My IT Passport to Serbia

Posted by Catherine Stewart on 31 October 2018

‘Serbia? … Now where is that again?... Near Russia?’ was the most common response I got when I told my family and friends I was moving to live and work in Serbia. It wasn’t long before I realised that people were confusing it with Siberia - call me crazy but I was trying to escape from the cold of Ireland and Scotland for a little while, not add to it.

I met one team from PanonIT while I was working in Scotland. They were in Glasgow completing research at Strathclyde University as part of the European Commission Horizon 2020 Project. I was wanting to make a change in my career path and once I heard about the work of PanonIT, its projects, prospects and possibility, I was sold and now work as a Business Developer for the company.
I’m proud to call Novi Sad, the IT capital of Serbia, my current home- It’s small enough to include all the spoils with none of the stress. Someone once told me that Novi Sad is good for the soul and after being here for a few months, I can see why- Its picturesque, filled with culture, art and architecture. The perfect choice for the European Capital of Culture in 2021.
I love Serbian food, it’s a unique combination of flavors and truly delicious. Serbian specialties don’t have a natural translation in foreign languages, so its best if you come and taste them for yourself, I recommend; sarma (sour cabbage rolls filled with meat and rice), ćevapi (mini minced kebabs, that must be eaten with kaymak and onions- even Jamie Oliver has a recipe for it online) and paprikash (comparable to a spicy Irish stew). Prste da poližeš!
All my life, I’ve lived close by the sea and I knew that this aspect of living in Serbia was going to be a challenge for me. Sometimes I think that Serbia is overlooked by people of the west because of its landlocked position. When, in fact, Serbia is a hidden gem for travelers itching for an undiscovered Europe.
Here are some of my impressions of my time in Serbia (so far!).
Živeli! You might want to learn the Serbian word for ‘cheers!’ ahead of time, because you’re going to be hearing it, endlessly. Serbia’s native language is Serbian and believe me, a little lingo goes a long way.
Although its not vital to speak Serbian, I personally couldn’t imagine living in a foreign country and making no effort to speak the native language. I’m taking classes privately and my teacher Danijela Šilovanović is great. Serbian people are hospitable and have such a relaxed, friendly manner, that Danijela is more like a friend than my teacher.
I know that no one will ever ask me about my opinions on politics but being able to ask a casual ‘kako si?’ or say a simple ‘prijatno!’ makes a huge difference in getting strangers to open up to you.
Before moving to Serbia, I rarely drank coffee. I was a tea girl through and through. Coffee, domaća kava, plays an utterly vital part of life here and is acceptable at any time of the day. The full Serbian experience requires a steamy cup of thick, muddy domestic coffee. My first try was a disaster … no one told me not to stir!

Did you know that Serbia is famous for its exportation of raspberries around the world? Well, chances are you did, and chances are you won’t find fresh raspberries in supermarkets because of this.

You might be surprised to know that software services have actually surpassed the exportation of raspberries.

The IT industry in Serbia is constantly growing and is showing great potential for economic growth in the years to come. The government alone is planning to spend 65 million euros developing the IT infrastructure over the course of the next three years. The education system is focused and dedicated to Information Technologies and Technical Sciences and a third of students are currently studying within this field. Novi Sad, being a University City has a buzz when it comes to hiring the best and freshest new talent.
I’m fortunate to be working as a Business Developer for PanonIT in a time when the IT industry is booming. I’m really enjoying my new role which involves speaking with people all around the globe and sharing Serbia’s IT advantages with them. I’m working with intelligent and skilled developers who continuously amaze me with the things they are creating daily.
The wealth of the Serbian tech scene some might say was driven by one of their own success stories- Nikola Tesla, whose passion for his work was a driving factor in his success.
I think Serbians today share this passion and dedication when it comes to the work they are doing. I’m excited for what my time in Serbia will bring but only time will tell, vreme će reći.

Do sledeće prilike, ćao