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16 Year Old Serb Talking About Uprooting to Indonesia Because of NATO Attacks


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It’s very interesting yet horrible to hear of the struggle so many Serbians went through during the NATO attacks on their country in 1999. I was fortunate enough to discuss the story of one young Serb student whose family was forced to flee the bombing attacks of 1999. Igor Mijovic was kind enough to share some of his experiences in Indonesia.

“I was born in Belgrade in 1999 just 14 days before the start of the NATO bombing. I lived relatively a peaceful and fun childhood, I was never bothered with my family’s money issues, we didn’t have much but I was happy with the way things were, of course I was unaware of the real state of things with my dad’s job and how it was all falling to pieces. When my parents announced we were moving to Indonesia it hit me like a dagger to the heart. I was leaving all of my friends and family behind, going not only to another country, but to another continent I knew nothing or very little about. For me the worst part was that I would be unable to communicate with other people since I thought my English was way below the level of those kids that went to an international school. At first my months at my new school were awful, everything was so different from what I was used to, and everyone whispered about that tall Serbian guy who came from an unknown land, they could not bully me because I was too big for them, I was just ignored and I kept telling myself that this whole nightmare will be over soon, that I don’t need these new people in my life and that I will be back in my beloved country once again. It all changed though when I met a Canadian guy who spent an evening with me and that’s when it all started for the better. I met people from loads of different countries, shared stories and began to change mentally and emotionally. I realized not everything was as I thought, at this time I found Charles Cather’s first video on youtube and it really helped me fight my nostalgia, I’ve watched every one since. After 4 years I made tons of friends from all kinds of backgrounds, but it was not to last, since I was to move to my country once again. It was my choice, since I was old enough to be semi-responsible, but getting something means leaving something else behind. I had to leave all those dear friends I made and return to those I haven’t seen for years. Honestly living in an international community helped to change me for the better and I decided I won’t hate on anyone before I have a good talk with them and get to know their story. I’m planning on studying history and maybe becoming and international teacher to travel around. ”

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Charles:  What were your first impressions of Indonesia?

Igor:  I expected it to be like those Chinese cities you see in movies, lots of tall buildings with flashing signs in unknown letters. I was surprised at what I saw though, the air was humid and hard to breathe, there is a huge difference between lower and high class, with no middle class. There was very little bread and red meat and the way people acted was very strange, I’ve never experienced that much respect and awe of white people in my life.

Charles:  What did you miss the most about Serbia?

Igor: Well for the first year or so it was my friends and my relatives I missed the most until I actually started making international friends. Food was also a pain to get used to. It’s not the usual asian food we eat in the west, lots of rice, many spices we haven’t even heard of, fruits that taste very strange compared to kajsija and shljiva :D. But most of all it was the freedom, I couldn’t walk around and go exploring, I couldn’t hug or kiss my friends in public. It was mostly the staying at home all the time that tortured me the most.

 

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Charles: Where the locals respectful of your faith since it’s a Muslim country?

Igor: Indonesians are a very religious people, no matter what religion they are, they dismiss facts and other pleasures of life in order to be that much closer to their god. I myself am an atheist, I did enjoy celebrating my country’s many traditions and festivities, but that stuff was hard to come by. I did get looks of curiosity but sometimes even disgust and hate for not being a religious person, mostly from radical muslims and christians. My first year at school had mandatory religion and they had Protestant, Catholic, Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim, and I couldn’t find a place there, so I went with the protestants (one of my worst decisions since all we learnt about is how only they are right and true and everyone else is false).

Charles: Any similarities between the cultures?

Igor: The cultures are very different. The only things I found similar is the fact that they were under colonial rule for most of the time we were under Ottoman occupation.

 

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Charles: What were the biggest differences in culture that you had a hard time adjusting to?

Igor: Indonesians have everything the opposite of Serbia, they are very radical religious, have more than 300 ethnic groups within the country, some even warring with each other. They don’t like to show emotions, believe in ghosts and spirits too much and due to the lack of education (with every school having to be paid for, and millions in poverty having no money for it) lack basic knowledge and intelligence. It also takes much longer to reach to them and get close to them as friends, than it would with a western person. In the end they proved to be just as good and fun as my Serbian friends.

Charles: Had most people heard of Serbia? If so, what were their impressions?

