Peter Komsta’s impressions of the Serbian Summer Course in Serbian Language and Culture Workshop in Valjevo.
Having received the letter of acceptance to the school for the grant, I was ever so excited to be able to visit the region with what knowledge I had of Serbian, to visit and experience the place, but most importantly to improve my language skills.
I had acquired my Serbian from the side course at university and was relatively secure there, but arriving in Valjevo and speaking to some and especially the teachers, I seemed to ‘hide into my shell’ and feared the 2 and half weeks of non-comprehension.
Hearing my host – “domacica” (housewife) speak was even worse, but I can clearly say that after the first couple of days, I had accustomed myself to the speed and the various words that I had never heard to date.
Leaving Valjevo, I had become very talkative, if not too much. My knowledge had vastly improved; my fluency and ability to formulate more complicated sentences had developed. Valjevo was one of the best places to study: the teaching levels were very high, the amount of locals willing to speak English was average and generally one was forced to speak Serbian, if one wanted to survive there.
Generally, the programme itself was very interesting, as a vast amount of topics was covered in the lessons, lectures and also in the trips, which were offered, especially in relation to the culture aspect of the history of Serbia and generally the region.
I had particularly enjoyed the lessons at the end of the day, namely cooking, dancing and singing, which do not usually get included in other summer language courses, which I had partaken in.
My apartment, in which I stayed, was very pleasant, being able to befriend two other students, namely: Anthony from Sweden and Christian from Italy, with who I had spent numerous occasions out in Valjevo after the lessons.
It was also great to have been able to spend time with the lecturers, who were all very open, friendly and industrious in assisting with our linguistic woes amongst others, even those more personal! I was very happy to have met so many friendly teachers, that it seemed as if we were peers rather than more distantly professors and students, which made learning much easier and more interesting.
Foremost, I must say that the amount of lessons and cultural activities was sufficient, and I was satisfied with what I had learnt and how I was taught, as I was pleasantly surprised that the teaching staff was around our age and we were able to communicate at ease. I was very satisfied with the accommodation and the fact that we were
centrally located to the school, town and amenities.
Generally, I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to study Serbian in Valjevo at a most useful and pleasant location with excellent staff.
Many thanks and praise to the organisers of the course. I would most certainly recommend the school to peers willing to study Serbian, and as they say, who knows, I may be calling again soon. I would hope to, as my Serbian still need more practice and improvement!
UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies