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American Expat in Serbia: What I Miss About the USA


Many folks will say ” Charles, You are an American in Serbia for over 6 years now. What do you miss the most about the USA?”. If I had to make a list of things that I miss about my life in the US, it would look something like this:

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1. Being on the same continent as your family and old friends

It’s very hard to be away from home when a tragedy hits. I’ve been unable to attend the funeral of an old friend, the funerals of some family members and the funerals of some of my friends’ family members. I’ve also missed some very important weddings, birthdays and reunions all while living 8k kilometers from home. I get cheap airline tickets because of my job, but 600 euros is still a lot to shell out when you live in Serbia. That amount nearly covers 4 months of my rent and bills.

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2. English language

It’s not always easy being an American expat in a country where English isn’t the native language. There are times when I get so absolutely frustrated with myself for not being able to explain some simple thing to someone. It’s annoying to have to buy a newspaper and slowly translate the meanings in your head. The same is true with listening to the radio or news broadcasts. It’s also tough to be sitting on a bus or waiting in a line and not being able to fully “shoot the shit” with the person next to you. When I’m sitting in a public place, I tend to let Serbian language blur together but the second I hear an English conversation, my ears perk up and I find myself eavesdropping on them. It’s my fault for not being fluent at this time, but i’m working on it.

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3. Mexican food and convenient fast food places

I absolutely adore Tex-Mex cuisine. It’s different from the authentic Mexican food that I had while living in Mexico for 1.5 years as it’s more aimed at American taste buds. There isn’t much that can beat a chicken chimichanga smothered in cheese sauce with a nice margarita and nacho chips. We have very few Mexican restaurants in Serbia. They are pretty good, but the taste just isn’t the same. I also miss having an unlimited supply of fast food places like : Wendy’s, Subway, Taco Bell, Burger King, Rally’s, and the buffet places like Denny’s, IHOP, etc. Serbian rostilj is super duper in taste and quality, but I like being able to eat a different fast food place each day. That’s what us fat folks enjoy .

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4. Clothing that fits

Serbian people don’t have an issue with obesity. The vast majority of the population is always out walking around town, riding bikes, and not just sitting on their butts eating junk food. That being said, it’s hard for a chubby (200lb) guy like myself to find shirts  that fit. I can walk into 5 or 6 different clothing stores and find very few shirts that will comfortably fit me. The fashion over here is slim fit EVERYTHING! Slim fit looks good on those who have a six pack, but it doesn’t on those of us with a barrel. It’s also annoying to buy pants in most of the stores here because the legs are way too tight and they have limited length sizes. You can’t usually find 29″ or 30″ with a size 34 waist. You have to buy them longer and bring them to a little store for a lady to cut them and hem them up. I had the same problems in Mexico. When you complain to a Serbian or a Mexican about it, they think you are nuts or just plain lazy. I like to buy something that’s ready to wear, not something I have to have altered.

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5. Free public toilets

If you are from the US, you are probably scratching your head at this one. You take for granted the ability to stop at any fast food place or public toilet and go without paying a silly fee. It’s not like it’s a lot of money, but it’s the principle of the thing. You must purchase something at McDonalds in Serbia so you can get a restroom code to open the door. If you go to the bus station or any other public toilet, you must pay some Gypsy person 40-80 dinars to use a filthy bathroom.

With all that being said, I would still rather live in Serbia. It’s a more cheerful,lively, fun, relaxed and enjoyable place. It doesn’t matter how small the town is, they have outdoor cafe after outdoor cafe, large walking streets for pedestrians only, people walking and biking at all hours of the day or night, quality food, nightlife that goes 24/7 Mon-Sun, beautiful people, and no strict laws on smoking and drinking in public.

