in Prague and Budapest.
In Prague I saw technical museum. Museum of staffs from the beginning  of the technical evolution till today.
Maybe it would be one of an idea for our country.
Budapest has museum of geology. I saw minerals which I can't see in our country.
It was a traveling where I learned a lot of new stuff. I brought back to our country with a new idea of  how something could work better.

Mila Stanisavljević

 

The advantages, impressions and benefits of our travelling Europe with the help of the Organization “The European Movement in Serbia”

Since we were lucky enough to be granted with this trip, our aim was to get to know the spirit of European people as well as the historical and cultural sights of the European cities. This would help as to get an overall idea of the city architectures, as well as of the people living there, something about their customs and traditional values. We are not sure that we managed to achieve completely this aim because of the time limits, but we will try to present a part of our impressions about the trip.

At the very beginning our first destination was Berlin, old historical town, with tremendous opportunities, modern architecture and a specific spirit. In a word it is a bland of traditional, modern ideas and typical German accuracy on the other side. We spent five unforgettable days in Berlin, visited Branderburg gate, Reichstag, the remnants of the Berlin wall, Checkpoint Charlie, Postdamer Platz and the famous Friedrich Strasse. We spent a day at Potsdam where the Sans Suci Palace of the Friedrich the Great took our breath away. Between the rush after the subways and long walks in order to view as much as we could, our stay in Berlin was marked by new friendships which will be remembered for the rest of our lives. We were a group of successful and ambitious young people from the whole region, different but having the same aim and enthusiasm to cruise Europe with a map and an Interrail ticket.

After Berlin, following our dreams, we went to Amsterdam. The first day in Amsterdam was the best day of our lives! The picturesque old houses slightly tilted looked like a fairy tale, the kind people speaking excellent English, riding bikes were quite a new experience to us. The dark side of the city is the Red Light District, where prostitution is legal as well as purchasing marihuana, which is a great attraction for tourists. We stayed in Amsterdam for four days and the next two rainy days we spent in Brussels, eating waffles and a day in a cozy little town of Brugge.

The way to Italy was long and strenuous. We changed many trains waiting for hours at the railway stations until we arrived to Milan. We enjoyed Mediterranean climate, the scent of the sea and the first sleepless night spent on the railway station at Verona. We went to Bologna, our destination. We enjoyed the sound of Italian language, the old squares of the city, pizza and swimming all day in Rimini. Hospitality and warmth of the Italians added a special color to our impression about this country. The highlight of this part of the trip is certainly a fabulous and unique Venice. We were roaming its narrow streets crossed with romantic canals with gondolas. St Marco Square, wine, lights in the night and excellent music took our breath away. We returned to Serbia via Zagreb tired but immensely happy.

This trip has certainly changed our lives for better because we got to know many countries, cities, people and ourselves after all. We are now more self confident to go for new trips and new adventures.

The photographs enclosed are witnesses of our enterprise!

Milica Masal & Gordana Jandrić

 

An unexpected journey: EU and back again

It’s not like i was Bilbo Baggins, and that one day Thorin arrived asking me to join him  and the dwarfs on their journey, but the fact that i found out my visa request had been approved only two days before the trip, tells you that it was not 100% expected and  that there was a plausible chance I will not be able to embark on the journey of my lifetime. For that reason i didn’t have much time to decently prepare for this.

I didn’t bring medications, plasters, antiseptics, appropriate footwear and clothing, raincoat etc. Besides,my sense of direction is poor to the point of being ridiculous, and on top of all these things I didn’t know how to use the rail planner app.

Nevertheless, i managed somehow to visit Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Spain and Austria. In Berlin my back hurt me so bad i couldn't walk, so i needed to borrow some painkillers to ease the pain. After that i caught a cold in Amsterdam, had some hideous blisters in Paris, got stung by a jellyfish and sunburned on the beach in Barcelona, in Madrid i had a fever caused by all this, and at the end of our “odyssey” in Vienna i was penniless. Finally i made it home safe and sound, scratch that, i came home alive.

If you ask me how i achieved that, there is a simple answer: I AM UNBREAKABLE. Just kidding.

Now, when i think about it, i realize that i would probably be dead if people i travelled with weren’t really good persons who treated me as a  baby, for what i am really grateful.

Having set up a background, you can now realize in which conditions i tried to find out more about the things written below.

I had entered EU with many questions. Firstly, I wanted to hear opinions of the common people who live in the EU countries about Brexit, Nice massacre, terroristic attack in Munich, migrant crisis, EU sanctions against Russia… I thought that if i had interest for these question, EU citizens will know much more about them, because all these things were/are happening in their own backyard.

What came to me as a shocking revelation is that people in the EU do not bother themselves that much with these questions. It is not like they don’t know about these things, it’s just that they don’t care that much.  But when i asked them about migrant crisis, they were very familiar with that problem, especially in Berlin.

What’s more, I got the impression that common people in the EU do not waste their time thinking and speaking about policy matters, their government, political parties etc. as in my country, and i like that really much. When they are not satisfied with something in their country, for example their government’s policy on migrant crisis, they will go out on the street and protest as long as it takes until they make a change.  Big like for this too.

In my town it is popular to believe that in the EU everything is better, that there is no poverty, no garbage on the streets, no criminals… But they were wrong. The EU is also riddled with problems, but it is still a place that gives you various opportunities you can only dream about in our country.

At the end you must ask yourself was it worth? I have no doubt, it was.

