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Spending Summer on Nantucket Island With 8 Serb Students


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My salary in Serbia isn’t the greatest, but there are some perks that go along with it. At Work and Travel Group, I solicit American business owners from September through January.  It allows me to meet many important folks in the hospitality industry. I explain to them about the summer work travel program and the positives of hiring our Serbian university kids for their hospitality businesses. You start to develop friendships with many of the managers and owner. One of them, the manager of the Nantucket Bike Shop, sent one of my student interview videos to the owner of the shop and the owner wanted me to work for him.  He loved my outgoing, talkative manner and thought I would be a great fit at his bike, scooter and jeep rental place. It was a little unexpected as I had already accepted a summer job at a fish processing plant in Anchorage, Alaska. It took me about 2 seconds to make my decision about where to spend the summer…… I was going to Nantucket!

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Nantucket is a little island located 30 miles off of the coast of Massachusetts. It’s well known in the USA for being one of the wealthiest places in the country. There are many famous folks who call Nantucket home: Secretary of State John Kerry, Uma Thurman, Sharon Stone, Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, Alex Gorskey (CEO of Johnson & Johnson), and many more. It has 80 miles of beaches and is the setting for the novel “Moby Dick”.

Nantucket

Nantucket

The Nantucket Bike Shop is one of my best accounts. The students always have a great time and make great money so I handpick the best of the best for the interviews. They want guys who can speak English well and who have a very outgoing personalities. The manager loved my picks for the previous year so he was excited to interview the ones I picked for 2016. I settled on a great group of students for him to interview. The finalists were: Dusan Dragicevic, Nikola Pausic, Milos Pesic, Nebojsa Peric, Momir Amidzic, Stefan Radic, Bogdan Dakic and Nikola Uzelac. Dusan and Nikola were working at the Nantucket Bike Shop on the program the previous year and the bike shop  wanted them back. The others were first-time j-1 summer work travel participants, but they dominated in their interviews. He picked all the students that I had selected so I was going to be living and working with this group of young Serbs for 3 months. I was excited to see how the summer would go.

Let me introduce this amazing group of Serbs before I go any further:

Stefan Radic

Stefan Radic with his rakija

Stefan Radic is one of my oldest and dearest Serbian friends. We randomly bumped into each other in downtown Zrenjanin, Serbia on my first trip in 2010. We have continued our friendship over the last 6 years.  I can honestly say that I consider this young man as a brother. I’ve met his wonderful mother, beautiful sister and will soon be able to meet his nephew as soon as he comes into this world in late 2016! Stefan is in his final year of security studies in Belgrade and plans on enrolling in the master’s program when he returns in October. He works at the Nantucket Bike Shop where he gives scooter lessons. He also took a 2nd job at the pizza place. If you don’t know Stefan Radic, you are missing out.

Nebojsa Peric

Nebojsa Peric

Nebojsa  Peric is a young man from Becej, Serbia. There isn’t a more kind and likable guy on the planet. I can remember my first encounter with Nebojsa at the Work and Travel Group office. He was always coming in to ask for help or to seek some advice. He’s laid back, friendly,  and a huge fan of Crvena Zvezda (Red Star).  I always have fun when he’s working in the same shop as me. I love listening to the owner’s pronunciation of Nebojsa because it’s always a disaster. My favorite thing about him is his haircut.

Bogdan Dakic

Bogdan Dakic

Bogdan Dakic is another guy that I’ve known for years. He was with Stefan Radic on the same night we bumped into each other. Zrenjanin is his hometown, but he’s an English major who studies in Belgrade. He always has a big smile and a positive attitude.  I respect Bogdan a lot because he is always concerned about paying me back after I buy drinks for him. You don’t meet people like that everyday. He’s also one of the guys that likes to join me at the local sports bar.

Milos Pesic

Milos Pesic

Milos Pesic is a guy that words will be hard to describe. This guy reminds me a lot of myself. He’s has a ton of energy, a born leader, and a guy who you like the minute you meet him. We first met in the Work and Travel Group office. I instantly knew he would be one of the best candidates for the Nantucket Bike Shop because he has an amazing personality that you don’t see everyday. He’s big into fitness and loves spending his free time on the beaches. He’s also the guy who cuts my hair here on Nantucket. Milos Pesic will go far in life!

