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Maria Kopileva
Maria Kopileva

Maria Kopileva has grown up in a suburb of Skopje and is a young ethnic Macedonian student at the Southeast European University in Tetovo. Career prospects and better conditions to study made her decide to pay for a private university degree and to travel several times a week from Skopje to Tetovo.

"Consultations, seminar papers, projects, everything is different; and the grading system is not just based on exams. There are better conditions to study at the Southeast European University than at the state university and the diploma is recognised worldwide."

For a young ethnic Macedonian like Maria, life on the university campus in Tetovo also ensures exposure to Macedonia's multi-ethnicity.

"It is interesting, there are students from all ethnicities, Serbs, Bosnians, Macedonians, Albanians. In my group I have Turkish students, two or three girls, Bosnians, and it is no problem."

Having decided to study at this university, set up after the conflict of 2001 primarily for ethnic Albanians, makes her belong to a new post-Ohrid Agreement generation. Maria dreams of a job in the public administration, preferable dealing with Europe and Macedonia's European integration. Twice a week she attends Albanian language classes, another novelty after the conflict and the Ohrid Agreement. In her parent's generation it is very hard to find any ethnic Macedonian who has learned Albanian.

"I am learning Albanian now and I am going to need it if I work here. Macedonian, Albanian and English."

For Maria and her generation, Europe is about reducing poverty, economic development, opportunities to do business with other countries and travelling.

"We are part of Europe and we want to be connected, not disconnected and isolated like right now."

May 2008

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