Milica Radovanovic

 

Being a Guest in Western Europe

Before I started my journey through Europe I had tried to put aside all my expectations, previous knowledge and hypothesis I wanted to confirm. That way I would be able get a deeper  comprehension of culture, social situatuation and general awareness of those  in Europe as a whole. Of course, that was impossible. Countries have been shaken by outburst of terrorist attacks, Brexit, protests ( i.e, those in France) and other social unrests. One must ask itself about the impact of these event on people's everyday lives. There's no better way for that than socializing with locals at the sites they usually spend their time.  I had the opportunity to experience multicultural and tremendous Berlin, charming and easygoing Brussels as well as architecturally beuatiful Amsterdam. Beside these cities who left the strongest impression on myself, I have also visited Stuttgart, Heidelberg, Budapest and Dusseldorf. I can say that the dominant feeling about Brexit is confusion and disagreement. And from the many conversations I've  had (with yougsters mostly) my conclusion is that they are aware of disbalance in Europe, the problems EU is not handling well and potential solutions. General attitude is that we must nourish democratic and critical thinking, its implementation and development if we want the European family of nations to continue its tradition. On my journey, I have also noticed that the people are afraid of their  unpredictable future and current social tensions which have triggered many misfortunes. There is a mixture of empathy and distance toward refugees. This depends a lot on cultural and economic diversity of the city, region or state I was in. My opinion is that in the future Europe needs to work on its transparency, collective identity and better cooperation within itself in order to overcome the troubles and face the constantly changing world.

Milos Jankovic

 

  Berlin, Germany Berlin, GermanyThe first country that we visited was Germany, and one of many things that we could certainly take over from it would be their pragmatism - while going through the city, you can’t help yourself but thinking that they thought of everything! I was amused by the how smart the European countries are in using all the space that they have. They don’t have a need to sit in a cafe or on a bench, they are perfectly comfortable sitting on grass in the park, any place on a bridge or a square. It’s a beautiful impression seeing all the different people on such places enjoying different things - reading books, eating and drinking, socializing, using their laptops, etc. And then, you come back to Serbia, buy a drink, sit with your friends on a bench, see all the greenery, and become disappointed. Then, it comes to mind that once you try something, you can’t stop - I made all my friends come sit with me on the grass and enjoy it, regardless of all the people going by and looking us disapprovingly.

I must mention the sentence that we said out loud so often during our trip - “Be careful, a bicycle is coming!” In Berlin, Amsterdam and other European capitals, we came across cyclists who were riding furiously next to us, while we were angrily commenting and wondering why they were crossing our path, when we realized that we were actually crossing theirs, ignoring that they were appropriately marked, but you must understand - in some of our hometowns in Serbia often not having sidewalks, not to speak of bicycle tracks.  It sounds funny, but it’s actually sad when we realize how much we trail other countries in such trivial matters. Can we ever achieve such a culture of traffic? I wouldn’t say it’s unachievable, it’s just necessary to work on ourselves and resist our continual stagnation.

Paris, FranceParis, FranceAmsterdam, NetherlandsAmsterdam, NetherlandsThis trip has showed me that what these countries and their citizens are good at, and Serbia isn’t, is respecting diversity, and that is the main thing that we should acquire from them. You are free to look however you want, hold hands with whomever you want, walk freely without being judged. I began this journey being assured that upon my comeback I would be writing that what other countries could get from us is emotionality, friendliness and hospitality, but now I must say that, during the trip, I haven’t met a single person that would make me think that they lack these characteristics.

I realized that every country is unique, but in spite of that we have a lot in common, and a lot to give to each other. It is necessary to finally become what we are being called - a community. After having spent these beautiful 22 days throughout Europe, I can conclude that they don’t say without a reason that the job fills our pocket, but our travels fill soul.

Miljana Stratijev

 

New challenge, new me

Sometimes we must do some unusual things just to see where we are now, who we are now, where we want to go and what to become. Those unusual things make us stronger and better. I think that this travel did this to me.

In the beginning of the journey I was a little bit scared of whole thing. I wasn’t sure what will really happen, I think nobody was. That was a fear of the unknown, unusual... But exactly in those situations, when you do some things which you never did, you become a better person. Every new experience leaves a mark for your whole life.

What I’m about to say may sound strange to someone, yet this was really important to me. In the end, this experience was beautiful, but it started a bit difficult for me. For the first time I was talking to black people. That is maybe silly, but it was all unfamiliar to me. In some way, I was afraid of them. First contact happened in Rotterdam, in the hostel we stayed at. We were in the kitchen and I really wanted to make something to eat, but I didn’t know how to turn on the cooker. The situation forced me to speak to the only person in the kitchen, who was black. Well, I had to do this. That guy was really kind and showed me how to turn on the cooker and then conversation continued. We talked about Rotterdam and he said to me that in those days in Rotterdam, there was taking place some kind of carnival.  So we changed our plans and visited the carnival. That was another advantage of talking to stranger, besides practicing English and winning the inner fear. ;)

Another interesting thing happened to me in Rotterdam. We stayed in a room with 48 beds. Some people maybe think that the hostel wasn’t much safer than a street, but there we had a kitchen, a bathroom, internet… It was more comfortable in any case, but in the end we realized that it was safe, too.

Unplanned things are often the most interesting and exciting, especially when you do them for the first time in your life, then pleasure is the greatest. Our inter-rail card remained in the apartment where we were staying in Marseille, but that day was perfect for some new unexplored places, we wanted to go somewhere else. So, one of options was to go back in apartment for inter-rail cards or to make up some alternative way. For the first time we tried hitchhiking. We did not think that the option would be so easy and effective. After a few minutes we were in a car and while we were listening music with a great sea view, we had wind in our faces. This ride took us to a beautiful little beach where we enjoyed the day.

However, each of the things that I tried for the first time on the journey made me a person who now knows that can do much more than supposed, which has more self-confidence , which now more than ever wants to explore the world and constantly moves on. This is now the new me.

