Work and Travel in Serbia
VOLUNTEER AND PAID WORK OPPORTUNITIES IN SERBIA FOR TRAVELLERS
Serbia is a nation with a long and troubled history. But it’s also a magnet for backpackers who flock to the heart of the former Yugoslavian state. Many of them fall in love with the party scenes of Belgrade and the rich gypsy culture in the country.
If you’re looking for volunteer opportunities in Serbia, recent events have thrown up more openings than ever before. So if you’re ready to work and travel in Serbia you’re in the right place.
This travel guide to Serbia is going to show you the possibilities available to adventurous travellers right now.
1. Help Refugees on the Serbian Border
Serbia’s position in the heart of the Balkans has made it one of the main migrant routes for refugees fleeing wars in Africa and the Middle East. As you travel in Serbia, consider providing help to refugees found here.
Most refugee camps in Serbia want your help, whether you have specialist skills or not. The majority are on the borders with Serbia, but you can find them in many cities as well, including in the capital Belgrade.
2. Stay with the Gypsy Community in Western Serbia
Guca is well-known as the place for the famous gypsy brass bands that gather there every year. Get an insight into this rich culture as you backpack in Serbia by organising a homestay with the gypsy community.
Many of them are open to outsiders and you’ll get a first-hand insight into how they live and the history of this persecuted people.
If you don’t mind mixing with animals and working hard to keep everything running smoothly in these often temporary homesteads, this is the ideal volunteering opportunity in Serbia for you.
3. Teach English in Belgrade
Serbia’s young community is quickly turning towards Western culture and many younger people want to learn English. Teach English in Serbia and you’ll meet genuine locals and make a real difference in their lives.
This is what work and travel in Serbia is all about and you don’t need prior qualifications to make this work. All you need as a native English speaker is a desire to teach.
However, a TEFL qualification will give you access to paid work in Serbia through high schools and universities.
VOLUNTEER WORK VISA / PERMIT REQUIREMENTS FOR SERBIA
Don’t make the mistake of assuming that to work and travel in Serbia you’ll be able to take advantage of the European Union (EU). Serbia has merely applied to join the organisation but there’s no timetable for the country meeting the requirements of joining the common travel zone.
Thankfully, Serbia largely copies the Schengen Zone visa policy and provides visas-on-arrival to the majority of countries. These include the UK, the whole of the EU, North America, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and South Korea.
Take note that Serbia also provides a visa-on-arrival to Russian citizens at no charge, but this is only valid for 30 days, compared to the 90 days for everyone else.
All African nations, including South Africa, will have to apply for a visa in advance.
SEASONAL BACKPACKER SKILLS NEEDED IN SERBIA
Spring in Serbia is an ideal time to help in the refugee camps. At this time of year many refugees are on the move after stopping for the winter and there’s a great need for volunteers to deal with the increased capacity.
Take note Serbia doesn’t treat its refugees with kindness and their survival is largely down to volunteers and the work of international charities.
This is the perfect time of year to be in the country as volunteering opportunities in Serbia are available all over the place. In the cities you’ll find that hostels want to take on international volunteers. Many gypsy festivals and homestays are available to travellers.
You can also join in with the summer camps for Serbian children and teens. These could be English teaching camps or simply sports camps. Football camps are extremely popular in the summer.
If you want to teach English in Serbia you should think about attempting to find work throughout the autumn. It’s possible to find this work during the summer, but many families choose to employ private tutors when the new school year is about to start.
Backpackers in Serbia with formal qualifications should consider applying to educational institutions in advance of autumn, as this is when these positions tend to start.
This is the best season for finding paid work in Serbia.
Serbia gets extremely cold in winter and it’s when the majority of travellers leave the country. But if you want to work and travel in Serbia throughout the colder months of the year you’ll still be able to find work.
Head to the south of the country, where you’ll find ski resorts like Kopaonik and Zlatibor. Some foreigners with prior experience in ski instruction have found work in the past.
Typically, if you manage to pick up this type of work it will nearly always be paid work. Since you’ll be working with authentic companies, you’ll need to make sure you organise your work visas well in advance.
ATTITUDE TO FOREIGNERS WORKING OR VOLUNTEERING IN SERBIA
Serbia is a country that’s both welcoming yet extremely sensitive in equal measure. Generally, you can expect the traditional Balkan welcome. Serbians, especially older ones, are curious about foreigners and the chances are you’ll be invited to share some rakija.
But you must bear in mind that the wounds of the past are still open. Mentions of the war against Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia are extremely sensitive issues that should be avoided.
There’s also a lot of hatred against the refugees and Turks in general. Again, this is fuelled by recent events and past conflicts. It’s best to avoid political talk entirely.
However, working and volunteering in Serbia should come easy and the locals will more likely to be curious as to why you chose Serbia than anything else.
Do you have what it takes to work and travel in Serbia?
- Edited on May 22 2018 by Roman