Serbia Group – Day 1

Zdravo! Welcome to the blog for the Serbian Danube group!

At 9.30 this morning, Logan Hall was filled with undergraduate students from across UCL’s wide range of faculties, each ready to embark on one of the programme’s seven varied and exciting pathways. The emphasis that UCL places on global citizenship was underlined by the speeches given by the Provost Michael Arthur and Vice Provosts Dame Nicola Brewer and Anthony Smith and by Tim Beasley-Murray. We were encouraged to really think about what it means to be a ‘global citizen’ and how our actions and lifestyles have an effect on people and communities across the world.

After lunch, everyone following the Danube pathway reconvened and we were welcomed to the programme by Eszter Tarsoly and Tim Beasley-Murray. As well as practical information regarding the course, we were introduced to the idea of the Danube as a paradoxical entity as the river, which is simultaneously old and new, and both a benign and malign force, linking and dividing cultures and communities.

Next was our first Serbian language lesson. After a little confusion regarding rooms (why does the engineering building have two room 1.04s!?), we all got stuck in to learning about the Serbian language which can be written in either Cyrillic or the Latin alphabet. Although the idea of learning the Cyrillic alphabet is somewhat daunting, the Latin transliterations help a lot as Serbian is written phonetically. Today we learned basic greetings such as Zdravo! meaning “hello”, how to introduce ourselves, e.g. Ja sam Beth “my name is Beth”, and a variety of other words we may find useful over the course of our project such as reka/река “river”, most/мост “bridge” and hvala/хвала “thank you”.

Finally, we spent an hour in our group with our navigator Philip getting to know each other a bit more. We also had to start thinking about how we are going to go about achieving the objectives over the next two weeks – producing a poster explaining the area around the Danube which falls under the Serbian jurisdiction, a documentary film on the lives of Serbian people who have settled or are in the process of settling in the UK, a presentation at a conference explaining our take on the what it means to be a global citizen, and keeping up with this blog! We have sorted ourselves into groups and have assigned leaders for each task.

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