Dusan Dragicevic (standing) Nikola Pausic (sitting)

Dusan Dragicevic (standing) Nikola Pausic (sitting)

Dusan Dragicevic is one of the coolest guys anyone could ever meet. He was born and raised in Veternik and studies in Novi Sad.  We first met in 2015 when he came into my office to ask about going to Nantucket. I instantly loved the kid. He has a permanent smile attached to his face and a wonderful personality 🙂 Dusan is one of the best workers at the bike shop. He gives scooter lessons and works a second job at a sports bar. The only thing I don’t like about Dusan is living with him. 🙂 He’s one of my roommates and one of the ones that loves to party the most. We had a yelling match during my first week here because he woke me up by yelling Serbian swears at 12:30am. He also eats peanut butter and salami sandwiches! :O Who does that??????

Nikola Pausic is the other returning student to Nantucket. The manager of the Nantucket Bike Shop told me ” Nikola Pausic will have a job here anytime he wants to return” That doesn’t happen all the time! Nikola was a prized employ of the bike shop last year while working as a delivery driver. He knows the island like the back of his hand and is always friendly and respectful to everyone. He is the one that was able to defuse Dusan and me while we were yelling. If you don’t like Nikola Pausic, there is something wrong with you.

Momir Amidzic

Momir Amidzic

Momir Amidzic has one of the most confusing names imaginable. It’s rare to find someone who can say it correctly. This young man studies in Novi Sad and first came into my presence in early 2016. He walked into the office to signup and the same day I had him doing an interview with the bike shop manager. Momir is another one of those people that you just can’t dislike. He’s laid back, friendly, and always has a smile and a joke. He does his best to annoy the hell out of me, but it isn’t working. He tries to screw me out of money at times by claiming I haven’t paid for stuff (he’s only joking). He also has some of the best hair on the island. 😉

 

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Nikola Uzelac and Kevin Spacey

Nikola Uzelac …… What can I say about this young man? I intentionally placed him last because I’m so jealous of him. This young man will be a very successful man in the very near future. He’s from Novi Sad and studies law. He works at the bike shop and found a second job as a doorman at one of the best bars in all of Nantucket. There isn’t a Serbian on this island who has better English than Nikola. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know him over this past month. We work great together at the bike shop and enjoy hanging out for some drinks when we are off work. He’s turned into a really good friend of mine and he’s helped me meet one of my heroes, Kevin Spacey.  Kevin Spacey, Nikola and I had a great conversation the other night. He comes into the bar that Nikola works at so Nikola knew where he would be sitting. We picked up the table right next to him and his two bodyguards. I bent over next to him with my beer in hand to offer a cheers which he accepted with a clink of glasses. He ended up turning around to ask us where we were from. He is one of the most down-to-earth movie stars that you could ever encounter. I asked him for a pic, but he refused. He said that he never gives pictures while in public because it will be never ending session. After going into the bar a few nights in a row, he promised to give snap one with Nikola before he left and he followed through on his promise by showing up on his last night on the island for the pic. Nikola was also featured in the Boston Globe with his picture of James Franco.

Nikola and James Franco

Nikola and James Franco

 

The summer has just begun! I can’t wait to see what’s on tap for the rest of the summer! I couldn’t have selected a better crew than the one we have now.  This experience is great for all of us. We have to learn how to live together, deal with different personality types, juggle difficult work schedules, and budget money on a very expensive island. The boys have really impressed me so far with their abilities to save money. They found a place called “Food Pantry” that provides free food to people on low incomes.

Boys taking a selfie at the food pantry

Boys taking a selfie at the food pantry

 

I’ll keep you updated on  our adventures as the summer continues.

Nantucket Bike Shop Serbs

Nantucket Bike Shop Serbs

 

Serbs, a Croat, and a Jamaican

Serbs, a Croat, and a Jamaican

Nikola, Milos I Stefan after work

Nikola, Milos I Stefan after work

 
2 Comments

Posted by on July 16, 2016 in Through my eyes

 

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Irish Gal tells about her Summer in Serbia


Dara
This wonderful young lady met her Serbian boyfriend on the social media site, Say Serbia, that my Chicago Serb friend and I helped bring about.  Hope they name their first child after me. 😉 She contacted me on Facebook to ask for a few tips and bits of advice prior to coming here this past summer.

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We had plans of meeting up while she was here, but we never seemed to be in the same place at once. One day I was with some friends in Novi Sad and bumped right into her and her Serbian boyfriend. They told me about a ton of experiences that she had encountered. She told me about her plan to create a video diary of her Serbian vacation when she returned to Ireland. Guess what I received in my mailbox today? This beautiful 28 minute video that documents her entire trip. I wanted to grill her with a few questions before posting it and she was kind enough to respond.

