Country: Peru, Austria, France
Year of return: 2017
LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW
Ana’s father passed away in 2011 and
about a year later she passed through a
deep emotional crisis. After his death,
she started visiting her mother in Serbia
more often. Sometimes even three times every two
PLOTTING AN EXIT PLAN
It wasn’t sudden but a gradual, slow decision to return and all along
Ana was exploring possibilities for securing the financial well being
upon the return. She had a very good relationship with the director
of the company she worked for, so she received an offer to continue
working with them as a remote consultant. Reduced work hours
would leave her enough spare time to develop a freelancing job as a
When Ana was a little girl she went with her parents to Peru, where they stayed for three years before returning to Yugoslavia. After three years, her family moved to Vienna. She moved to Vienna in 1991 as a 19 year old, where she spent the next 6 years before she fell in love and left Vienna for France, dropped out of college to enroll in Law School in Lyon, where she graduated, finished her Master’s studies, worked and stayed there for the following 19 years.
Before returning to Serbia in 2017, she had started thinking about returning in 2011, when her father died. Ana states that she went through an emotional crisis that hit her hard maybe a year later. When her father passed away, Ana was traveling more often to Serbia to see her mother, and with more frequent travels, Ana believes that one becomes more involved, which made her feel unhappy in France. Ana shared that her life revolved around work, resting and then working some more, with almost no social life. Being a woman in France was complicated if she wanted to go out. Over the years, she has experienced numerous incidents like being attacked and mugged when she was walking alone on the street. This left her pretty traumatized, so she needed to pay attention to whether she was wearing makeup or not, what she was wearing, at what time she was returning home and with whom.
Ana started missing her friends, and especially the friends whom she developed meaningful relationships with while she was in school in Serbia. Reflecting on her inner feelings, she shared that she felt “different” and that something was always missing wherever she went outside Serbia. At the same time, she felt genuinely connected to Belgrade as she has “her people” here.
Ana admits she doesn’t know what the main issue is in France – it’s not the language, but maybe the relations between people, because she has a feeling that the French, although they are a good people, are somewhat “empty”.
There was no particular event that made Ana return. She was thinking about it for a long time. One day, after speaking with her boss, she says that he was asking for a decision, since they were discussing this for years now. On April 2016, Ana made her choice and felt ready, bored with waiting. Ana says she had enough of years and years of planning, talking about it, and crying whenever she travelled to Serbia and back.
Organizing the return
Ana shared that finding a way to secure financial stability was the main problem. Her company agreed to have her work as an external consultant and that was great. Ana now had provide a legal framework for that in Serbia, so she started investigating the laws and legislations. It took her months to gain a proper image of it, but she does not complain because dealing with legal framework and administration in France taught her that it is complicated there as well and one just has to have patience. As for finding an apartment, she claims that was no issue, since her mother lives in Serbia.
Returning to Serbia
Ana was always telling the French how Serbia is great because you can get a passport and ID in 48 hours, how you book an appointment for it online, and how she has never waited for a long time to wrap up everything she needed. It was more pleasant for Ana in comparison to her waiting for visa in France. She remembers how it was “a catastrophe”, going in at 6 AM, her turn to come in the office was at 8 AM, and then leaving at around 2 PM, when she was getting her visa.
There were days Ana was surprised by the amount of content and events, attending three events in one day. She finds that the cultural offer is amazing in Belgrade, and that people always have plenty to choose from.
On the other hand, Ana comments on the public transportation. Namely, she states that she always takes a taxi or CarGo, because the public transportation didn’t change at all. Although, she admits that on couple of occasions she got on a new bus, with a monitor which shows where the bus is headed, so she was pleasantly surprised.
Friendships for life
Ana states that everything changed when her father passed away, since she had a special father-daughter relationship with him. Since her father’s passing, her mother took up that fatherly role, and Ana says it can be somewhat tiresome when her mother is forcing her to eat more as if she was still a child.
Through Viber and Facebook, Ana always remained in contact with her godmother, best friend and friends from high school and university, while also trying to reconnect with her friends from Peru.
She remembers her friends in Serbia always telling her that she is staying too briefly, asking her to “come back for good”, and things like. Now she sees her friends all the time, something she wasn’t able to do with her friends in France or Austria. However, she believes that she doesn’t have many friends, claiming quality is better than quantity. Ana’s godfather wants to go abroad now, and Ana is trying to turn him away from that idea, but he refuses to listen, Ana claims.
Ana says that she has been hearing terrible stories about working in Serbian companies, how bosses treat their employees like slaves. Ana has had a brief collaboration with a domestic translation agency, but mostly works with an American agency. Ana claims she was lucky that not getting paid happened just a couple of times, because often she heard that people have difficulties when the time comes for them to be paid. Ana claims there was no difference between Serbia and France on that note.
It’s valuable to get the verified, experiential information, so she doesn’t inform herself directly through laws, but she reads analysis of the law and then compares it to the actual law. She went to the Agency for Business Registers, downloaded the document she needed, and was done with everything in the Agency within three days, which she assessed as a pleasant experience. After receiving the document stating the company was registered, she finished everything with the Tax Administration and Republican Pension and Disability Insurance Fund. Ana says she is a lawyer, therefore she has no issues with paperwork nor the amount of paperwork involved, but also admits that she doesn’t know whether someone without her experience would assess the process as easy.
Ana says she was happy because she finally became her own boss. Nobody was telling her she had a right to a 5-week vacation anymore. It suits her more to work for less money because the quality of life is much better than in France since she has more time for herself and her friends.
Vision of the future
Ana shared that her then-boyfriend, a returnee from Canada, said that he would like to go back to Canada. Ana said to him that she has just returned to her home, and that going anywhere is not an option for her.