Igor: Most Indonesians didn’t know what I was talking about when I said Serbia, but when I said Yugoslavia they usually nodded their heads and said things like “Long live Tito, Indonesia’s friend!”, I didn’t really feel like explaining to them that he’s dead and that everything changed. People in my school never showed much interest in my country, most thought its a warzone still, laughed at my opanci and asked me to say random things in Serbian. I tried my best to show Serbia in a good light, and how civilised it is compared to Indonesia, for me that was a must when it came to discussing my country.

This is one story of thousands of Serbs who were displaced throughout the 90’s. 5366_10200496493149514_460826202_n

 
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Posted by on June 30, 2015 in Through my eyes

 

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Help a Serbian University Student Experience the U.S.A.


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If you are like most folks throughout the United States, you probably know little about the J-1  Visa Summer Work and Travel Program.

Are you lazy? Would you rather listen to me talk about the work and travel program? Click here :)
This program was created in the 1960s by the Kennedy administration as a way of improving America’s image around the globe. It also plays a very beneficial role for the American business owner and the student. The businesses owners, customers, and employees get to learn about foreign nations, cultures, and befriend folks from different backgrounds. It makes the world a much smaller and more enjoyable place. The foreign students are allowed to work during their university’s summer break at seasonal jobs throughout the United States of America. They learn how American businesses operate and gain some valuable experience which can improve their employment future back in their own country. Once their work contract is finished, they get 30 days of tourism before returning to their country. This program supplies some employers with enough summer staff to fill their summer rush. It may seem like it takes jobs away from Americans, but many of these locations don’t have enough American workers to fill the open positions. There are many resorts in the middle of Denali National Park, Yellowstone, mountain towns in Colorado and the islands off the coast of Massachusetts that are unable to find locals to work in their resorts. This program is helping small business owners stay in business while bringing in foreign students who are renting apartments and buying local products from the community.

Serbia is one of the bigger players in this program. There were around 2,700 Serbian university students who were approved on this program last year. This year the enrollment was almost doubled! We, Work and Travel Group,  are sending around 750 students to the USA for the summer of 2015.

Do you know any business owners who might be interested in bringing in a Serbian university student for the summer of 2016? Serbian students are allowed to work 4 months between May 21- Oct 1st. My agency has contacts with many successful and large companies throughout the USA. mat4

The employer must provide a copy of their current business license along with a copy of their workman’s compensation insurance policy. The majority of our students are working in bars, restaurants, hotels, fast food restaurants, retail stores, and many other hospitality-type businesses throughout the USA.

The location and job must be vetted by the U.S. State Department to make sure it aligns with the program guidelines, but many states are covered. We sent our first group of Serbian students to St. Louis, Missouri this year. My old school friend, Bill Croy, is the GM for a few McDonalds on the western part of St. Louis. He decided to bring in 5 Serbian students and they are loving it so far. They are able to work with Hispanics, African Americans, and many other minority groups that they may have never encountered if not for this program.

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They were also able to experience their first Walmart. :) One of the students was dying to try “Hersey’s” for the first time.

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This program can also be a great thing for local homeowners. The students have a budget of between $75- $100 a week to spend on accommodation. This can be a big boost to a struggling American household where every dollar counts during the hot summer months. One homeowner took in 7 students and is able to use the almost $12,000 each summer to take his family on a big vacation each fall.

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The children in the house also love meeting these “funny sounding” foreigners. One American family from North Dakota randomly ran into a Serbian student who was asking if he could play soccer with their little son. They all quickly formed a life-long bond and they are now considered family. The American family even flew over to Serbia to surprise him and his friends on Thanksgiving.

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It has even formed friendships between students from unlikely places. One Serbian student started working at a restaurant on Martha’s Vineyard. He learned that two of his coworkers in the kitchen were Albanians from Kosovo. It made him very uncomfortable at first, but they soon were hanging out together after work and on weekends. This program can really change the world.

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Want to meet up with a Serbian student who is in the USA this summer? Download our app to find out where the Serbian students are and send them a message.!

