BRINGING THE LOCAL AND EU PERSPECTIVES CLOSER FOR BETTER INTEGRATION - WeBalkans | EU Projects in the Western Balkans

BRINGING THE LOCAL AND EU PERSPECTIVES CLOSER FOR BETTER INTEGRATION

A woman from Bosnia and Herzegovina uses her international Erasmus experience to bring local and EU perspectives together

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Amela studied nursing in high school. As she was a very good student, she had the option to study medicine and become a doctor. However, soon after finishing high school her plans for future profession began to take on a different shape. “I realised that if I continued at the medical faculty this would mean another six years of hard work and study. I was young and was looking for more life experience, so I decided to take a one-year break,” she says.

The original plan for a one-year break was prolonged by another five years. She began working at her brother’s bakery then moved to the United States, worked as a photographer and then travelled back to Europe and worked as a private governess in Switzerland and a private English language teacher in Germany. Amela says she appreciated this experience very much as it broadened her cultural perspective and taught her a lot about life. She also really enjoyed the international working environment.

“The experience abroad proved that I was good at making connections, and in addition I could now speak foreign languages confidently”

Returning home

On returning to Bosnia and Herzegovina she finished her nursing internship but with all her international experience she was not sure that she wanted to work as a nurse or study medicine anymore. Her experiences during the break made her professional aspirations take a totally different direction. “The six-year experience abroad proved that I was good at making connections, and in addition I could now speak foreign languages confidently. So I decided to study international relations at Sarajevo University,” Amela says.

From her international experience she also knew that the level of education in EU universities was better than in Bosnia and Herzegovina. So when she came across an opportunity from ERASMUS + to complete part of her studies in an EU country she had no hesitation in applying. Through the Erasmus student exchange programme she had the opportunity to study one semester in France and another in Lithuania.

Going abroad again

Amela describes the experience with Erasmus as “amazing”. In terms of quality she was most impressed with the access to libraries and resources that were all digital, with many more sources and richer content available than she was used to. “It is something that we really lack here in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” she says.

Something else that made an impression on Amela was the open professional relationship between students and professors. Amela explains that In Bosnia and Herzegovina, especially in state universities there is a strict hierarchy between the student and the professor. “Here, your opinion is not taken into consideration because you are just a student, but in the universities in Lithuania and France my opinion was considered and appreciated. That was a huge benefit,” she says.

“I am from Bosnia but I also feel quite European. Because of my professional and life experience, I am able to consider both perspectives”

Having seen all that could be gained from an Erasmus experience, when Amela graduated she applied to do her Master’s studies through Erasmus too. She is currently completing an Erasmus Mundus joint Master’s degree in Leipzig and Vienna. “I am from Bosnia, but I also feel quite European. Because of my professional and life experience I am able to consider both perspectives and this could be very useful,’ Amela says.

Her plan is to work in an EU institution on graduation. Amela believes that in some cases there is a missing link regarding the EU integration of Bosnia and Herzegovina. This missing link is the local perspective. According to her, the integration at government level is moving successfully but the same cannot be said for integration at the level of the people. “I would be delighted to contribute to this. That is why I chose a Master’s programme called ‘Global Studies – European Perspective’ where I can bring the global and local together,” she says.

Photo credits: Amela Brćaninovič