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Coronavirus Stories: University Students in Serbia Forced to Return Home Amid COVID-19 Lockdown

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Welcome back to Coronavirus Stories. A collection of short stories written by YOU, our readers from around the globe, sharing how their lives have been affected by COVID-19.

Today’s story is written by Lana Stefanović (insight also by Magdalena Matić), a violin player at the Music Academy in Belgrade. She shares her experience as a student in Serbia during the country’s COVID-19 lockdown. 

COVID-19 Emerges in Serbia


The truth is never permanent – perhaps because it has always been a lie.

Life in Serbia has never been an easy one. Power seeking people have been running this country for many years even now when their rust has reached every aspect of our lives. The ‘outburst’ of the Coronavirus made everything worse, politicians were given the opportunity to carry out their dictatorship at the pretense of following in the footsteps of other states.

COVID-19 was at first presented in Serbia as something we should make fun of and joke about, but as the lockdowns in other countries began, the funniest virus soon became the biggest threat to humanity. People had no idea what was the truth and who to believe at that point, considering the fact that the ’lead’ doctor laughed on national television about it and only a few days later the president almost burst into tears while declaring a state of emergency (15.03) Everything is like a dark comedy here.

Student Life On A Pause

Students leaving their dorms

The dorms were soon emptied forcing students to return to their homes, all over Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia….All those students who feared for the safety of their elderly parents and grandparents ironically had to go back from the focal points of the virus to the places and people who were, as experts said, at biggest risk. One could assume that the expansion of the corona virus has accelerated in this way, and another just might think the opposite.

Online lectures have now become more popular than ever replacing almost all live classes. This is something most students are not particularly happy about. Do you think that orchestra class is something that could properly function online? Well, if you think not, the students from the Music Academy in Belgrade, share your opinion, but sadly their professors do not.

A Race for Supplies

Homemade bread during lockdown

I suppose that lines for groceries are a bit bigger now everywhere, but when you are on lockdown several days in a row without being allowed to go out even for an hour, people tend to shop after and before even more. Well, Serbs do like to eat a lot.

That is an interesting topic to discuss. The experts in the countries where medicine is the most advanced like France, Germany, Sweden…all agreed that the virus spreads indoors much more than outdoors. But, experts in Serbia advise the government to close all open markets and to leave only big chain food stores (that btw have no windows) until 3 pm every day.

As the epidemic got worse they declared that no one would be allowed to leave their home and that nothing was going to work on weekends so, naturally for Serbian people, all have in panic and fear of hunger gotten out to buy food supplies at the same time, making the stores crowded and creating never-ending lines.

Life Has an Urge to Go On

Walking the streets of Belgrade

So, many things don’t function normally. Arrests without legally supported reasons have taken place, false information has always been spread throughout the media, but Serbian people don’t lose their spirit so easily. Families are grilling all the time (veganism has not yet found it’s rightful place in Serbia), the children love being able to play and be free from school.

Instead of cars constantly passing through the street, you can only hear dogs barking once in a while breaking the silence of the night. People are spending time as they wish, working out or not, making more food, or lists of diets. Still, it is important to know that family harmony and general life conditions have the greatest impact on the quality of time spent in this quarantine.

Wishing for an End

Re-opening the cafes

The situation is very slowly coming back to normal (as normal it can be considering that everybody will look like they have just gotten out of the hospital). People miss their daily routine, their jobs, their friends, well…they miss their lives. Many are preaching about taking this time to improve ourselves, make us better and connect to everything around us. But how can one see the true value of things when those values are being formed in this erratic world which by any means can not be compared to our regular lives.

I guess we are all just waiting for this to become history, one that no one wishes to be repeated.


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