Do you like me so much that you feel like donating? I do accept tips! 🙂 Everyone has told me for years that I should put a donation button on my blog, but I think it makes you lose credibility. I’ve been talking about Serbia for nearly 7 years and have only done it out of love, but if you are so dead set on giving me a tip, I promise I’ll use it wisely. 🙂  My Paypal is charlesserbia@gmail.com. 
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Posted by on May 7, 2017 in Through my eyes, USA vs Serbia

 

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The World Media’s Assault on Serbia


 

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We’ve all heard about the crimes that Serb troops committed in Bosnia, Croatia and in Kosovo I Metohija. I’m sure some of the acts we heard and read about in the western media were true, while many of them were intentionally fabricated. Don’t get me wrong, any crime committed is a horrible thing and should be investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice, but be fair!

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One example of media fabrication  would be the claim that Serbs were setting up concentration camps in Bosnia and starving the victims. This  American gentleman explains the photo in detail in this short Youtube clip.

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What about the Croats cleansing hundreds of thousands of Serbs from their birthplace? Why didn’t my media bombard me with newspaper headlines and news stories about that?

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Serbs Being Forced out of Croatia

The Serbs have been tried and convicted for war crimes in the Hague at an alarming rate. Did former Croat general Ante Gotovina and ex-special police chief Mladen Markac receive just punishment for the atrocities committed against ethnic Serbs during Operation Storm in 1995? Nope…..

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Albanian ripping cross off of a Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo

What about the Albanians destroying hundreds of homes and over 100+ churches? Did any of that make the headlines in my country? Nope….. They were friends of the US and NATO and we were about to make a lot of money off of their new “country”. Bill Clinton couldn’t allow Americans to see pics and video of our “friend” and “ally” ripping crosses off of churches. The people might have started asking a few more questions if they had.

The media doesn’t want to talk about that stuff, but they never take a break from finding things that could make the Serbs look bad.

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Take the Serb football fans who chanted derogatory things at that Brazilian football player for instance, that made headlines in every corner of the globe.  It’s sad and uncalled for, but you can’t judge an entire nation by the words of a few football fans! If we judged every nation’s citizens by the acts of football fans, you’d probably think the world was filled with demons.

Serbia shouldn’t be labeled as a country of “racists”. It’s just not true. The U.S. and England aren’t ones that should be pointing fingers and calling anyone racist. If I remember correctly, both of them took part in the slave trade. Slavery wasn’t outlawed in the United States until 1863. Hell, Blacks couldn’t even vote until the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  Did Serbia ever have slaves? No!

I’m not black so it makes little sense for me to sit here and tell you that Serbia isn’t a racist country. You should listen to some of my friends who are:

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Sheriff is a young man from Liberia who has been living in Norway for a number of years. I was able to sit down with him and ask him some questions about Serbia and if he had any issue with racism.

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Arthur is another good friend of mine. He’s an American from the great state of New Jersey. He just completed his 6 trip to Serbia and will be back in May for his 7th. Has he experienced any racism? Listen to him and find out.

 

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Dara is a lovely gal who lives in Ireland. She contacted me before her first visit with some concerns about being black in Serbia. She took the leap and loved every second of it! Here is my interview with her.

12936611_10105593675346795_5534105201918857505_nHeather is a beautiful young lady from the state of Louisiana. She has spent the last few summers in Serbia and has never had any negative situations. She said that Serbian people sometimes stare at her, but it’s a stare of curiosity, not a stare of contempt like happens in some places in the US.

There are more folks, but I didn’t get their permission to write about them. One is an African American gal who married a Serbian in a small village here in Vojvodina. She lives with her children and Serbian husband in a tiny village and has no issues with racism. There are tons of African American football players who come here each year and have nothing but great things to say about the hospitality and kindness of the Serbian people.

I’ve been living in this country for close to 6 years now and the media bias is so blatantly obvious. I’m always asking my Serbian friends how they can keep their cool and not let that get to them. It would be hard to have the whole world accusing you and vilifying you all the time. One of my friends said it best “We have gotten used to it. F*** the rest of the world. We have good looking women, good food, and great nightlife. We don’t need their approval”

 
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Posted by on March 5, 2017 in Through my eyes

 

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Top 10 Things I miss About Living in Novi Sad, Serbia


 

My beautiful picture

It’s only been two months since I left Serbia, but i’m already missing a few things. I’m spending the summer on the island of Nantucket off the coast of Massachusetts with 8 of my Serbian students to see how they work and to make some money. One of my students from Novi Sad was even featured in BLIC for his awesome  summer experience. My return flight to Serbia is scheduled for Sept 17th when I fly from NYC to Amsterdam to Belgrade. I’ll be back just in time for the world’s largest work and travel conference which will be held in Belgrade. Work and Travel Group is one of the two representatives from Serbia who will be organizing this massive event. I’ll be giving a presentation to over 600 representatives from work and travel offices all over the world.

The boys and I are constantly discussing what we miss the most about Serbia so I thought i’d throw together a quick list of the things that I miss about Serbia. Let’s get started:

10. Srpski Sir

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I’m a big fan of cheese and Serbia is home to lots of it! We have a lot of cheeses here, but the homemade stuff you find in Serbia can’t be beat. I know an American who flew to Serbia to do a documentary on cheese. From Pirot to Zlatibor to Sijenica to Vojvodina, they have awesome cheeses!

 

9. Living alone in my $130 mo apartment 

 

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I moved into my own apartment when I was 17 and only had a roommate once in my life. It’s very difficult to go from living alone to living with 6 others. I have my own room, but feel so uncomfortable having so many others in my house. You don’t know when you can use the washing machine, bathroom, when you can cook and how quiet you must be. I pay $800 a month here in Nantucket for this accommodation, while my little apartment in the heart of Novi Sad was only $130 a month.

 

8. Pekara

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Who would think you would really miss a bakery? Well….. I sure as hell do. In Serbia, you are never more than a few blocks from a bakery filled with fresh burek, jogurt, and bread. You can’t go wrong with a 100 dinar slice of burek on your way to work.

 

7. Trafika

 

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We have a lot of 24/7 stores throughout the USA, but not here on the island of Nantucket. The 24/7 trafikas in Novi Sad really had me spoiled. If you needed a soda, chips, sweets or phone credits at 4 am, no problem. The stores close at 10 here so if you forgot something, too bad.

 

6. Ajvar

 

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The first time I tried this stuff, I hated it. That was back in 2010 and now it’s one thing that I eat on a daily basis. You will find many Serbians growing lots and lots of peppers. They use them to prepare one of the most delicious condiments on the globe. You can find it in some American stores, but nothing beats the homemade ajvar that my friends bring me each fall.

 

5. Sasa Matic 

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Sasa has turned into one of my favorite Serbians.   This man has one of the most beautiful voices I’ve ever heard. It took me a few years to get into the Serbian folk music scene, but i’m there. My favorite songs are : Kad Ljubav Zakasni, Nadji Novu Ljubav, Kralj Izgubljenih Stvari, Samo Ovu Noc, Reskiraj, Poklonite Mi Nju Za Rodjendan and almost anything else that comes out of his mouth. I listen to him each morning and on my IPOD, but miss hearing him in the bars and kafanas. My buddy is going to do his best to meet me with him.

4. Nightlife

 

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The USA has some great nightlife in certain places, but not 7 days a week like you can find in many parts of Serbia. They just recently passed an ordinance in Novi Sad that has limited the hours, but it still beats Nantucket. The Serbian people like to party and you will find the bars full  Mon-Sunday. That’s not the case here. I like to go out for a few beers after work, but many of these bars in Nantucket close at 11 or 12. The majority are almost empty after 10pm through the week. The crowds give me a burst of energy and keep me from feeling like an alcoholic. 🙂

 

3. Prices

 

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You wouldn’t believe how hard it is to go from Serbia to Nantucket which is one of the most expensive places in the USA. My average meal in a little restaurant is around $40. That usually includes a couple beers and main course. The beer is $7 in the bar that I like to go. A Serb, Macedonian and I went to this little bar by my house the other night. In one hour, we had a bill of $134!!  In Novi Sad, I could go out and have an amazing time on 1,000 dinars. Horus Nargile Bar is my daily hangout. I can smoke a nargile, drink a shot of rakija, two beers and still be under 1000. Living in Serbia with American money, can’t be beat.