1. What did you hear about Serbia before visiting?

“I had never really heard much about Serbia. The only word I would have used to describe it previously would have been Sports! I was aware of a few of their athlete e.g. Vidic, Ivanovic, Seles, Djokovic etc”

2. Did you have any fears about visiting Serbia?

“As a kid, one of the stereotypes I heard a lot was Eastern Europe is dangerous, especially if you are black, as a result I never questioned that statement and deemed it to be a no go area for me.  As I got older and began to interact and befriend more people from different nationalities I realised most stereotypes I’ve heard are extremely false and through stereotypes prejudice and discrimination are formed. I wanted to overcome that.  I became more interested in travelling and learning about different cultures .My mum visited Poland a few years ago and loved it. It really encouraged me to want to travel more and experience places for myself. That’s where my curiosity to visit the eastern part of Europe began. Naturally I researched alot about different places to visit but after randomly talking to someone from the Balkans (he didn’t want to tell me he was from Serbia at first) and seeing how friendly and pleasantly easy to talk to he was, I wanted to learn a bit more about Serbia. Which is how started reading about other people’s travel experience and also how I came across YouTube videos of this American guy who was excited and passionate about Serbia.

Initially I wasn’t scared about visiting but when I started informing people about my upcoming trip, I was really taken back by the prejudice comments I was hearing from others, who I’m certain couldn’t even point out the country on a map if asked. This did lead me to start to worry about my visit just from allowing others comments to scare me. Two weeks before I was to leave, I messaged a black girl from London who had just returned from the EXIT festival held in Novi Sad. She shared with me her observations during her time there, how she loved every minute she spent in Serbia, how friendly and courteous people were and not to allow opinions of others to dictate my decisions and said that I should go there and see for myself before passing any judgement. Today I’m glad to say I’m delighted I went.”


3.  I have heard a lot of propaganda about Serbs being racist. What are your thoughts after being here ?

“I did get alot of stares especially in Zrenjanin; people didn’t even try to hide it. I was asked to take many pictures in Guča but you realise that people are just curious about you. People were interested in my background, my hair, the type of music I like etc. I didn’t experience any hostility during my visits to different towns and cities. 

Serbia is country that is often misunderstood by the world and seems to be painted in a negative way. All i can say is that it’s a place full of rich heritage, culture diversity and truly exceptionally warm and hospitable people. It’s the people who are the true treasure of this country. I’ve been to different countries but Serbia by far is the only place where i’ve truly felt welcomed and well looked after. It is impressive how they are willing to show you their home places and share their personal stories with you. I cried days before my flight, i just didn’t want to leave. Not many places or people can make you feel that way.”

4. What are four words that you would use to describe Serbia after spending your vacation here?

 

Divini ljudi

Odlicna hrana

Hospitality

Rakija

5. What is one thing that really shocked you about Serbia?

“I wouldn’t say shocked but more touched. People don’t earn alot and yet you wouldn’t realise that from their behaviour. A friend of ours had been working almost 24hours one day and yet whenever we went out he always made sure to come and spend time with us while I was around. Everyone would always offer to pay for me, they wouldn’t accept no for an answer. What I’m trying to say is that regardless of whatever situation they are in, people were still generous, caring and humble, making sure I was well looked after and even offering me gifts before I left. . My boyfriend’s baba gave me a gift she had owned for over 30 years. I loved the fact that every meal we ate together at the dinner table or that the Sunday lunch was always at the grandparents’ house, and everyone would insist that I should eat more because baba thought I was too skinny. Ne hvala, Sita sam was a phrase I used far too often. These kinds of gestures no matter how big or small really touch my heart.”



6. Name one thing that annoyed you or something you disliked about Serbia.

“smoking indoors”

7. Favorite food and drink?

“Oh my goodness, there are too many to choose from. The food was so delicious with so many different flavours and very healthy. Most of the ingredients used were from my bf’s fruit and vegetable garden.”

Food

Gomboca

Gibanica

Cevapi

Sataraš

Domaćinski

Homemade plasma favoured ice cream

Drink

Medovača Rakija (had one too many


8. What would you tell any other women of color or women in general that were considering a trip to Serbia?

“I’d say go for it and experience Serbia for yourself. Immerse yourself in the culture, people and food of course. I highly recommend.”

Serbia has left another great impression on a first-time visitor! She will be back soon.
 
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Posted by on November 12, 2014 in What others think

 

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Mexican Girl Falls for Serbia…..


mex

I had a wonderful young lady contact me over Facebook. She was from the middle of Mexico , the exact state (Michoacan)  that I lived in for 1.5 years . She was nice enough to answer a few of my questions about her experience. I copied and pasted the responses so forgive any spelling or grammatical errors. If you would like to send her a nice little message, here is her Facebook profile.

