THE CAREER of Serbian actress Svetlana Bojkovic has spanned nearly 40 years in television, film, and most importantly, theatre. She is the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award Dobricin Prsten, and is regarded as one of the great ladies of the Serbian cultural scene. She currently calls Helsinki home, and is here not on an acting engagement, but in a somewhat different capacity – as the wife of the Serbian ambassador to Finland, Slavko Kruljevic.A Serbian theatre legend in our midst.

You and your husband got married in 2011, and since last year you’ve been living in Helsinki. Are you enjoying life in Finland so far?

Yes, especially because living here is as if you were in two different places in one year – there’s the long winter, the spring that goes by very quickly, and then the beautiful summer. Although I’ve needed some time to adjust to the idea of living in Helsinki, this is our second year here and nowadays the atmosphere of the city seems to me more intimate, beautiful, and pleasant, and I’m really enjoying my life here.

In addition, since I have not taken on any acting engagements, I now have enough time to read and visit museums and cultural events.

How active is your cultural life in Helsinki?

When it comes to theatre, I’ve encountered a language barrier, so I can only watch the plays whose contents I am familiar with, which means the classics. This city is very rich in cultural activities, not just in classical music, but all other genres of music, like jazz. One could go to a cultural event every day in Helsinki, so my days are filled with various activities, from cultural events to nature walks.

As for my acting engagements, not long ago I performed a sold-out performance in Stockholm with two colleagues, and we eventually added two more dates due to high interest in the play. The name of the play loosely translates to Girl Talk. In the fall, we will perform it in Gothenburg and Malmö.

The Finnish government offers a lot of financial support to the artistic and cultural sectors.

I believe that the budget for education and culture is 12 per cent of Finland’s GDP, which is a significant amount. My husband’s son is very happy with the education here. He is doing his Master’s degree in aerospace engineering at Aalto University, and really likes the way that university education is conducted. In fact, my husband and I recently hosted the aide of the Serbian Minister of Education who came here to study the organisation of the Finnish education system from primary to the post-secondary level. And she, like people from many other countries in the world, concluded that there is a good reason why Finland is considered to have one of the best education systems in the world.

Education in Serbia is quite different than in Finland, how do you see these differences?

Unfortunately, that’s true. Serbia has a problem with rampant poverty and the country is experiencing a financial crisis, but regardless of that, improving the education system should become a priority to our government. What is important to understand is that culture shouldn’t be thought of as an entity that is entirely separate from education, because those two spheres go together. We truly need to work on improving the collective spiritual being of our society, because if the cultural and educational sectors are strong, that will be reflected in the well-being of the economy. A strong cultural and educational background is essential to the healthy development of a society.

I spoke about how impressed I am with the education system in Finland, but it’s not just the education sector that works well – it is noticeable in all organisational aspects of this society, even the smaller ones. For instance, I am fascinated by the snow removal system here. The snow is collected daily, as soon as it starts to accumulate. The workers have snow machines that look to me like oversized toys, so the crews are well equipped and, as a result, do their jobs efficiently.



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