Year of return: 2017
LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW
MOVED TO USA
STARTING A NEW CAREER
Vesna was forty-five at the time. She knew very little English and
had to restart her career all over starting as a salesperson at a store
to working in financial administration for pharmaceutical companies.
She and her family received the green cards shortly upon arrival and
had a good, stable life.
Vesna retired at the age of seventy. Her husband and
she felt that as they were going to be getting older
their quality of living will significantly decrease if they
stay in the States. They wondered what would have
happened if they were not able to ride a car. Their
daughter moved out of the USA, and there was little
to keep them there.
PREPARATIONS FOR THE RETURN
Preparations lasted for a year. Vesna remotely organized their
apartment renovation in Belgrade and listed their house in the USA
for sale. They hired a moving company to transfer their stuff.
Vesna was born in 1947 in Belgrade. She was working at a state-run company when a sudden embargo was imposed on Yugoslavia in 1992. Economic chaos caused the company severe losses and the CEO who she was working with closely advised Vesna to leave the country. She thought that the crisis wouldn’t last for a long time, no longer than three months perhaps, so she and her husband decided to temporarily move to her brother’s in the USA. They took their twelve-year-old daughter and the family dog.
Starting a new career
Vesna was forty-five at the time. She knew very little English and had to restart her career, starting as a salesperson at a store to working in financial administration for a medical office. She and her family received their green cards two years upon arrival and had a good, stable life.
Vesna retired at the age of seventy. She and her husband felt that as they got older their quality of living will significantly decrease if they remained in the States. They wondered what would happen if they were not able to ride a car. Their daughter moved out of the USA, and there was little to keep them there.
Returning to Serbia sounded like a good option. There were a few reasons for that. One was the easy mobility in Belgrade. In the USA Vesna was living 45 minutes away from the city center so she had to drive everywhere she went. She was afraid of not being able to drive anymore. In that case, she would be isolated from friends, stores, and other facilities and services. This is not the case in downtown Belgrade.
Another disadvantage in the USA was related to the healthcare system. It doesn’t provide safety for elderly people. Even though she had a good insurance policy, in case Vesna had to go to a nursing home, she would have had only few months covered.
Shortly after retiring, she felt that her routine became dull. She had a garden and enjoyed it for a while, but that didn’t keep her entertained for a long time. Vesna was striving for a better social life and higher accessibility to cultural and art events.
Preparations for the return
Preparations lasted for a year. Vesna came to Belgrade to arrange their apartment renovation. She remembers that it was an interesting experience. Her friend recommended an architect. They met once in the apartment. The architect asked only a few questions and Vesna wasn’t convinced with her choice of the architect but had no time to look for another. He was following renovations remotely. The lady who helped her design her new home and she were very different but managed to do a great job together even remotely. It was intense but very successful experienced through which she earned a very good friend.
In the meantime, Vesna listed their house in the USA for sale. They hired a moving company to transfer their things.
Life in Belgrade
After witnessing a very unpleasant situation when a man was driving a big black car in the pedestrian zone Vesa realized that Belgrade is full of a new generation of bullies. Belgrade is not as safe as it was and this makes her angry.
According to Vesna’s opinion not only that people have changed but the state and the public policies changed as well. City government is destroying the city heritage by renaming the streets and “reconstructions” with no plan, reason or true care for the citizens.
When talking about the politic Vesta mentioned that the pedestrian zone in the heart of Belgrade is being expanded and thus public transportation is being moved further away, leaving elderly people far from means of transportation.
With a foreign pension, Vesna is financially independent of the economic conditions in Serbia. However, she did have an unpleasant experience when she realized that banks in Serbia are not approving loans for to elder people.
Family and friends
Even though Vesna spent half of her life in the USA she was committed to maintaining and nurturing friendships with people from Serbia, so she had a wide social network when they came back. She sees her friends every day and they often go out. Vesna loves that living in the center of Belgrade makes culture and art events easily accessible for her and her friends.
She is happy with her daughter living abroad. Also, she is content for having provided an opportunity for her daughter to get an education and work in countries where her potential is realized and excellence recognized. Her daughter currently lives in Argentina and they visit each other often.
Institutions and administrative procedures
Vesna was pleasantly surprised that post-return administrative procedures were completed promptly. Nevertheless, she remembers that the customs procedures took a long time. Upon the arrival to Serbia, she and her husband had to wait for two weeks for the evaluation of their art artifacts.
Asked about the experience with the administration abroad, she remembers that different employees at the Serbian embassy in the USA often gave contradictory information. Also, documents were issued only in Cyrillic, and Vesna believes that this is possibly a big problem for Serbs raised abroad.
View of the future
Vesna is proud and happy about all of her life decisions. She is fully aware of both positive aspects and all of the disadvantages of living in Serbia. Still, she doesn't want to start another big life adventure, to learn a new language or move anywhere else as long as she can have a dynamic relationship with her daughter and a rich social and cultural life. After so many years she believes that coming back home was the right choice for her and her husband.