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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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TWO SERBS TELL ABOUT USA EXPERIENCE


Two Serb friends of mine were kind enough to send me their thoughts on the USA. I hope to have to many more. Thanks boys! It’s great to hear opinions and thoughts on your own country. Sometimes it takes a foreigner to point out things that you take for granted.

Luka is a Serb from Pancevo, Serbia. He had the opportunity to travel to Louisiana last school year. He is one smart Serb. He made a video about his opinions of my country. Check it out..http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Y8WOpGDaMU..Here is his story……

“I went to America as an exchange student via PAX Organization. I contacted a representative from Belgrade, filled out all the applications and a few months later I was accepted. 10 of us from Serbia and Montenegro went to New York. There we’ve spent a week for the orientation and then each and every one of us flew to their host families. I went to Shreveport, Louisiana. It is mid-sized city located between Dallas and New Orleans. That was my first time in America so I had no clue whether or not the people are gonna like me or not especially because I’m coming from Serbia. I was happy when I found out how friendly the Americans are and I couldn’t believe that probably 99% of people never heard of Serbia. Most of them confused it with Siberia. Lol. At first it was hard to ajust to being so dependent on cars since there’s no public transportation in the US nor you can walk anywhere cause everything is so spread out. The schools in America are much easier compared to Serbia because you can pick 4 classes a semester and that’s it while in Serbia you gotta take up to 15 classes. In my American school I was able to teach to teachers and the entire classes about many different topics including the history of the Balkans which they found to be cool. I enjoyed my stay in America and made many new friends who will come for a visit one day. I traveled to Missouri, Arkansas, Houston, New Orleans, New York etc. I love America and I’ll definitely come back soon. I believe that if our two countries would collaborate more no one would be able to stop us grin

Marko is a Serb that attended the college beside my hometown! Lake Land College contacted me about  my equipment donations for Serbia. They mentioned that two Serbs were currently enrolled in athletic programs through Lake Land. I wrote to both of them and they were kind enough to write me back. He is a 6’6 Serb with some awesome basketball talent. Check out his highlight video…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=anHF0ankV5k Here is his story…..

“How i got started:
I had heard from my fiends that there is a agency who helps people ( players) to find school in US. So I decided to go to the agency, and to talk to them about the program and everything that they have to do for finding a college in US for me. I went to two agencies to see how each one works and I decided one of them. The one that was helping me had really nice people who were working there. I explained them my problem, and what i want. I told them that I want full scholarship, job and everything else was as we agreed. Also I did pay money and it was a good amount of money. Was a lot for me, but I payed first half for signing contract, and second half after they find me school actually when i got I-20 from school. everything was ok. They did find school for me and I went to LLC to study for two years.

..Before I got to US I didn’t know a lot about different culture, college basketball or anything similar to this. My biggest dream was to play basketball somewhere in a college. My dream came true two years ago when I come to US. I will never forget my first time when I traveled to US. That experience was unforgettable. By the time when I was flying to US I had a long trip over Belgrade, Ljubljana,Paris, Dublin and finally Chicago where my assistant coach was waiting to pick me up and take me to Mattoon. After three hours drive from Chicago to small city Mattoon on south side of Illinois I arrived to finale destination. Here we are Matton about 25.000 people nice and quiet place with beautiful Lake Land college campus. Lake Land College is one of most beautiful junior college schools in US where i spend 2 years of great experience. My first year was kind a tough for me because of my lack of English. With hard studying, and with help of the other people I started learning English. I remember that i was studying English every day so hard, so that i didn’t have a time to hang out with other friends. After few months I started speak English that people were wowed how good i can speak. People that i have met in US were very nice and kind to me. I never seen people who willing to help, and smiling that much as people in US. Practicing working, and studying are three things that filled my every day. We almost have practice every day two times, plus three classes, and work not easy but really worth to sacrifice yourself for better life, and learning new things. .Now I have the best experience from US in my life. I will never forget it for sure. Of course people that I met and people who were there to help me in my hardest moments they always going to be deep in my heart. God bless everybody there. I can say that Im caring the best memories from US with me.:”

Thanks, Marko.. Glad you had a great time in my state!!!

I might be working with a non-profit organization that helps Serbs find athletic scholarships. I will keep you informed.

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2012 in What others think

 

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Chicago… “Little Serbia”


Chicago will always be one of my favorite cities  I have had the honor of living in. It is home to many famous people …. Barak Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan… just to name a few… Chicago is the largest city in my home state of Illinois. It is not the capital as many think… that honor goes to Springfield … yeah.. the hometown of the Simpsons..;) Chicago is the 3rd largest city in the USA boasting 9.5million people when you include the suburbs… It is a booming city that has rebounded from the Great Fire of 1871 where 1/3 of the city was burned to the ground. Today is home to the largest building in the USA, Willis Tower (formerly named Sears Tower). It is 108 stories or 442 meters.  Chicago is also home to the Chicago Board of Trade which merged with Chicago Mercantile Exchange and is one of the most important pieces of the worlds economy…

 

Chicago is also a major sports city!!! We have very popular and successful sports teams and some of the best athletes of all time.

Chicago is also home to many different religions. We have a large Jewish, Catholic, Hindu, Muslim, Orthodox, Sikh, and Buddist community and all living in harmony.

Chicago is also a very multi ethnic city…. We have very a large Hispanic community, African American community, Chinese Community, Polish Communty, Gay community :), and one of the most astonishing is the Serbian community! When most people think of Chicago they think of the Irish community but Chicago is home to over 500,000 Serbians!!! That is the largest European immigrant population of all! The Irish come in second at 200,000!!! Belgrade, Serbia is home to the largest amount of Serbs in the world at 2.8 million but Chicago is #2!!!! Larger than their second largest city of Novi Sad!  

I had the pleasure of living in this city for a few years and really loved it! The large mass of Serbs might explain my obsession with Serbia! Maybe the Serbs put some sort of “Serbian love potion” in the water… 🙂

 
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Posted by on March 18, 2012 in Through my eyes

 

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