 

 

 

2. Serbian summer festivals

belgrade-beer-fest-2013-reggae-rs1-950x532Serbia is home to some of the best festivals. They have Belgrade Beer Festival in Belgrade, Guca Trumpet Festival, Exit Festival in Novi Sad, Nisville Jazz Fest in Nis, Rostiljada in Leskovac,  and many many more. There is always something going on during the Serbian summer months.

 

 
1. Rostilj

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You wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve dreamed of a big mixed meat platter with kajmak. The boys all miss the hell out of their meat. The first thing I’m going to do when I return on Sept 17th is hit up this great kafana in Belgrade for a big mixed meat platter! If you haven’t had Serbian rostilj, your life sucks.

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 22, 2016 in USA vs Serbia

 

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“Passage Women” of Novi Sad, Serbia

“Passage Women” of Novi Sad, Serbia

A confused man scratching his head wondering why

Passage women? o.O 

 

I can hear y’all right now “What the hell is a passage woman?”  Well, I’m about to tell you all about them.

I’ve lived in many different parts of Serbia : Zrenjanin, Nova Galenika, Kotez, Pancevo, Zemun, Nis, Sremska Mitrovica, and in Novi Sad. Novi Sad IS the most beautiful city in all of Serbia.

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Trg Slobode

My office is right smack in the center of Trg Slobode, the most beautiful and well known part of Novi Sad. I’ve called this city home for over 1 year now. Back in early June, I moved from one apartment right off Nikola Pasice to a small, 130 euro a month apartment in a passage off of Zmaj Jovina and Dunavska.

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Zmaj Jovina

 

People are usually blown away when I tell them I live there. It’s the busiest pedestrian area in the most beautiful part of the city. Could you live in the most beautiful part of the most beautiful city in any other country for 130 euros? 🙂 It isn’t fancy or even nice, but it has a large bedroom with two beds, a hallway that leads to a big kitchen/dining room, large bathroom and a big balcony that overlooks the passage below.

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Passage off Dunavska

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Another example of a passage in Novi Sad

Most of the buildings in the center are connected so the only way to get through them is to stroll down one of the shop filled passages or walk all the way around.  The passages in Novi Sad are filled with an assortment of clothing stores, shoe stores, sports equipment, money exchanges, etc.

 

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Another passage

 

So what hell are passage women? Are they some homeless ladies who live in these passages or  sleazy women who hang out in them and do “things” for a $1? NO, NO, NO!!!! Neither of the two. Let me continue with my little story. Once I moved into this apartment back in June, everything was pretty good with the exception of no a/c. The summers in Serbia can be brutal, especially when you live in the center. The whole entire center is concrete, brick and rock so the heat stays here. I had a fan that I would stick in the window each night and it made it bearable, but each morning around 8am I would be jolted from sleep by laughing and loud talking from below my balcony. The ‘passage women’ or ladies who work in the passage shops, had set out chairs right below my balcony. There are a number of shops and none of them do much business throughout the day so the ladies tend to sit out there for hours upon hours, smoking , gossiping and drinking coffee. passage 7

Living above the passage women is an absolute nightmare for those of us who look forward to sleeping in on our day off. Serbian village women have always been known for their nosy ways, but the young city gals are no better!

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Serbian surveillance

I dread walking out of my apartment each morning because every time I walk past their little 5 seat table, they get quiet. I’m always the first to wish them a “dobro jutro’  and they always reply with the  same greeting, but I know that the American is always the subject of their early morning gossip. I kept telling myself that winter would bring a little bit of silence, but the temps don’t seem to bother the gossipy passage women in Novi Sad. They just throw on a coat, make a cup of steaming coffee and sit below my balcony laughing and gossiping away the day.

