Zachary Greenwald, a third-year Northeastern student, admits when he first arrived in Belgrade, Serbia, he was a little uncomfortable. “It’s a really big change going to a different country where people are speaking a completely different language,” he says. He had gotten lost in Belgrade many times. He had to ask strangers about food products in grocery stores because he couldn’t read or find anything familiar. And then there was a big difference in political climate—Greenwald detected a general pro-Russia and anti-NATO sentiment in Serbian society.
Once he started talking more to individuals, however, and made friends of his own age—both among Serbs and Russians who had fled Russia due to its aggression in Ukraine—he realized that he had nothing to worry about. People understood that he was much more than just an U.S. citizen and did not necessarily agree with all of America’s foreign policy, just like a Russian individual didn’t necessarily support the Kremlin’s foreign policy, too.