Mirjana Crnogorac

 

Effort always pays off

What can I say except that the effort has paid off. My adventure began ten days before the departure to Berlin. Unlike most who did not have to apply for a visa, I had to. Since my parents live in Kosovo, I had to go to Pristina to apply for a visa. Honestly for me this was some kind of adventure, because for the first time in more than 18 years ago, I had to go to the south of Kosovska Mitrovica.

Although I lost 7 days on applying and collecting paper for a visa, I can only say it was worth it, because what I was able to experience during these 22 days in Europe, cannot be measured by money nor time. In addition to students from Serbia there were also students from Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Macedonia and Kosovo. It gave me a chance, on neutral ground. To talk with my peers from the region to exchange opinions and to talk about the topics that we cannot influence now, but we may be able in the future. And what is good is that neutral ground was Berlin, a city that has broke down the wall that divided the city. A city that has shown that if you are all united, you can do a lot of good things for everyone. I must tell that Berlin reminded me a bit on Kosovska Mitrovica, because this town river Ibar is the "wall" and divides the city into two parts. I sincerely hope that one day the "wall" in Kosovska Mitrovica would be taken down, too.

In addition to these opportunities for exchange of views of thinking, I got the chance to meet Europe, to see European values, to see how they cope with a migration crisis, as well as fight with terrorist attacks. I got a chance to see that in Germany people recycle almost everything and streets are all clean. Our travel we continued to the Netherlands and we settled in Delft. Beautiful place to live because it's quiet and the people were very friendly. Since we were staying in Delft, going to Amsterdam to us was like a trip to the city from a fairy tale. After the Netherlands, the next destination was Belgium. In Belgium, we visited Brussels and Bruges. Although Brussels is the capital of Europe, I liked Bruges more. In Bruges I had the feeling that I was taken back a few hundred years and I can say that the city is beautiful as well as the chocolate that I tasted. After the Belgium, railways took us to France, Paris. Maybe we were in this country at the wrong time, because of a strike that had employees, but I think we should see both sides of a coin, and so this was an opportunity. What has impressed me in Paris was giant Louvre Museum. For the Louvre you have to spend minimum 4 days to see everything, but we had a shortened version of just 4 hours, because we didn’t have too much time. After 3 full days in Paris, we continued to Barcelona using the fast train and I have to say that this was my first time in my life to be in vehicle that can drive 300 km/h. When we arrived in Spain, the first reaction of all of us was: "Finally the bright sun.". In Spain we visited Barcelona and Madrid, and what I have left as the best impression is how much they appreciate water. I could see that they have collectors for raining water, and collected water is used for watering fields. Although our wishes was to stay in Spain, we could not, because it was already the 19th day of our journey. 20th days we continued to Milan, and we used the day to see the town until the night, and the night we used to travel to Vienna. We visited Vienna, here we spent day and night and in the morning went to Belgrade. I honestly could not wait to get to my bed in Belgrade, because nowhere is good sleep as in your own bed.

I would like to thank the Robert Bosch Foundation for giving me the opportunity to get to know Europe and the knowledge that I have gained about the European Union. I hope that I would be able to use it so that Serbia would be part of the European Union.

Yours sincerely,

Miroslav Milojevic

 

SARAJEVO, TOWN OF RICH HISTORY

There is no other city like Sarajevo. Here is where East meets West, and on the European and Oriental Castle. Known as the "City on the Miljacka", this city is one among the most beautiful and interesting cities in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Countless tourists with its beauty that captivates because it came to peek into this corner of the Balkans. Walking through countless streets and alleys know the beauty and charm of the city and the people of traditional hospitality. Baščaršija spreads the smell of kebabs Sarajevo, unique in the world. Through Baščaršija, famous craft Crescent, passing many streets, alleys and čikme in which there are shops that existed back in the 16th century. Many manufacture manufactories have adapted to tourism and tourists, so that this part of the city is inevitable destination for tourists.

Sarajevo has due to its immense charm, but also a nice position become a capital. Through it flows the river Miljacka, which cover numerous bridges that stretch along the numerous walks suitable for all ages, fans of rest and recreation. Bentbaša is known as a place of rest, which consists of a large esplanade, a swimming pool in the summer.

Ten kilometers downstream, below Mount Igman, there is a famous picnic Spring of Bosnia. Little that after coming to Sarajevo, and that has not visited Vrelo Bosnia with their sources, lawns, landscaped restaurants and hotels. Vrelo Bosnia is one of the largest sources of drinking water in Europe and a natural jewel. Vrelo Bosnia is part of Ilidža, which is known summer resort and spa for body and soul. (Iladž, one tahat cures). Nearby is the Roman bridge, which reminds of the times when Ilidža as a health resort attracted the Roman army. In Ilidža interesting archaeological excavations dating back to the period of 2400 - 2000 BC.

"According to the stories of the Ottomans, Sarajevo was the most beautiful city in the European part of Turkey, after Istanbul. Extremely proud of their independence, this city did not recognize another authority other than the landowners, and did not allow more than two days a year, as a guest. In 1860, Omer Pasha was finally finished, and in 1878 Congress of Berlin was awarded Austria. "

Mladen Tomić

 

My piece of the Earth

Living in a country with low economic status, where life of an average man is very hard, it is hard not to think about moving to another. For someone who grew up in a culture where land is sanctity and family house and parents are something you live your whole life for, you need to understand how hard it is to leave everything behind and go in a search for a better life. In this journey I wanted to understand needs of an average man in a country I visit, and see what his country means to him, what is bonding them to that particular part of the Earth.