Q) Tell me a little bit about yourself and your hometown

About me, well, theres not much to say Im a student, soon I will get Mayor in Psychology, next May actually, im 22 years old already, and I still live with my mom and my older sister, I have another younger brother, and he lives with my father and his wife. I loooove food, dance and sleep very well right now, im training crossfit, I really love it, its very complex and beautiful sport . My hometown… Morelia is a very historic place, it could take a looooooong while for me to tell smth about it, but, what can I say… mex2 mex1Morelia is the city with most populated city in Michoacán (its state), and is the most extense, with an area of 78 km² and 597,511 habitants. It used to be a very strategic place for wars (when it was founded) and right now, the most important activities are culture and economy, you know, it’s a touristic place, for example, we have one touristic event called “Mariposa monarca”, and is a reserve of nature, where you watch all butterflies migrate to Canada (I think), and of course its an opportunity to sell food and services, tratidional food, like enchiladas, corundas, uchepos, tamales, elotes, atole de grano, atole of different flavors, churipo, carnitas, buñuelos, tequila, charanda, mezcal and other funny drinks , by the way, mescal burns almost like rakija, and taste is very similar, and of course don’t forget the effect jajajaj

Q) How did you first hear about Serbia?

Serbia was a country I never heard before in my life before, I even thought it was some sort of Asian country xD (sorry people, but we only learned about Yugoslavia) I first heard about it on the internet, I won’t say more , but when i heard about it I started to investigate it. I looked up its location on the map, the music, culture, food, and started to like it.

Q) What gave you the idea to visit Serbia? 

With time, I wanted to travel, thanks to a special b-day present from my mom so I started to look for different scholarship or volunteer programs that would allow me to travel and have some experiences. I found a program called “Vive Mexico” it is an organization here in Mexico that allows kids to travel, experience new cultures and volunteer. I applied for many countries including Serbia. I was accepted into the Serbian program called ” Drustvo Istrazivaca- Vladamir Mandic- Manda.”

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Q) What did you like the most about Serbia?

this is a hard question for me, cuz, basically, I can say im in love with this country. I cant say I like everything, but…when I got there I really felt like I was at home. Serbia is very similar to Mexico starting with the people. They were very generous and kind. The food, OMG, the food was so interesting because it’s not the same food we have in Mexico but had some things that were similar like style, flavors and ways of cooking. They had spicy foods, cheeses, homemade dishes, yogurt, milk, meats and bread and so on. My favorite of them all was  sarma and burek. I could eat them both forever and never get tired of them. and even if it’s not a dish or anything special, yogurt (moja kravica) and cookies was great. Landscaping is amazing in Serbia too. Mexico has some green places, but I never knew green until I came to Serbia, PERIOD. Another thing was the water. In my country you cant take water from the tap or public places and drink it. But in Serbia you can drink it which is so practical. I loved the music, dance and drinks too! Rakija is similar to our drink, tequila. but when i tried it the first time it made me think of “Metzcal” because it burns and tastes so delicious. I almost forgot, the old buildings, they are beautiful!!  The Serbian guys are also very good looking so girls GO TO SERBIA. 😉

Q) What were your favorite cities that you visited and why?

I cant tell you like my favorite, i mean i enjoyed staying at all those cities, but, instead i rather say like an order, and the number one would be Jagodina, its a small one, and because of that I think the most calm one, and i loved that, whole city is amazingand beautiful, very nice and great people, and one of my favorite parts besides downtown, is Potok park, that place is so simple and so misterious at same time, I couldnt be at the top of it, but where i was, I could see a place where you can just close your eyes and feel how the whole city embrace you, I cant explain the exact feeling, but is a great place to be chill . Number two, is Kragujevac, and again, city is great!, bigger, but still not crowded, I also loved the park, Veliki park, and I actually got lost there, it was very funny , anyway, that place is beautiful!!, green is all over the place, and there is a place where you can sit and watch people passing by, and still is quiet and relaxing, that place brings me lots of special memories, there, I felt some strong energy of love, peace, and fullfillness, its a magic place , third Valjevo, its a great city, great ice creams at plaza, but what I really loved from that place is Gradac, I actually stayed there, and we went to rock climbing, we were inside a cave, and the craziest and most amazing experience there was at this mountains, is near a border of town, but I cant remember the name of those mountains, we went there with Russian cars, and it was very fun!! Again, greeeen all over the place, there were like 3 mountains in a roe, all together, the smallest, middle and biggest, I wish i can remember the names, but, that was amazing. And last but not least, Belgrade, that city reminded me of Mexico city, crowded and big, people all around, transports, plazas, huge malls, even I rather more peaceful places, I still find Belgrade interesting, is because its huge, and full of history, buildings, that makes it so interesting, it still isnt that crowded as Mexico city, and gosh thats great, but, that city wellcome me and said goodbye to me of an amazing experience

Q) What was the strangest thing you encountered?

