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 learning conditions made her decide to pay for a private university education 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."
Her decision to study at the university in Tetovo, set up after the conflict of 2001 primarily for ethnic Albanians, makes Maria part of a new post-Ohrid Agreement generation. Maria dreams of a job in the public administration, preferably dealing with Europe and Macedonia's European integration. Twice a week she attends Albanian language classes, yet another novelty after the conflict and the Ohrid Agreement. Among her parents' generation, it is very hard to find any ethnic Macedonians who have studied or 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, ensuring economic development, foreign business opportunities, and travel.
"We are part of Europe and we want to be connected – not disconnected and isolated like right now."
Toni Kitanovski is a well known Macedonian jazz guitarist from Skopje. He studied music in the United States from 1990 to 1997 and graduated from the Berklee (sic) College of Music. He collaborated with the likes of Charlie Mariano, attended composition seminars with Luciano Berio and György Ligeti, and composed for well-known American jazz ensembles like the Herb Pomeroy Orchestra and the Greg Hopkins Big-Band.
When Kitanovski returned to Skopje in 1997, he set up his own band, "Luna". As a soloist, bandleader, composer and arranger he performs at many festivals, concerts and clubs. In 1998 he released his first CD, "One for Charlie", followed in 2001 by "Duet", his seminal album. Kitanovski also founded the Skopje Jazz and Contemporary Music School.
One of his reasons for coming back to Skopje was the breadth and diversity of the domestic music scene.
"Turkish music is famous worldwide; there are the old songs, but modern compositions are also played. The Roma play everything: Arab, Turkish and Macedonian songs. The Albanians play only Albanian music and the Macedonians are again very open to different music; there are no strict lines, just like in Roma music…the orthodox Macedonians receive the music as it is and accept it."