During July 2021, I experienced an exchange in North Macedonia. Why Macedonia? For me it was a country that I would probably not choose to visit during a vacation or travelling during holidays. I figured this would be a great opportunity to visit and explore their land and traditions.
The first step to attend this exchange was filling out the necessary documents. I had no problems with that, they did not require any additional vaccination (except for covid vaccine) so I was soon ready to go. My exchange took place in the capital city of North Macedonia – Skopje. There was a direct flight from Bratislava to Skopje, which took only 1 hour and 30 minutes so it was really fast and comfortable. When I arrived in Skopje, there were exchange officers waiting for me at airport to take me to dormitory. Me and 6 other girls were staying in high school dormitory for the whole month, which was located near the hospital.
I arrived during the weekend, so I spent my first days in Skopje exploring the city. There is a beautiful city centre with huge monuments and also some historical buildings. On monday we met with one of the exchange officers who took us to the hospital and introduced us to our departments. I chose to attend the department of Neurosurgery because for me it is one of the most interesting fields and I was looking forward to learn more about surgeries in this field or even assist during these difficult surgeries. We all got our own mentor, with whom spent the whole month. My mentor was a doctor specialised in Neurosurgery. He explained all of his surgeries to me, took time to answer all of my questions and tried to get me involved as much as possible. Everyone in the department was extremely kind and helpful and the whole department was new and modern. My experience in the hospital was really great and I am thankful, that at least for a month, I could be a part of that team.
In our free time, we were exploring not only the city but also its surrounding nature. There is a really beautiful hike to Mount Vodno, from which you can see the whole city. We got to see the beauty of Canyon Matka located half an hour from Skopje. There are many traditional restaurants, named Kafana, where we went to enjoy the traditional food of Macedonia. It was a really pleasant time spent eating delicious food along with live balkan music playing in the background. One of the biggest cities in Macedonia, Ohrid, which is located just 2 hours from Skopje is definitely a place to go while staying in Macedonia. Unfortunately, I did not get to visit this city but every Macedonian would 100% recommend visiting it because of its beautiful big lake and splendid city. It has been referred to as a „Jerusalem of the Balkans“, because of the many churches located in the city.
I am really thankful and glad that I chose to spend this month in North Macedonia. I met great people and gained a lot of knowledge in my department. I have only good memories and positive thoughts about this exchange, only one imperfection comes to mind and that is lack of social programme with exchange officers in Macedonia. If you want to explore the Macedonia and its traditions you have to do it on your own or with the fellow exchange students. However, they were all kind and helpful and gave us recommendations on where to go, what to visit. I definitely recommend everyone to spent an exchange month in Macedonia. It was an extraordinary experience.