I cant say strange, but I wasn’t familiar with the carpets, you know, you get in a place, and take off your shoes. We don’t do that in Mexico. The toilets were also very strange. They are a different style and I didn’t know how to work it. One time in a restaurant I had to go out and ask a waiter to show me how to flush it. 🙂 The door handles are also a different style and the electrical outlets are so different from the rectangle ones we use in Mexico.

Q) What was the biggest problem that you ran into? 

Not problem actually, the only thing I can complain is that I couldn’t stay longer xD 😛

Q) Did you learn any Serbian ? 

I did learn Serbian, actually, im still learning, with my friends I made there, they help me a lot, plus, I search for pages where I can check grammar and all basic stuffs, but now is harder cuz im not constantly hearing it, when I was there, I realized I could actually learn it 100%, but of course I had to stay there way longer, I love Serbian, and the hardest part for me, probably to remember how to change last part of words, depending on tense and depending on gender, so, its funny for me sometimes to write it xD jajajaja

Q) What advice would you give to someone that is interested in visiting Serbia?

To not be afraid of what news, media or anybody that say things, especially negative things about Serbia, just don’t listen to that and go to Serbia, live your own experience. I can say that it is very safe, of course it isn’t perfectly safe, just like any country there is some crime, but it doesn’t mean there is a terrorist on every street corner, that is ridiculous. I can assure you that it is a place where you can find peace, so i am sure you are going to love the place. Go everywhere you can while you are there, try everything you can, meet all the people that you can meet , there are many things to enjoy. You will find a very close “family” there! 🙂

 

 
5 Comments

Posted by on October 11, 2014 in Through my eyes, What others think

 

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My Serbian Food in Pictures


Karađorđeva šnicla

Karađorđeva šnicla with potatoes, bread, and a sopska salad

One of the reasons that I have yet to leave this country is the vast amount of delicious foods! I wanted to share some of my past food experiences with you. Hope you enjoy!

Easter dinner with colored eggs, stuffed peppers, pork and lamb soup

Easter dinner with colored eggs, stuffed peppers, pork and lamb soup

 

Homemade meal from a friend's house in Nis

Homemade meal from a friend’s house in Nis

Kafana meal with cevapi, fries, sopska salad and Zajecarsko pivo

Kafana meal with cevapi, fries, sopska salad and Zajecarsko pivo

Sarma, pickled peppers, green onion and homemade bread

Sarma, pickled peppers, green onion and homemade bread

 

Fish soup (ribala corba) bread, and Zajecarsko Pivo

Fish soup (ribala corba) bread, and Zajecarsko Pivo

 

Komplet lepinja. Specialty from Uzice, Serbia.  Grease from a roasted lamb on bread with egg and kajmak

Komplet lepinja. Specialty from Uzice, Serbia. Grease from a roasted lamb on bread with egg and kajmak

 

Fresh fish from a small village near Uzice

Fresh fish from a small village near Uzice

 

they raised these fish in a stream by the restaurant

they raised these fish in a stream by the restaurant

 

Mixed meat platter from Kod Srbe

Mixed meat platter from Kod Srbe

 

cevpai, steak, and big cuts of pork with some fries and veggies

cevapi, steak, and big cuts of pork with some fries and veggies

Sopska Salad

Sopska Salad

 

pizza with something called "beef sauce" smeared all of it

pizza with something called “beef sauce” smeared all of it

 

plate of fresh roasted lamb at Mokra Gora

plate of fresh roasted lamb at Mokra Gora

 

different meats from a restaurant at Zlatibor

different meats from a restaurant at Zlatibor

 

Gurmanska pljeskavica

Gurmanska pljeskavica

 

palacinka or Serbian pancake

palacinka or Serbian pancake

 

Eurocream and Nutella... sweet creamy hazelnut spread they put on pancakes

Eurocream and Nutella… sweet creamy hazelnut spread they put on pancakes

 

a few of the condiments you can get on your burgers

a few of the condiments you can get on your burgers

 