Berlin was our first station, and a bit of a shock, because it is very liberal city. Aside differences in style and orientation, difference in life standard is enormous. Talking with couple of students, we realized that they’ve being raised in totally different way, learning to care less for the material stuff and more to what is important to them. Money is important, of course, but they will rather do something that fulfills them then trying to gain private property that would chain them to one place. They are happy with their life, but are ready to go somewhere else if that place offers more for their personal improvement. Speaking about Holland, the only people we met in few little towns we’ve visited were retired people, while seeing a young man was a rarity. We concluded that Holland is a place closest to utopia that we’ve ever seen, and a great place to live your old days in peace, after you spent your youth elsewhere. In Bruges, Belgium, we explored the city outside the city center, full of tourists, and were surprised to see many buildings completely empty, to feel that sad atmosphere. We realized that nowhere is ideally, and that also in developed countries people migrate in search for better life. Then Paris happened, heated atmosphere, people running in a hurry for work. They are dedicated to their work, don’t have much time for social interaction and you can see they are cold, that they lack of warmth and love. But they are happy where they are and they compensate lack of real friends with various journeys. In Switzerland, average man is materially above an average man from anywhere, so he is happy with his life, he works a lot but also travels a lot, and country in which he lives in is a heaven on earth.

I love my country and its natural beauty, but I start to realize that it doesn’t have to offer enough, and I am ambitious person and I need new professional challenges. I still hope situation in my country will change, and if not, maybe I also grow old in Holland, Switzerland or some other country, but for now, goodbye Europe!

Nevena Velicanin

 

Comparative analysis of standard of living and cultures in Europe with emphasis on everyday interaction with the locals

Before I even strike up a monologue about the subject of my essay, I feel obliged to stress that this text will be highly biased given the fact that I am still under the impression that the journey me and my companions have faced is without a doubt one of a kind.

Even though I was able to, more or less, travel across Europe before the 24th of July this year, never have I been in the situation to encounter so many different feelings, relationships, states of mind etc. Beginning our expedition in Berlin was the perfect jumping-off point for what had been awaiting us later on. An incredible mix of cultures that is present on literally every corner in the city, people being highly indifferent to the unconventional and public transport arriving on time represented a huge culture shock for all of us. Yet, in the end, there was nothing left to do but admit that the capital of Germany had actually been the ideal place to adapt to cultural diversity.

Thereafter, our route was as follows: The Netherlands (Rotterdam, Amsterdam), Belgium (Brussels, Bruges), France(Paris), Spain (Barcelona, Madrid),  Switzerland (Zurich), Austria (Vienna) and Hungary (Budapest). Throughout the entire adventure one thing was as clear as day - there is a humongous chasm between the North and the South. This came clearer and clearer to me as we were approaching our last stop and then the comparsion struck me from out of the blue: Living in the northern part of Europe is like lying on a comfortable yogabed mattress covered with a fluffy and warm blanket. On the other hand, living in the southern part of Europe, for example in Spain, is pure hedonism (a sip of wine and outstandig view from the top of Park Güell), even though the standard of living is not as high as in the North.

Moreover, the standard of living hasn’t (yet) affected the attitude people have towards strangers and this is, in my opinion, strongly connected with the mentality of a specific nation or culture. Whilst Germans are more reserved, but accountable, Spaniards are spontaneous, easygoing and not willing to speak English. The same goes for the French, who are, to be completely honest, a little more prepared to communicate in English, but not for a long period of time. Dutch are slightly less reserved than Germans and seem carefree all the time. And then there are Austrians who are very similar to German people, especially the ones who live in Bavaria.

To sum it up, after being able to backpack across Europe and realize that every EU country is a real melting pot, there’s not much else to do, but allow this magnificent experience broaden my horizons and prepare me to take a great leap forward and pave the way for a more thorough research of European cultures and nations.

Nikola Zdravković

 

After traveling through Europe it’s time to sum up the impressions. I’m not sure where to start my little story, because I would like to tell you everything, but it would take. I will try to focus on something that all cities have in common, maps, streets, squares. But, at the same time they are very different. Why I focus on this? Because, maps are one of the most important things during this ways of travel, on the streets I spend most of the time and in every city I saw at least one square.

So, from the beginning, first stop was Berlin. Map of the city that is by far the best. Every street and even the smallest clearly marked. Part of the Berlin where I spent most of my time has spacious streets with plenty of green area which is truly commendable. I really enjoyed. The square which left me the strongest impression is Alexanderplatz. Residents call this square easier, Alex. I saw the famous TV tower and World clock. I didn’t have enough time to go inside the TV tower but I think that the view from the top is amazing. Next stop was Rotterdam. Map of the city was pretty bad, but residents are more than kind. I can tell you, this is a great city, well build and suitable for life. It could be divided into two parts, one part which is urban area with commercial buildings, shopping streets and the other one which is really quiet, with large green area, small lake and Zoo. Definitely my favorite city. Then I was in Amsterdam. Unfortunately, that day there was a huge crowd due to the start of the famous parade of pride. I was able to see the square where are famous letters “I AMsterdam”. The square is special because it surrounded with museums: Rijksmuseum, Moco museum, Van Gogh museum, Diamond museum, Stedelijk museum. After that, I was in Brussels and Bruges. Brussels is quite difficult for myself, the streets are narrow, short, very often I have the impression that I’m going in circles. Also names of the streets are written in two languages so I have trouble with my map. But view from the place Royal is amazing. Bruges, a city that will leave you breathless. You will certainly return back through time. Markt Square is in the heart of the city and it includes 12th-century belfry and the Provincial Court. Real pleasure. Thereafter, I was in Paris. Surprisingly map is very easy to navigate in a city this size. Almost all of the popular places are located along the banks of the Seine. I visited famous Place de la Bastille with the July Column in the center. The square today is often the site of departure of political demonstrations. Upcoming station was Barcelona. During the day the streets are full of tourists. A large number of roundabouts in the map confuse the minds, often I don’t know what street to the right is because I saw at least three. Beside that, a large number of streets filled with green area is really nice. The square with the Columbus monument have been visited a lot. It was constructed in honor to Columbus first voyage to the Americas. From this place you only a few meters away from the sea. My last station was Madrid. The first city that reminded me of our country, you feel welcome. In Madrid you go up and down through the streets, often very small streets but clearly marked. The most beautiful square is España with monument dedicated to Miguel de Cervantes. A large number of benches, greenery, and a small fountain in front of the monument are the right place for relaxation.

