On the first of August 2014 I moved from the Netherlands to Serbia. I can see you thinking, what, Serbia ? Yes, Serbia, a landlocked country located in the heart of the Balkans. I started to live with my Serbian wife in Belgrade, the capital of Serbia. In those two years I have learned a lot about this magnificent country. I traveled a lot to Serbia before, but a real insight in the country you get of course when you live here.
Here are 10 most significant things I have learnt about the Serbs & Serbia:
1) Serbs are curious & friendly:
Since I have been living here I have only met friendly people (99,9 % of them), the Serbs are really friendly towards foreigners. Whenever I need to talk to them for the first time, they would start asking me questions like “where are you from?” , “what are you doing here?”, “do you like Serbia?”. Positive curiosity I call it and nothing is wrong with it. When you see them for the second time they will remember you positively: the Serbs are definitely curious and friendly.
2) Serbia has beautiful nature:
Serbia has beautiful nature with mountains, rivers, caves, canyons, plains, wetlands and much more. I have already known it , but since I have been living here I have discovered more and more and I keep on discovering new beautiful places.
3) Serbs are inventive:
The Serbs are really inventive. Everybody has heard of Nikola Tesla (yes a Serb) who was a great inventor. It seems I am living in a country with a lot of Teslas: for every circumstance the Serbs will find a solution or at least a temporary solution. I have already experienced it, I was on the edge of freaking out, but hey, here there are always the Serbs around who will offer a simple working solution. In my old home country, the Netherlands a broken bus door would already be a reason to cancel the bus service. In a Serbian bus they just put a huge stone to hold the door and nobody gives a damn: it works, so problem solved -next-.
4) Serbs are enjoying life:
The Serbs are masters in enjoying life. The economic situation in this country is not so good and people are really struggling to survive, but somehow they try to make the best out of it. Don’t be surprised when you hear cheerful music on a place and at time which you will not expect. When there is something to celebrate they will celebrate it with all the means they have available.
5) Serbian food is delicious:
Serbian food is delicious! I started to eat much better since I am living here (my wife is proud of it). I did not like everything from the beginning, but more and more I am appreciating the food. Recently I started to like so called “svadbarski kupus” (=wedding cabbage), the next step will be the famous Serbian “sarma”. Yeah, ok way to go still 😉
6) Serbs have another definition of time:
The Serbs definitely have another definition of time. Serbian minutes do not have 60 seconds, I think they have at least 120 seconds. The outcome of this is that the Serbs are almost always late: when you have a meeting at 13h00 for sure that meeting will not start before 13h15. Another side effect is that when a Serb tells you ” in 5 minutes”, for sure it will happen in 10 minutes or 15 minutes or 20 minutes… For sure the South-European mentality had reached Serbia, before the first trains arrived (which were too late obviously) …
7) Nema problema versus mnogo problema:
When a Serb tells you ” nema problema” (no problem) it can mean that you actually have “mnogo problema” (=a lot of problems). For sure you will hear “samo polako” (=relax, slow down) in this context, which means your problems will probably not be solved soon. Then it is time to go to point 3 of this blog (be inventive as a Serb) and if that does not help you can directly go to point 4: samo polako (enjoy life) 😉 !
8) Serbs are loud:
When the Serbs talk they do that pretty loud. Even when I did not live here I had already noticed it. Once when I heard a conversation in Serbian I thought that they were fighting, but actually they told me they were just having a normal conversation. I could not believe it back then, but now I do.
9) Serbian sunsets are beautiful:
For sure there are other places in the world where sunsets are also beautiful, but I like them here, especially in the winter.
10) “Promaja” can kill Serbs:
A classical remark which you can find almost in every post about Serbia (or the Balkans) and I have mentioned this also many times: “promaja” (Serbian for draft) can kill. I use this knowledge nowadays in a more effective manner: if a Serb is bothering me I will arrange some promaja. Once a colleague arranged me some promaja and I freaked out: I am getting slowly but surely used to living in Serbia 😉
After two years living in Serbia I can still say that I am happy to live here 🙂 !