Sarma or stuffed sour cabbage rolls... my favorite

Sarma or stuffed sour cabbage rolls… my favorite

 

meat tray from a friend's party

meat tray from a friend’s party

 

big pljeskavica with bread, urnebes, and fries

big pljeskavica with bread, urnebes, and fries

 

little pumpkin pies

little pumpkin pies

 

cheese pies with spinach in them

cheese pies with spinach in them

 

snack tray of pavlaka, ham and fried zucchini

snack tray of pavlaka, ham and fried zucchini

 

my favorite snacks... cheese, ajvar, crackers and a big bottle of Zajecarsko Pivo

my favorite snacks… cheese, ajvar, crackers and a big bottle of Zajecarsko Pivo

 

after dinner drinks of Nescafe and boiled wine

after dinner drinks of Nescafe and boiled wine

 

Serbian traditional drink, rakija that was served in a glass of crushed ice

Serbian traditional drink, rakija that was served in a glass of crushed ice 

 

 
5 Comments

Posted by on August 22, 2014 in Through my eyes

 

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Serbia Leads the World in……?


1280-Serbia-Grunge-Flag

You might remember my other post about Serbia leading the world in highest self esteem ….https://serbiathroughamericaneyes.wordpress.com/2012/08/27/serbs-1-in-the-world-in-highest-self-esteem/….. I just found out something else that Serbia leads the planet in…….

Thank God I never started smoking. My insides would be a total loss!! 😉 Alcohol is enough for me!!  I have a lot of friends that tell me that they only smoke when they drink. Is this possible? How do you get the urge to smoke only when you drink?  I have a lot of friends that smoke and I’m not going to sit here and lecture them about their habit! I believe in the slogan ” live and let live”, but just keep your smoke away from me! I like beer and am not ashamed to say that. I don’t go around pouring beer down the throats of those that don’t drink so why should I have to breathe your cigarette smoke?

Illinois-No-Smoking-Sign-S-9448

Thanks to “http://www.mydoorsign.com” for the use of their image

The state of Illinois adopted the Smoke-Free Illinois Act on January 1st, 2008. The Smoke-free Illinois Act prohibits smoking in virtually all public places and workplaces, including offices, theaters, museums, libraries, educational institutions, schools, commercial establishments, enclosed shopping centers and retail stores, restaurants, bars, private clubs and gaming facilities. It also prohibits smoking within 15 feet of all public entrances, doorways, windows, etc. A person who smokes in an area where smoking is prohibited can fined between $100 and $250. A person who owns, operates or otherwise controls a public place or place of employment who violates the act can be fined not less than $250 for the first violation, not less than $500 for the second violation within one year after the first violation and not less than $2,500 for each additional violation within one year after the first violation. The only exceptions to this rule are:

  • Retail tobacco stores that derive more than 80 percent of its gross revenue from the sale of tobacco products and do not have a liquor, food or restaurant license.
  • Private and semi-private rooms in nursing homes or long-term care facilities occupied by one or more persons, all of whom smoke and have requested to be placed in a room where smoking is permitted. The nursing home or long-term care facility must ensure designated smoking rooms comply with other laws and fire protection and life safety codes.
  • Up to 25 percent of hotel or motel sleeping rooms may be designated as smoking rooms, provided they are on the same floor, contiguous and smoke from these rooms does not infiltrate into 

I love Europe…….. specifically … the Balkans. One of the first things I noticed when arriving in Serbia in 2010 was the outrageous amount of smokers!! I would have to guess that more than 75% of my close friends in Serbia smoke!! No offence to this wonderful country that I have chosen to reside in, but it is hard to get away from cigarette smoke! I have heard that there are some laws about smoking in restaurants, bars, and public buildings, but I have yet to see any enforcement. Kafanas are my favorite hang out, but the amount of smoke in the air is enough to kill a bear! 🙂 Smoking in the US isn’t as common as it used to be. I am sure that cost has played a major factor in this drop. According to a study by the Wall Street Journal…. the average cost of a pack of cigarettes in the USA is $6.36 and rising. Serbia has an average cost of $2.03! One other thing that I notice is the amount of young kids that are smoking over here! You can see high school kids standing out in front of their schools smoking cigarettes during their breaks. You would be kicked out of school for doing the same thing in Illinois!

cig

Russia has led the planet in cigarettes consumed per capita for many years. That streak ended in 2012 when Serbia surpassed them!! Russians smoke around 2,786 cigarettes per person per year! Serbia hit 2,861 cigarettes per person per year!!!! 😮 😮 The United States is sitting around 1.028. Russia has been pushing through some tougher laws to combat their smoking epidemic. I think it is time for Serbia to do the same!!!! Here is the entire article: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390443624204578058201182906048.html?mod=e2tw#articleTabs%3Dinteractive

I will probably get some death threats for posting this. 🙂 You know one sick and twisted bit of information that I learned from my time in Nis?? N.A.T.O bombed the Yugoslavian owned cigarette company during our “peace” mission in 1999. Guess who owns it now????  Phillip Morris…. -_- I guess they were aware of the smoking epidemic!!! DISGUSTING!!