After all these beautiful cities it was time to go home. On that way unplanned stop was in small Italian town Ventimiglia. That night I even slept on the beach. Early in the morning I went to the Wien. Unfortunately I didn’t have enough time to explore city, just a mini break.

At the end, I can say that this travel was a really pleasure, filled with plenty of memories supplemented by a large number of photos.

Sanja Markovic

 

Shadows of an Empire, Vienna and Westphalia

In 1648, after thirty years of bloody conflict which bled Europe like never before a treaty was signed in the cities of Münster and Osnabruck. Strict noninterference into the internal politics of sovereign states became the international norm and would pave the way for the emergence of the nation-state. The small states of Europe had achieved their dream of escaping the shackles of the Holy Roman Empire and achieving what we now call sovereignty.

The house of Habsburg dreamt another dream, a dream of a united Europe. Charles V was the closest to this goal, but religious conflicts within the Empire prevented the formation of European a super state. The Habsburgs however did create a multicultural empire which lasted for centuries. Upon visiting the city of Vienna I could see the nostalgia for the imperial period all around me. Franz Joseph is venerated as a benevolent monarch who held all the various faiths and nations of the Empire under his enlightened tutelage. Our guide in the Austrian Parliament proclaimed proudly that never had Europe seen such a multilingual and multicultural parliament as the one in Franz Joseph’s time, until the European Parliament.

Countries such as Austria, which has seen itself torn apart by nationalisms of its subject nations and later on annexed willfully by its own German nationalism, understandably harken back to the Imperial era as a time of peace and stability. Such belief is (or was) shared widely in Western Europe. Where once the catholic faith or the divine right of a sovereign served as overarching principles keeping various faiths, creeds and nations together within an empire, now other principles should keep Europe whole and united. Democracy, rule of law and human rights, which would allow every individual to thrive, irrespective of his group allegiances are the new overarching principles keeping the EU whole and united. Truly, it seemed that Vienna was living its glorious imperial days and simultaneously espousing the new principles of Europe.  The bitter fruits of the Westphalian order were reaped and never again shall the dark times of nationalism return. The air itself seemed to echo as I walked the marbled streets of Vienna.

Yet visiting Budapest and Prague my impressions changed. I visited the national museums of these cities, as many as I could. Museums are symbols of national discourse, they paint the history of the country/nation as the locals themselves wish to see it and as they want it to be seen by others. Vienna wanted to be viewed as a seat of a multicultural, enlightened and prosperous empire. Furthermore it wants to see itself as precursor, or at least an inspiration for the EU. The stories of Prague and Budapest paint a different picture. Their histories tell a tale of proud nations under the yoke of foreign despots, their cultures being assimilated, their collective rights being trampled. In Budapest, words written with sorrow adorn the walls on the entrances to the room where the story of the Great War is told. Hungary was dragged to the gutter together with their overlords, torn apart and humiliated. The shrunken map of the once great kingdom, under which these words lay, fills the viewer with melancholy and righteous rage at the injustice of it all.

These sentiments are echoed by the leaders of the Visegrad group. Like the smaller states of the HRE in the 17th century they too cherish their independence, their independence and are weary of foreigners. Nationalist sentiments run high, a far cry from the welcoming Vienna. I thought that I could find during my journey the invisible knots that tie Europe together, those elusive common values which no one can quite pin down. Instead I discovered a world so diverse and divided that any common ground or tongue seems distant. While democracy, human rights and the rule of law are still cherished, they don’t seem to be enough to produce a common sense of belonging. The dream of Charles V and many others like him seems unfulfilled. Rather the tenets of the Westphalia order call to them. Europe it seems is still the child of Richelieu, more than it is an offspring of Charles V. The nation state is alive and well.

Sladjan Rankic

 

Belgrade is still my favorite European capital

Abroad we goooo!

After 22 days traveling through Europe, I’ve experienced amazing things. This will sound cliche but these were the best days of my life. I don't know where to start this little story of mine, I would like to tell you everything but it could last for days, instead I will try to focus on the good and the bad the Europe has to offer in a few sentences. Before writing this article I decided to scroll through all the photos I have and I must tell you, it still feels like I wasn’t there. The hardest part: Explaining to people why I still love Belgrade the most.

So, from the beginning. I was kind of a lucky looser, because at first I didn’t pass the first qualifying round, but something happened and here I am. The preparation was easy, at least for me. My sister was a last year winner, so she told me about all the things I would need, and how to best prepare myself.

It’s Sunday afternoon and it is time to start this journey of mine, and not just mine, there was 50 of us. Our first destination was Berlin, and if you ask me, I would stay there my whole life. The city is just beautiful and people are so kind. Then came the rain, starting in Germany and following as through Holland, Belgium and France. Not that we had any trouble with her, it was just plain annoying. Visiting Holland and Belgium I’ve realized how much more advanced they are when it comes to infrastructure and using renewable energy. Rotterdam is a great city, well build and suitable for life. Amsterdam is more of a tourist destination, enveloped in the smell of a pot. In Belgium I’ve visited Brussels and Bruges. Then it was time to visit Paris. I was unexplainable happy, I was living my dream. I have around hundred pictures of Eiffel tower, and a thousand more of the rest of the city. Next, we went to Spain, the crew was great. Barcelona, ooh we finally reached see. This city is amazing, clean and well settled. Madrid, on the other hand, was a whole different story, the first city that reminded me of our country, besides the fact that it was extremely hot. You could feel a soul of the city, the way people act, talk... Everything was peaceful and then I realized how this is what I like and not a big Metropolis where people are in a constant hurry, where there is no time for pleasure in a way of hanging around with other people and just talking. On the way home we visited Wien, and even slept on the beach in a small Italian town Ventimiglia. Finally it was time to go home.