If you or anyone you know, might be interested in taking in a Serbian student or two for the summer of 2016…… contact me ANYTIME!
charles.cather@workandtravelgroup.com

 
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Posted by on June 17, 2015 in Through my eyes

 

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My Emergency Visit to a Serbian Dentist


dentist No one in their right mind enjoys a visit to the dentist. I have a horrible fear of the dentist. Just thinking about the sound of the drill and the smell of the dentist office, makes the hair on the back of my neck start standing. I have had several impacted molars that my old dentist back home told me to remove, but I never did. I didn’t have the time, money nor courage to do so. That was a mistake! You should never let your dental issues drag on and on because they will only get worse. The last time I visited a dentist prior to this Serbian dentist was 2013 ! He  told me that my back molar was going to need some attention in the very near future. I was about to head back over to Serbia so I just asked them to give me an estimate on what the repairs would cost. The two cavities were going to cost around $230 a piece and the “possible” root canal would be $1,100! No way was I going to spend $2000 before I left for Serbia. They would have to wait! dentist1 Fast forward to December of 2014. I was eating some chocolate cake and it felt like a hammer had just been slammed down on my back molar! The pain was massive. I thought if I just  started avoiding that side of the mouth when I was chewing the pain would go away,  but it didn’t help. I had to find a dentist! I remembered a doctor had contacted me on Facebook a few months prior. He had mentioned that his girlfriend was a dentist and they were interested in getting into the “Dental tourism” business. I searched through my messages and found him. They told me to come over the next day so they could examine the tooth! That doesn’t happen very often back home! DSC_0289_1024x681 The office was very close to the center of Belgrade and was easy to find from the bus stop. I really had no idea what to expect from a Serbian dentist’s office, but it sure wasn’t the clean, modern office that I found. DSC_0288_1024x681 My dentist, Dr. Mirjana Filipovic,  was even a beautiful young woman who didn’t invoke instant fear in me like my other dentists. :) She sat me down and asked me a little about about my problems. I apologized for eating some burek on the way over! :) I can only imagine how nasty that was for her! :) She found the issue and told me exactly what all I needed to have done. The cavities were 25E and the root canal that was a MUST, would be 100E. I couldn’t hardly imagine that would be possible. What was she going to use? Rusty pliers? Old, outdated equipment? She showed me all the tools that she would be using and even explained everything in detail to me.  All of their products and instruments come from Germany, Italy, Switzerland and Japan, just like my dentist back in the USA. She told me that most dentists use the old silver colored fillings instead of the white ones because they are cheaper. She ONLY uses the white ones and doesn’t charge an extra fee like most other dentists. She had me sold! :) DSC_0622_1024x681 She started in on her work after giving me a few shots of something that numbed my entire mouth. She would constantly ask me if something hurt or if I felt anything uncomfortable. I felt NOTHING! She explained the roots in each tooth and how the root canal would be done. She opened both teeth and placed some meds in them before sealing them off. She said that I would need to return in one week.  ROUND 1… Complete with NO PAIN! debut I left the dentist’s office to shoot 8 hours of video for a  kitchen products company in Hong Kong! Thank God I was able to talk. My final round started the morning before I was heading to Uzice, Serbia for a speaking engagement in front of a few hundred students. The doctor met me by Sveti Sava church and told me that we would need to go next door for some x-rays of my teeth. We walked into a beautifully decorated office with a pretty young lady behind the desk. She took me right into the x-ray room, snapped the x-rays, and handed them to me within 5 minutes. The cost? Only 10E!!!  The lady was impressed with my few bits of Serbian that I uttered on the way out of her office. DSC_0620_1024x681 We bring the x-rays to the dentist for her to examine. She told me that there shouldn’t be any pain this time because the roots were dead. She was exactly right! The worst pain out of this whole entire project was the shots that she gave me in my mouth and it was only a little prick. I was amazed that a root canal could be done without any pain at all! The little devices that she had to shove down in the tooth looked horrible, but you couldn’t feel anything.  She finished up the procedure and told me that I could eat anytime I wanted to because she had heard my stomach growling. We all sat down over a coffee and discussed this whole procedure and how expensive it was in the USA. They told me that they can do porcelain caps and teeth replacement within 24-48 hours for around 120E too!  I told them that I wanted to use my outreach to bring them more businesses. We called my good friend, Boris Marunic (video producer from Belgrade), and asked him to help us with a short little video! Check it out by clicking here!  I can get you a dental price quote within 24 hours of you contacting me. If you have some dental procedures that you have been putting off, contact me asap!  You could fly over here, take some  exciting tours and get your teeth fixed and still pay less than you will at your dentist! Sound too good to be true? It isn’t! Everything is possible in Serbia :) You have nothing to lose except thousands of dollars at your dentist :) U.S. dentist was going to be around $1900 for all the work I had done while I got it done here for $150. Serbia wins this battle against the USA by saving us an enormous amount of money and time! :)

 
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Posted by on March 15, 2015 in Price difference

 

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Anti-Imperialism Bar in Kragujevac, Serbia


Spent the weekend down in Kragujevac, Serbia.   Kragujevac was the first capital of modern Serbia (1818–1839), and the first constitution in the Balkans was proclaimed in this city in 1835. It is currently the 4th largest city in Serbia with a population around 150K people.