Keep smoking those cigarettes if you like. I am not a saint either! 🙂 Volim vas!

Join our new Serbia website and share your passion for this great country and people….. http://www.sayserbia.com/ and for those that are interested in helping Mr. Cather with his Serbia documentary with a few dollars, go to https://www.wepay.com/donations/serbia-through-american-eyes  I need you!!! We have completed the first episode and will be showing the premier to the Ruma community the first week of August and discussing it on “ZIKINA SARENICA” on August 3rd!!! I need you!!!! Hvala puno!!!!!!!

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2013 in Through my eyes

 

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What is Rocky Balboa’s Connection to Serbia?


ce-1205-602x230-rocky
We all loved the movie Rocky. I remember being an avid fan of the film series. I used to out in the woods and pretend to be Rocky Balboa.  🙂 Rocky was always the underdog who overcame all the obstacles to win whatever challenge was ahead of him.

You are probably wondering why we are talking about Rocky Balboa on my Serbian blog. 🙂 He has ZERO connection to this country…… or he didn’t until 2007!

My buddies that picked me up at the Nikola Tesla Airport in May of 2010 were driving a tiny red Yugo. They mentioned some of the things they were going to show me on the trip back to Zrenjanin. They mentioned a statue of Rocky Balboa! I quickly asked the million dollar question ” Why the heck is there a statue of Rocky Balboa in Serbia?” They said they had no clue, but it was worth the drive!

zitiste-jpg_660x330

The small village of Zitiste, Serbia is located in the region of Vojvodina in Northern Serbia. The population is around 3,000 residents. The majority of villagers work in the agricultural sector. The name is said to have derived from the word “Zito” which means wheat. The village had suffered years of war and numerous natural disasters so the villagers started discussing ways of ending this unlucky streak. A small group of friends that was led by Bojan Marceta, formed a group to push for a statue of Rocky Balboa in the town square. They had seen the famous statue in Philiadelphia and thought it would be a great thing for their little village! Rocky is a fighter just like all of the residents of this small village in Northern Serbia. They had defeated hardship after hardship just like Rocky! Rocky would be a perfect symbol for Zitiste! Their group approached the local mayor who gave his blessing. The only thing left was to find money for this project. They contacted the local chicken processing planet, Agroziv, that is located in the municipality of Zitiste.

agroziv

Agroziv is one of the largest chicken processing plants in Europe. They process around 8,000 chickens an hour! The CEO was all for the idea of bringing this tourist attraction to Zitiste. They now had the political and financial backing they needed. The only thing left was to find the man to create this statue. They contacted, Thomas Schomberg , who created the original Rocky statue.

Thomas Schomberg, the famous sculptor that created the finished Rocky Balboa statue

Thomas Schomberg, the famous sculptor that created the finished Rocky Balboa statue

He threw them a discounted price of a whooping $1.5 million dollars! 😮 They couldn’t afford anything in that range, but they refused to give up! They contacted local artists and finally found the perfect fit! Croatian Boris Staparac, was given the job for 5000E. The world press got wind of this strange idea and flocked to Zitiste during Chicken Fest 2007 , sponsored by Agroziv, to see them unveil the statue!

Finished Rocky statue in Zitiste, Serbia with the Agroziv chickens

Finished Rocky statue in Zitiste, Serbia with the Agroziv chickens

They had a crowd of around 20,000 people on hand for this occasion! They loved it!!! The statue brought a bit of fame and notoriety to this small little village along with a deep sense of pride! It is still attracting tourists to this day! The days of defeat and lack of confidence are over for Zitiste!! They will prevail!!! If you are interested in watching a 30 minute documentary on this statue click here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dq7ELHGVRT8

Please join our new Serbia website SAY SERBIA….. http://sayserbia.com/
and if you are in a generous mood…. please dontate a few dollars to my Serbian film series… We are going to show the premiere episode of Yankee Doodle Went to Serbia Ruma, to the city of Ruma in a week or so!! You guys and gals will love it!!! I have some other plans that are in the works for Republika Srpska!!! Please help or spread the word…. Living on your savings for three years is a big drain on the pocketbook!!! 🙂 HVALA!!!! https://www.wepay.com/donations/serbia-through-american-eyes. I really need to buy a new video camera to continue my videos on Youtube. 🙂 Volim vas!!!!