I love Belgrade, and I’m proud to be able to say that from everything I've seen over there, Belgrade is one the most beautiful, breathtaking, friendly and generous places in Europe.

Srbislav Stojic

 

What I learned about law in Europe

As the student of law school my professional deformation is to learn more and more about judicial system. I used this Eurotrip to know better some of the rules in EU and how to act in some situations.

First, before we start our journey, I have googled about Amsterdam and what is forbidden when we are talking about opiates. On the first I would like to point out that the freedom of every human being may decide about the matters of its own life. In Holland we have division on hard and soft drugs. Hard drugs are forbidden and soft are not if you are using it for personal joy. Since 2008 mushrooms are forbidden and you can buy marihuana products in coffee shops which have declaration for selling.

On our journey we saw in the first hand what means when you break the rules. In Rotterdam, on rail station it is necessary to valid your card when you enter or leave station building. We were unused and that was slowing our running on train because we were always late. We practically skip that barrier as the one of us was authorizing, three were passing behind. I always respected the rules, by the way. One time a group of policeman and security stopped us and wanted to punish us with 100 euro penalty. They asked for our cards, which luckily we had, and they give us lesson that we need to register.

The third and best lesson that we unexpectedly learnt was about customer rights. As we were on start of our trip back home, from Barcelona to Lyon we did not expected many complications. But there was a few. First there was some information that we didn`t understand going on and on. And then all passengers left the train. One of good passengers told us that we are going to a bus. And we were going to from bus to train and to another train. We had only problem with our things and packing those heavy backpacks. In the last train again where wasn`t any information in English and all people around us were wearing some boxes. Than one friend from Serbia came to us and asked why we didn’t take the lunch pack. We were surprised, in box were apology for delay and nice lunch. They were not obligated to give us that but I understand that was compensation for our lost time and work with luggage. Compensation is very important in law and this is very good example of voluntary fulfillment of obligations, without suit, judge, process and other expensive law instruments.

Stefan Radovanovic

 

Cities I fell in love with

Having read so many books and watched movies and tv shows that talk about amazing places all over the world, I wished for a million times to go there and experience it all for myself. My wish came true this summer thanks to the European Movement when I won the trip around Europe, which came as a reward for all those long hours of studying at the library, as a perfect ending of a student life.

Thanks to this amazing opportunity I got to discover why Germany is so special to my best friend, to party in Amsterdam, to see the center of the European Union, to walk around the fairytale land that is Bruges and be in an actual fairytale land of Disney, to have coffee and croissants for breakfast in Paris and so much more.

The most fascinated thing that I discovered during this trip is the human ability to make such beautiful things in so many different ways. Like modernistic Germany, colorful Amsterdam, Belgium’s characteristic rooftops and Paris with its terraces.

While Brandenburg Gate is beautiful and leaves the impression, it is incomparable to the Arc of Triumph, standing in all its glory, contrasting my opinion that the gate in the middle of the city would look odd.

In regard to royal palaces, Potsdam has the biggest summer palace in Europe, But Versailles is the most magnificent. However, much to my surprise, the royal palace in Brussels enchanted me the most (considering that most rooms in Versailles are closed to public and most furniture is in Louvre). Of course, Versailles has the loveliest gardens, but the garden in front of the Rijksmuseum runs the close second.

Talking about museums, Louvre and Van Gogh Museum are simply incomparable, since Louvre has all kinds of art from all over the world throughout all of history, while Van Gogh Museum has masterpieces and the life story of my favorite painter.

I will not even try to compare the library at the Humboldt University, the study room in Versailles and the City Library of Brussels. Suffice it to say that I would study in all three.

Considering food, I truly enjoyed all of it, from Berliner beer, to non-hush brownies, to exquisite Belgium chocolate, to my personal favorite, macaroons. I did not succeed in comparing Ladurée and Pierre Hermé macaroons because the first ones are one-colored, one-flavored (with so many kinds) and the other ones are the most exotic combinations you can imagine (try pepper, lime, raspberry for example).

There are so many wonderful places in this world and I am grateful that I got to see the part of it. I will never forget walking down Unter den Linden, riding a bicycle across little bridges in Amsterdam, hiding from rain in Brussels, eating chocolate in Bruges and macaroons in front of the Eiffel Tower, as well as the magical fireworks in Disneyland. I hope to one day get to see all of it again and I believe my wish will come true because, “If you can dream it, you can do it.”

Teodora Curcic

 

Conservation of Nature in the Countries of EU: An essay

Let us start off with an interesting thought. Imagine a country with an impeccable economy, international trade system and political regime. People of this country would be pleased with the standard of life and have little health problems. This country would most probably have an almost perfect idea of nature conservation and bio management. This is what we call an ideal country and most people think this is unreachable in today’s society. What I have encountered on my trip through the countries of the European Union is not ideal, but comes close to it. In this essay we will talk about a few countries that manage to have a healthy economy and not endanger the environment, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain.

A typical sight in AmsterdamA typical sight in AmsterdamThere is no need to emphasize the importance of recycling when it comes to conservation of nature. This idea is very much utilized in all of these countries, where you don’t even encounter a “normal” trash can, what we call them in Serbia (since there is little recycling sites there).  We have encountered a major culture shock in Germany when we realized that plastic bottles and cans are separately charged and you can get your money back when you return them to the store. Talk about nipping it in the bud, very interesting and efficient.