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A few of my best buddies are Palestinians who study at the medical and engineering university in Kragujevac. It had been ages since I last saw them so I took the early afternoon bus from Novi Sad to Kragujevac. I arrived in Kragujevac around 4;45PM. The first thing you see when entering into Kragujevac is this massive cross that dominates the landscape. A few meters after the cross is a massive “Fiat” logo in the center of a roundabout.  Fiat has a major production factory in Kragujevac after they purchased Zastava.

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Fiat purchased  a 67% ownership of the Serbian automobile manufacturing company, Zastava, back in 2008. They manufacture the Fiat 500L at this Serbian automobile plant.

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The city has a lot of beautiful buildings and a great night life. These are a few pictures that were taken by Slavoljub Radojevic.

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My buddy, Sharar, met me in front of Hotel Kragujevac and took me to his apartment for lunch. His girlfriend prepared us a wonderful dinner of chicken, potatoes, and salad. We decided to go out on the town for a few drinks. One of the best things about Kragujevac is the nightlife.  They have a ton of lively bars, kafanas, and nightclubs all over the city.

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We chose the Rakija Bar which has every single flavor of rakija that you could ever want. I chose a premium dunja rakija. It was terrific. We left the rakija bar and headed down to smoke a little bit of nargile with our other buddy, Ramzi.DSC_0645_1024x681 We smoked a few different flavors, drank some beers and then one of my friends took his girlfriend home. I went off to eat with the other dude. We found a wonderful little pljeskavica shop and chatted with the owner for a bit. My other friend returned and we hit up a couple more bars and ended up at a some nightclub. I have a major phobia of being crammed into a small space and not being able to move so we left that place and found one that had a little bit more space. We ended ended the night around 3:20AM and drug our butts home.

I was roused from sleep around 11:30AM by my buddy. His girlfriend had prepared a wonderful breakfast for us.
We worked on a couple things for girlfriend and then he wanted to show me some little bar that was a few blocks from his apartment. I’m always up for exploring new places. The bar is called “Buena Vista” and is located in a little passage close to the main walking street. DSC_0635_1024x681

The entire bar is decked out in Cuban flags, pictures of Fidel Castro, little models of Cuba, Che, and lots of posters against American imperialism.

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The drink menu is about as thick as “War and Peace” . There are an endless amount of mixed drinks with some really unique names like ” Go Home Yankee” , “Fu*K USA”, and “USA Collapse” …

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This might not be the place to bring Obama or any other government employee. :) The bartender was an absolute pro too. He suggested a variety of different drinks with many different liquors in them. They place a big slice of fresh fruit in each glass also. We were stunned at how cheap the prices were! The majority of the drinks were around $3!

This bar is a must if you are a westerner visiting the center of this awesome little country! Tell them that Charles sent ya. :) Check out their Facebook page here!

 
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Posted by on March 9, 2015 in Through my eyes

 

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6’7 Serbian Student Spends a Year in Kansas