 
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Posted by on July 8, 2013 in Through my eyes

 

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Serbia… Land of Billionaires


Yugoslavian money

Yugoslavian money

It isn’t everyday you can move to a country and be surrounded by former billionaires. Serbia is one country that can boast that fact. Almost everyone that lived in Serbia during the 1990’s can brag about not just being a billionaire, but a MUTLI-BILLIONAIRE!

The U.S.A and other world powers love to put sanctions on “unfriendly” countries. It is usually the first step in punishing a nation for not abiding by their rules. This is a disgusting act that leads to mass starvation, shortage of life saving equipment, supplies, fuel, and it seems to punish ONLY the regular civilians. It also leads regular hard-working people into committing criminal acts just to feed their families!

During the 1990’s, Serbia was the heart of Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia was made up of Serbia, Montenegro, Slovenia, Macedonia, Croatia and Bosnia. Slovenia was the first one to declare its independence. The world was reacting to the fall of the “Iron Curtain” and the break up of the U.S.S.R.  There were some very brutal wars fought in this part of the planet to preserve the Yugoslavian lands.

Yugoslavia2map

N.A.T.O decided it would be best to slap on sanctions. For those of you not familiar with the term “sanctions” , as a noun, it means a threatened penalty for disobeying a law or rule. It keeps other nations from trading with them and keeps them from providing any financial assistance to them and keeping the “sanctioned” country from gaining access to its international funds. The majority of countries are drastically harmed by this act, Serbia included. Many of the families I have had the pleasure of talking with survived by smuggling gas, cigarettes, clothing, food, etc from their neighboring countries. This also lead to something called hyperinflation. Hyperinflation is extremely rapid or out of control inflation. There is no precise numerical definition to hyperinflation. Hyperinflation is a situation where the price increases are so out of control that the concept of inflation is meaningless.

worthless money

worthless money

Many of the Serbian families worked very hard during this time in their history. Once they received their monthly pay they would rush to the store to use their paycheck before prices would skyrocket. I was told that many families would work all month and only be able to buy a few loaves of bread! 😮 Can you imagine???  If you ask many of them how in the world they were able to raise their kids, they will just shrug their shoulders. Many of them would share and trade what little they had and help their neighbor. Maybe you were good at fixing cars and your neighbor had a lot of tomatoes. You would fix their car for a bag of tomatoes. I think this is what has made Serbians the tough, unflappable people they are today.

Hungarian bill.. Largest ever recorded

Hungarian bill.. Largest ever recorded

The highest record of inflation was in Hungary held the record for the most extreme monthly inflation rate ever — 41,900,000,000,000,000% (4.19 × 1016% or 41.9 quadrillion percent) for July 1946 amounting to prices doubling every 15.3 hours.Yugoslavia ranks 2nd on the all time list with prices doubling every 1.4 days  See the chart below.

Highest hyperinflation

Highest hyperinflation

This  lead to bills in the billion dinar range! 😮 It looks and sounds good to have a billion dollar note, but when it won’t buy a loaf of bread it looses all of its glory!

500 Billion Dinars

500 Billion Dinars

It sounds like I am surrounded by a country full of Warren Buffets, but life was hard. I can sit here and imagine the stress that was put on all of these Serbian families during this time. They survived and continue to survive to this day!

Gotta love the Serbs...

Gotta love the Serbs…

Long live Serbia….

Please join our new Serbia page… SAY SERBIA! http://www.sayserbia.com/ and if you are capable of donating a few dollars, dinars, euro, pesos or whatever  to my documentary “Yankee Doodle Went to Serbia” please do!!!! Every little bit helps! Here is my donations page https://www.wepay.com/donations/serbia-through-american-eyes

Version2

The first episode of Yankee Doodle went to Serbia “RUMA”is going to be out in a week or two! Here is an update from Srem Tv……http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vksV7jyP9VY I need your help!!! I have lived on my savings for 3 years now. This first episode wasn’t cheap!!!! We had a very professional crew with us. One professional cameraman, sound guy, two lighting guys, one producer and one assistant producer. We had top of the line equipment and stayed 5 days in Ruma! We wanted to go all out on our first episode. If we can’t find more funding to make it this way, I will just strap a camera on my head and head out on my own. 🙂 😀 😦 I never ask Serbians in Serbia for a dinar, but anyone else that has a Visa, Mastercard, American Express credit or debit can donate. I have only had 15 people donate to this. 😥 If you can’t donate, please share to your friends that can! HELP ME SHOW THE WORLD WHY I FELL IN LOVE WITH SERBIA!   Hvala puno!!!!

 

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2013 in Through my eyes

 

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