Another major concern are, of course, energy resources.  We have encountered numerous elegant wind turbines while travelling on the train, showing their white propellers through the clouds of Germany, The Netherlands, France and Switzerland. The blinding reflection of light off enormous solar panels in Spain has rendered us speechless. One could write a few essays on the importance of renewable energy, but here we will be short and (I hope) sweet.

Needless to say, we were astonished at the number of cyclists we have encountered in every city we have visited. Amsterdam is fascinating when it comes to this (Figure 1). Public transportation strictly relies on underground metros and trams, whereas busses are relatively rare. Really a great way to minimize pollution in big cities!

In conclusion, it is apparent that all of the countries listed in this short essay are rich, with a good economy. We can correlate the life standard of the people there with the conservation of the environment. These countries prove a point that economy and ecology can have a symbiotic relationship rather than letting one suffer because of the other.

Tijana Nikolić

 

Social inclusion: economic need or a basic human right?

According to the definition of the Council of the European Union social inclusion is a  „process that allows those who are at risk of poverty and social exclusion gain the opportunities and resources needed for full participation in economic, social and cultural life and achieving the standard of living and well-being that is considered normal in the society in which they live. It ensures their greater participation in decisions that affect their lives and achieve their basic rights.“

Terms social inclusion and social exclusion represent two aspects of the same phenomenon. The official policy of combating poverty and social exclusion in the EU is called policy of social inclusion and social protection.

On the other hand social exclusion „at the level of EU member states is defined as a process whereby certain individuals are pushed to the edge of society and prevented from full participation in society due to their poverty or lack of basic knowledge and opportunities for lifelong learning or as a result of discrimination. Such phenomena, individual or groups of the population away from employment opportunities, income and education opportunities as well as social networks and community activities. These individuals have little access to institutions, authorities and decision-making processes affecting their heightened sense of powerlessness and inability to influence their own lives."

Social inclusion does not represent today only area that is limited to social security but also an integral part of policy development.

Social policy is one of the key segments of general social policy. Good social policy creates the preconditions for successful development of the whole society, but also for an efficient economy. Social expenditure is actually an investment in the society. Economic success is of little value if it is accompanied by the failure of the social plan.

Social policy is now often neglected because of the economic policy. It is forgotten that the situation of existential threat, as well as all forms of social insecurity of the population, have the negative impact on the overall social productivity and social peace. It is therefore necessary to link economic and social policy with the aim of balancing social and economic development. Economic development can not be an end in itself, but on the contrary, the starting point must be the provision of adequate standard of living and security of the population. "Most organized societies throughout history led a" conscious and practical social activity that deals with living and working conditions of people and social groups.“ Even Aristotle said that" the one who rules has to help, too.“

The current global social policy of the United Nations is based on human rights and social justice.

In Serbia, during the crisis the situation with respect for social and economic rights get worse. This can be seen from the basic data on the unemployment rate, average salary and the consumer basket. From these data it is clear that every fourth person can not find a job and that the majority of the population only with difficulty paying its basic needs, such as housing and food. In a still more difficult position are the young workers, unskilled, uneducated workers without experience, over forty years, as well as certain "vulnerable" social groups. One of the rights under the European Social Charter, which Serbia joined in 2009, is the protection of social exclusion.

Social inclusion is a part of the corpus of social and economic rights and their protection. So, it is a fundamental human right, on the one hand. On the other hand, it is also an economic necessity, both of each individual and of society itself. Social inclusion as well as economic needs and social inclusion as a fundamental human right represent the "two sides of the same coin." These two concepts are a reflection of each other. Without respect for social inclusion as a basic human right we can not imagine a stable social policy and consequently economic policy of the whole society.

Tijana Šaldić

 

Vienna Museum of Natural History

The Natural History Museum Vienna is one of the largest, oldest, and most noteworthy natural history museums in the world.  It houses a collection of about 30 million specimens and artifacts. Its collections were founded in 1750 by Emperor Franz I Stephan of Lorraine, the husband of Maria Theresa. The scientific collections are a window onto the diversity of species and feature a wealth of minerals and meteorite and prehistoric remains. They comprise a number of famous and unique objects, such as the 25,000-year-old figure of the “Venus of Willendorf”, an almost complete skeleton of Steller’s Sea Cow, which became extinct more than 200 years ago and the oldest meteorite collection in the world, including the spectacular “Tissint” meteorite from Mars, as well as the permanent anthropological exhibition on the origins and development of humans. Museum also has a research departments, and the number of specimens is growing, as research trips and digs yield still more discoveries.

However, time does not stand still. According to that fact, museum has variety of modern visual presentations, graphic displays and computer simulation of different types of evolutionary process. The one of the most interesting innovation is Digital Planetarium featuring full dome projection technology that gives visitors the chance to embark on fascinating virtual journeys in stunning scientific detail to the edge of the Milky Way galaxy or history of the World. One of the most fascinating films that can be seen this summer in Planetarim is one called Origins of life. This show is a inspirational journey through time and a celebration of life on Earth. Starting with the Big Bang, in chronological order, the show deals with the prebiotic chemistry in the Universe, the formation of stars, formation of solar systems, and the first life on Earth. Furthermore Origins of life covers the great extinctions as well as our search for life beyond planet Earth. There is also not to be missed thing to see in Natural history museum in Vienna called Otherworlds, a photographic tour of the solar system in a mesmerizing new exhibition by Michael Benson. Otherworlds reveals the eerie beauty of the Solar System and decisively demonstrates that the visual legacy of six decades of space exploration constitutes an important chapter in the history of photography.

