When I tell people in the UK that I’m living in Serbia, their reaction is usually fairly predictable. It ranges from the mystified “is that in Russia?” to the concerned “is there still a war on?” to the downright dismissive “my husband drove through there on the way back from Greece. He said it was awful”.
When I tell Serbs I am working here, they are often equally disgruntled. Like many countries in South and Central Europe, Serbia has a serious problem with unemployment. This has resulted in a brain drain of some of the country’s most ambitious young people, who are fed up with the clunky bureaucracy and nepotism that is rife in most of the country’s largest companies and go abroad to look for brighter opportunities elsewhere. This means the idea of a foreigner coming to Belgrade from the safe haven of Oxford University can take some getting used to. It just isn’t usually done.