My PhD Life in Serbia

Amit Kumar (ESR4)

Hello everyone! In this blog, I am going to share some of my personal views about being a PhD student here in Serbia.

Let me start from the beginning, I obtained my previous degrees from universities in India. While pursuing my postgraduate studies, I always hoped that at some point, I would go abroad to pursue my PhD rather than in my home country. From my perspective, the general benefits of studying in another country include experiencing different cultures, histories, expanding your world view toward other nations, etc.

So, I looked for PhD programs in Europe and I was excited when I found an interesting PhD position within the Nowelties project at the Institute of Physics Belgrade (IPB). They were offering a PhD position on plasma applications, similar to what I was doing during my master’s studies and my research assistant period.

Before arriving in Serbia, I was a bit anxious about how I would fit in such a different academic environment and in a different country. Since it was my first time traveling to Europe for an extended period of stay, it was difficult to leave my home and go to a foreign place. However, I knew about Serbia for scientific discoveries, sports as well as one of the famous tourist destinations in Europe. I was enthusiastic because I was going to explore another country that I never visited, meeting new people, and the PhD would have provided me opportunities to evolve in the global research environment.

After arriving here, it took me months to settle completely. I had a lot of things to do, such as apply for the work permit, enrollment at the university, dealing with bureaucracy, etc. But, everything went very smoothly, people from my laboratory and institute helped me a lot, so I didn’t face crucial problems to figure out the things.

So far, my experience has been positive doing a PhD here in Belgrade. Now I am about to finish the first year. My working conditions are quite flexible, people are very cooperative and help each other. The best thing I have noticed about the work culture at my institute is the lack of competition among PhD researchers. There is also nobody sitting and making judgments about an individual’s work life. It’s a little difficult to truly convey my experience, but I can tell you that it’s the best decision I made to come here.

Belgrade is the capital city of Serbia. It is an incredibly charming city: people are very friendly, open towards foreigners, extremely sociable, and almost every local I met is exceptionally welcoming. There are plenty of opportunities to enjoy local and international cuisine all around the city. Belgrade is renowned as one of the cities with the best nightlife in the world. On the other hand, there are no problems related to communication, I am fascinated by how most of the people here speak English. Now, I have a lot of amazing friends, and it will be tough for me to leave this country.

Additionally, I am spending my spare time here doing sports activities. Cricket, the most popular sport in India, is the least popular sport here in Serbia. Still, I did manage to find a few cricket clubs. I am enjoying it, and currently, I am playing cricket for a club called “Mirijevo Cricket Club”.

Furthermore, I would like to mention that the lockdown in Belgrade due to COVID19, it was a very tough time for everyone. Despite this, my colleagues were organizing online meetings to ensure that no one gets depressed or bored, and I am really grateful for that.

Overall, I am glad that I decided to pursue my PhD in Serbia. My biggest advice to prospective researchers from other countries who wants to consider studying in Serbia is to be determined. You will be surprised and happy with the hospitality of the people in Serbia.