Natural history museum in Vienna is one of the largest European museums. It is collections on display cover 8,700 square meters. Also, it is the one of the most important museums of that kind because of its famous and irreplaceable exhibits as for instance the Venus of Willendorf and the skeleton of a Diplodocus dinosaur. The interaction of the building, its ornate decoration, furniture and precious exhibits makes the museum itself an artifact for historical preservation. Visiting Vienna Museum of Natural History is the best way to improve our understanding of the natural world. It is a place that widens our perspective, shows us who we are as a human beings in the evolution of life, and helps us understanding that humanity cannot be regarded as something separate from the rest of the earth system and nature.

 

Tina Stojadinovic

 

When I was preparing for my journey, I didn’t know what to expect from today’s Europe. Every day in the newspapers and online news portals you could see headlines like: “Terroristic attack in Brussels’ airport”, “Paris terrorist attacks kill over 100”, “Bastille day massacre”, etc. As if that wasn’t enough, my parents kept telling me: “Stay away from large gatherings. When you see a big crowd go somewhere else”, and my friends kept asking me: “Do you need a pepper spray? We could buy you one, it’s dangerous there.” I wasn’t afraid at any moment, but I came in conclusion that people around me are terrified by things that are going on in Europe. This is not the case only with my surrounding, the fear is everywhere. Especially now, because of all these things, I think people in Serbia are becoming skeptical of joining the European Union. Migrant crisis and Brexit, along with terroristic attacks made people gain picture that Europe is unstable and ready to burst. But every continent, country, region and city has its own problems, and we shouldn’t make rushed judgments and decisions about state in which they are.

When people are overwhelmed with bad news every day, problems and crisis, they forget other things, like what Europe really is, its history, culture and all beauty that carries. The moment I got off the train in Berlin, I forgot all the bad things that have happened and I began exploring Europe in an attempt to see everything what Europe has to offer and without mediation of media. I wanted to see Europe in some other light. In Berlin, besides its significant history we learned how Germans treat migrants. Our tour guide Ruslan showed us how you can help people, after all they had been through, to start new and normal life. Ruslan’s “New neighborhood” organization policy is that it’s not enough to just give people money, it is necessary, first of all, to integrate them into society and to enable them to earn money on they own. They give them language lessons, organize art workshops, exhibitions, give them space to express themselves. That’s the model that we should embrace. They opened a bar where all earned money goes for language lesson for migrants. That way they gave them chance to work and to learn German. Finding alternative ways to successfully solve problems is one of the many good things that Berlin taught us.

After several days of travel and visiting Netherlands, we came to Brussels. Seeing armed men at the main station reminded us of the things that have happened in that city after almost a week of carefree journey through Europe. But the shiver was shortly gone when we walked out of the station and saw all of the beauty of historical part of the town. I must admit that we came in Brussels quite unfamiliar with the city’s cites. Watching the news, we got impression that the only thing you could see in Brussels is a European Commission building. But Brussels has slapped our ignorant faces with beautiful monuments, royal palaces, squares... As a candidate country for membership in the European Union, we saw Brussels primarily as a city of the most important political institutions. But when you are tourist in Brussels you don’t see politics, you see beautiful town with rich history, and, of course, delicious chocolates and waffles. Our next stop was Paris. Our only worry was that we won’t see everything we want because of the rain that didn’t want to stop the whole time we were in Paris. We couldn’t not see the problems that France is facing - dirty streets, smells and crime rates that are a consequence of months of strikes. But I am optimistic about the future of this town. Place with such impressive culture, art, science can’t allow to perish because of the bad government decisions. France has already changed the world once.

In 22 days we visited 8 countries and we have seen both good and bad sides of Europe. But the conclusion is that there are so many things that we need to learn from Europe and that we shouldn’t live in fear. We are still dazzled by all the city’s we were in, by all the things we saw and experienced. Before anyone starts to make conclusions on the European Union and the life in it, they should visit it first and feel all that that Europe has to offer. This trip definitely has changed our views and has served us to rethink about ourselves. Now is the time we transfer it to other people and to try to change stereotypes that have developed over the years.

Vesna Novković

 

My Eurotrip

I will remember this summer because of amazing experience I had. The project that allows students to travel through Europe amazed me because it allows journey that students in Serbia cannot afford, and even if they could, I doubt that they would travel this way. I doubt that I would ever get out on a adventure with people I have never met and without a precise plan of the journey. Big thanks to the people behind the project “Travel to Europe”.

I was on my journey for two weeks. I visited Berlin, Amsterdam, Paris and Barcelona. We spent couple of days in each place. There is no city in the world that you can fully know in such small amount of time but it is enough to get the impression of the people, their culture and the atmosphere of that place. Everywhere I went I managed to visit all of the important landmarks. The photos in front of the Brandenburg gate, bridges of Amsterdam, Eiffel tower, Sagrada Familia and many beautiful places will always serve as a memory. However, for me, acquaintances and friendships that I made are much more valuable. I will always remember people from Germany, Netherlands, France, Italy, Spain, Ireland, Australia and many other countries that I met during this trip. It is great that young people from all over the world can find common language. Of course, like all young people, we had a lot of fun. In Berlin we enjoyed the best beer, nightlife in Amsterdam is very unique and in Barcelona we spent most of the time on the beach whit sounds of guitar. Unfortunately I got robed on that same beach. They took my interrail ticket so my journey ended in Barcelona. Fortunately I had just enough money for one way airplane ticket back home. I was never on a airplane before an I particularly liked it especially because my flight lasted only two and a half hours.

This journey changed me a lot. I gained a lot of confidence to communicate whit people in other language and for managing in all kinds of situations. Once again, big thanks to everybody who made this great experience possible for me.

Višnja Babačić

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