Beware of the passage women………

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2015 in Through my eyes

 

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Another Movie that Portrays Serbs as Gangsters


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Youtube is a great source of free movies. Every night before I fall asleep, I throw on some movie to watch because it helps me fall asleep. I was just randomly scrolling through some free movies and found one that looked interesting.

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The name of the film I landed on was ” A Lonely Place to Die“. It was released in 2011 with a budget of $4 million dollars. I had no clue that it had anything to do with Serbs until I got 1/4 of the way through the film. The movie is about a group of 5 friends that are out on a mountain climbing excursion in the Scottish highlands.  They are in a very remote portion of the mountains that is miles and miles from the nearest village.

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One of the climbers happens to hear a strange noise coming from a pipe sticking out of the ground. They dig it up to find a young girl that was enclosed in a little box. They try to find out about her, but she speaks no English.

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One of the climbers says that he thinks the language is Croatian. That perked my ears up. I don’t want to give away the rest of the film, but once you watch it you will hear some references to Serbians being war criminals and the ending introduces you to her father who is a wealthy Serbian war criminal.

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This can be added to the long list of films that like to portray the Serbians in a negative light. The movie was rated at 6.3 out 10 by IMDB and I found it very entertaining and suspenseful. Watch it for yourself and leave your comments.  Click here for the free version.

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2014 in Through my eyes

 

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Words to Describe Serbia…..


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We all know the impact that media outlets can have on your internal mental image you have of a place and people. The media does what their corporate sponsors want them to do. They cannot be trusted! The days of fair and balanced news are HISTORY!! We, the people of the world, need to unite and bring back sanity to this insane world!

I talk to a lot of foreigners that come to Serbia. Everyone of them has the same preconceived view of Serbia and Serbian people. I decided to ask many of them what words they would have used to describe this country and its people before their visit and after their visit. Here are some of the top answers:

BEFORE VISITING SERBIA

  • war zone
  • genocide
  • criminals
  • Serbia? Where is that?
  • dirty
  • evil
  • bearded men
  • rude people
  • dangerous
  • lawless country
  • communist buildings
  • lack of electricity and internet
  • corruption

AFTER VISITING SERBIA

  • hospitality
  • generosity
  • sexy girls
  • friendly people
  • tall people
  • proud nation
  • delicious and healthy food
  • no fat people
  • small cars
  • unique culture
  • “I felt safer in Serbia that in my own country!”
  • laid back way of life
  • “Exit Fest is the best! I will be back”
  • too much smoking in public
  • very intelligent population
  • “They all speak English!”
  • “We will be back for another visit!”

🙂 Isn’t amazing how much you learn when you step outside of your comfort zone and explore with your own eyes??? Serbia is worth a visit!! The most expensive part is your ticket…… after that you can live like a king for around $600 a month! BOOK NOW!!!! 🙂

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A few friends and I have started a new website that is dedicated to EVERYTHING SERBIAN!!!! I would love to invite each and every one of you to join us! It is called SAY SERBIA http://sayserbia.com/ . There is a security question on the entrance page. The answer is “baba”.

We decided to do this to show the world what all Serbia has to offer. It will be a place where Serbs and the MASSIVE diaspora can get together and chat, provide information on your history, music, culture, art, food, and people. We also have an excellent section with foreigner reviews of your great nation! Please help us make this site a success!! It was made from the hearts of a few guys that are very passionate about your country and your people. Please feel free to create your own discussions, add photos and info on your city, add videos, etc… BUT please avoid the negative things. This is a positive site for those that are interested in visiting. We have BIG plans for the future. It is currently in the beta testing mode. Check us out and if you have any suggestions, comments, complaints, just message me!!

Prva Exploziv was here in Sremska Mitrovica for 8 hours with me on Tuesday.They are doing an episode on me that will air next week. The site will be mentioned in there and will also be in 24 SATA in a week or so!!! HELP US SHOW THE TRUE SERBIA!!!! Hvala puno!!!!

VOLIM VAS!!!

 

 
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Posted by on May 17, 2013 in Through my eyes

 

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