pan Marko Vignejevic is a young man from Pancevo, Serbia. He spent one year studying at an American high school through the A-SMYLE student exchange program. One day he received a letter from the organization telling him that he would be spending his year in the tiny little town of Sylvan Grove, Kansas. sylSylvan Grove has a population of about 300 residents! What would happen when a 6’7 Serbian student enters a tiny town in the center of the USA? I asked him a few questions to find out…. Charles- “What were your first impressions of the USA?” Marko- “Okay. My first impressions? Well, lets skip all the flying and sightseeing and jump right into Kansas. So, my first impression of Kansas was “Holy shit, this place is flat!” and I live in Vojvodina. :) Then I started mentally preparing myself for the farmer lifestyle, instead of my city lifestyle that I had in Serbia. Then I got to the house and the farm and I liked it! It was way different than my house in Serbia, but I expected that.”  kansas Charles: “What about the family you lived with? Were they nice to you?” Marko: ” They treated me very well! I never once felt like I didn’t belong! They had four kids already. One daughter and three boys. It was a lot of fun living with them as you can imagine with all those kids running around.”  Charles: ” Did you teach them any Serbian?” Marko: ” I tried, but It didn’t work out very well. They kept pronouncing the J and the G the exact same way. :)”  Charles: “Were they a wealthy family?” Marko: No, average middle class family, but they live much better than an average Serbian family.”  serbi1 Charles: “ Were your real mom and dad worried about you? Did your host family speak with them? “ Marko: No, once all my flying was over, they were fine. My dad is a very reasonable man and calmed everyone else. I introduced my host parents to my real parents over Skype and there was a lot of awkward staring until I started translating because my parents in Serbia speak ZERO English.” Charles:How did the residents of this place treat you?” Marko:The town is so small. It only has 300 people in it. The high school was a consolidation of a few little towns and only had 100 students. The people of Kansas were so nice to me, possibly too nice.” Charles:Were the kids at school friendly to you?” Marko: ” YES! The minute I walked into the school kids started saying ” Great! We are going to state in basketball this year” because I was the tallest guy in school. It was funny because they hadn’t even seen me play yet!  I felt like the star walking around this school being 6’7! I was also the only exchange student.”  serbian Charles:How did your basketball season go in Kansas?” Marko: “It was good. We ended up 9th in whole state of Kansas, but lost badly in our final game. We were 5th in the state at one time”  Charles: ” Did you tell the kids at school about Serbia?” Marko: ” Yes. We had my Serbian flag hanging up in my American history class! :)”  serb1 Charles: ” Did you like American food?” Marko: ” Yes, I loved it! Could you find a way to bring a Taco Bell over here to Serbia? :)Charles: “What was the worst part of your trip?” Marko: “Probably having to leave everyone.Charles: “Anything else you’d like to tell us?” Marko:Well… I won a free trip to Washington D.C and New York City for winning a writing contest and for having lots of community service hours!”  serbi Marko: ” I’d love to find a way to go back to Kansas again next year!”

 
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Posted by on February 7, 2015 in Through my eyes

 

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My Vote for “The World’s Worst Tasting Liquor” …. Pelinkovac


If you aren’t from this part of the world (Eastern Europe or Balkans), chances are you have never heard of a nasty, dark, herbal liquor called “Pelinkovac”.

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Pelinkovac is a bitter liquor based on wormwood (herb used in absinthe). It’s  popular in Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia, Macedonia,  as well as in Slovenia. They say it has over 25 different herbs in it. The alcohol content is 28%-35% by volume. It has a very bitter taste, resembling that of Jägermeister. Two of the most common brands are Zlatni Pelin and Gorki List.

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People  have used pelinkovac for centuries. In the early ages, it was believed that pelinkovac has healing powers and it was used as a medicine. However, today it is primarily used for pleasure.

There are very few alcoholic beverages that I detest, but this one takes the cake.  The herbal taste is overwhelming and leaves the world’s worst aftertaste. You can find it in just about any bar, cafe, or club in this region. You should at least try to drink down a chilled shot of it with a slice of lemon. That is how my Serbian pals do it and they seem to love the stuff.

Drink at your own risk or just stick to rakija! It has many different flavors from many different fruits. :)
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Posted by on January 14, 2015 in Through my eyes

 

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U.S.A. vs Serbia…… Stop Lights


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My friend picked me up at Nikola Tesla Airport in Belgrade, Serbia back in 2010.

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There were a few large Serbs and my scrawny ass crammed into a little red Yugo. We were on our way to my buddies house in a little village around Zrenjanin, Serbia. We stopped at a red light and were talking about pure randomness when I saw the light turn from red to yellow and then to green.us1 I found that so strange. The stop lights in the USA go from red to green. us I asked my buddies why they have the yellow before the light turns green. They thought my question was silly because they assumed all traffic lights were that way. :) The more I live here, the more I think it’s a good thing. The VAST majority of Serbian automobiles are manual transmission while the VAST majority of American cars are automatic. The hardest part of driving a manual car, for most people, is getting it into 1st gear without killing it. Maybe the yellow light gives you that additional few seconds to get your car into gear without creating delays. It would also allow you some sort of break from staring at an “endless” red light. It might also allow you to shut your car off and save gasoline.

My opinion? Serbia wins this battle! :)

 
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Posted by on January 10, 2015 in USA vs Serbia

 

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