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Off-Campus Study

Notes from Abroad: Dominick in the Balkans

Notes from Abroad is a new feature on the Off-Campus Programs website, in which we highlight small snippets of a student’s experience.  This week’s feature is from Dominick Scafidi’17, a Political Science major and a double minor in Urban Studies/Entrepreneurship currently studying abroad in the Balkans.

Dear Donor,

First off, thank you for helping make my study abroad experience possible. Studying in the Balkans has been an eye opening and educational experience. Your contribution helped me get here and I am extremely thankful for that.

In the classroom, studying in the Balkans is quite different than at Lake Forest. Classes are much longer; we are in class between 10 and 5 pm each weekday. Belgrade has been our home base and I’ve become very acquainted with the city. I’ve made friends with some of the local Serbian students and have started to develop good friendships with them. Studying peace and conflict resolution here allowed for some great experiential learning. We took and week long excursion to Kosovo and got to experience classes with Kosovar students and took a tour of the Kosovo parliament (it has been in the headlines a lot recently for the opposition party throwing tear gas during voting sessions). I am writing this letter from our second excursion to Bosnia. Currently we are staying in the northern region of Banja Luka and tomorrow we are headed to Sarajevo the capital of Bosnia.  When we return to Belgrade I will be starting work on my independent study project, which will be a journalistic feature story. I haven’t selected a topic yet but my focus should be around the new Belgrade Waterfront project or foreign investment after the wars of the 1990s.

Outside of the classroom, I have taken a weekend trip to Ljubljana, Slovenia that was a hidden gem of a city. I’ve had many great nights out in the city of Belgrade. I’ve gotten involved with a local refugee aid center called Miksaliste. It’s been a life changing experience being able to see the European migrant crisis unfold before my eyes instead of though the headlines. Otherwise than that I’ve greatly enjoyed my time outside of the classroom while in the Balkans. 

My homestay family, they’ve been a major part of my experience here. I’ll be honest they have actually become one of my favorite parts of this entire trip. I live with a small family in a 7th floor flat located in the Vracar neighborhood Belgrade. Bogdan, Olivera, and Marta my homestay sister and all great people and characters for sure. Bogdan works for the government TV station and loves to paint and watch American movies. Olivera was an economist during the times of socialist Yugoslavia but now works at a bank in Belgrade. Marta is the same age as me; she’s an architecture student and has introduced me to many of her friends, which has been a great way to meet new locals.

Thank you again for donating to my abroad experience and me. I encourage you to follow my blog while I’m over here: https://domsbalkanexperience.wordpress.com/

Dominick Scafidi