Ivana Pantovic

Age: 44

Country: Argentina

Year of return: 2019

May 2019
June 2019
August 1st, 2019



May 2019


Crime rates were rapidly increasing over the last 10
years as the economy was being destroyed. She
remembers that only in June, there were more than 30
heists in their neighborhood. The breaking point was
when her eighty years old neighbor and her son got
severely beaten while the robbers were trying to steal
money from their house. Ivana decided that she couldn’t
allow herself to be the next target, so she decided to

June 2019

Ivana couldn’t do much to prepare herself for the return as she
abruptly decided to return. She quit her job and the next month she
was in Belgrade. Her sister helped her rent an apartment. Her
husband is staying in Argentina until he sells their house.

August 1st, 2019


In Belgrade, Ivana attended the faculty of Mining and Geology, but parallel to her studies she worked at RTS (Radio Television of Serbia). She started working there at 17 because economic situation was harsh and affected the family . Both her and her two sisters started working when they were very young. The fact that she was employed affected Ivana’s regularity of attending classes at university. In the early 1990s she moved to Argentina where she worked as Customer Relations and software platform Implementation manager for Coca Company and their Bottler operations. After 20 years she decided to return to Belgrade.

Violence and crime in Argentina

Ivana decided to return to Serbia when the second world’s highest inflation started to affect Argentina from 2007 to present. She describes it as the inflation that happened in Serbia in 1992 and 1993. Even though she bought a house in Argentina, the conditions in the country were getting worse and worse. Rampant violent crime whose victims are common citizens, became a very serious issue. Sometimes, in the neighborhood she lived in, there would be instances of people hijacking public buses and mugging people who were on the bus.  In one single year more than 30 armed robberies were recorded. In Argentina free movement of citizens is hampered – there are almost no cars in the streets, because thieves kill people to steal cars. The turning point for leaving Argentina was when her next door neighbors were robbed. The man living across from her had burglars in his home that robbed him and beat up his mother, a woman who was 80 years of age. When Ivana saw her neighbor all beat up she decided that was a place she no longer wanted to live in. In that moment, for Ivana, safety was the most important thing, as was getting away from violent crimes as soon as possible. Before she left, she tried to sell her house but due to inflation, that was a hard task. Change of job was the next step – she would have taken a job anywhere else in Europe or in America, but she still decided to return to Serbia and try and find a job in Belgrade. It is her wish to spend her entire life in Serbia, and her husband who is Argentinean also wants this. When she resigned at Coca-Cola, she stayed in Argentina for another month with her husband, and then took only the essentials with her and left for Belgrade.

Impressions of Serbia

When she returned to Serbia she noticed that a lot of people were talking ill of their country. Everybody thinks that life outside of Serbia is better and they all asked her why she had returned. What she would most like to do is tell all those people to go to Argentina and see for themselves what it was like. She thinks the quality of life in Serbia cannot be compared to the quality of life in, say, Germany but she has been over the moon since she returned. She has had no problems – there are no shootings in Serbia and no one wants to rip her off when giving her change back. She thinks that in Serbia there is no crime that affects the ordinary citizen – she still hasn’t heard of anyone being shot at for their wallet or anyone having their apartment burgled and their wives raped. Compared to Argentina, for her, living in Serbia is akin to a spa experience.

Job hunt

Ivana has already had some job interviews in Serbia, and she didn’t prepare much for them, since she was sick of everything.  Previously, she applied for 20 positions in one week and received no callbacks. The situation regarding the job hunt is complicated and depressing at times because she doesn’t know anyone in Serbia and for now is looking at the official job postings when looking for job interviews. The position she held at Coca-Cola in Argentina unfortunately does not exist in Serbia nor Europe.  Her husband is in the military and in the future when he comes to Serbia he will try to find work in companies that create video surveillance systems for Spain and Canada. He will most certainly try to find a job that requires knowledge of Spanish.

Administration and paperwork

In Serbia, Ivana had no advantages with regards to employment, since she had no right to be on the record at the Job centre or had any right to health insurance.  She had to pay for her own health insurance. A new ID was easy to get within 2 days. The police department did not make things hard on her, all she had to do was bring her Argentinean ID so they could put on record where she had been living in the previous years. As far as administration goes, there were no problems. The only difficulty she had was having to wait for her marriage to be legally recognized in Serbia so her husband could get his visa and be able to stay in Serbia for longer than a month.

Friendships and family ties

After returning to Serbia, Ivana felt the need to connect in some way to the people around her. She became a member of a Facebook group through which she might acquire acquaintances.  In addition to this she became a member of the group Polyglot which gathers every Thursday at Balkanska Street. These gatherings are also very significant for networking. She has two sisters – one lives in Sweden and she doesn’t get to see her very often, and her other sister was very helpful when she first arrived from Argentina. She knows she can count on her sister in any situation. Their parents are very old and she cannot rely on them.  She thinks that friendships in Serbia are honest and that they are not made according to how useful someone is to you. She has four good friends she has known from before and is still friends with today. They are unable to help her regarding employment as they are not in the same line of work, but they are each other’s support system and give each other emotional support.