Note from Manbun McSkoogie: I originally wrote this article for The Matador Network, an amazing travel blog. But they decided that Serbia just wasn't interesting enough. Which was hurtful...
Serbia is a strange place, and as a standard Midwestern guy with little international experience, it’s hard to find too many familiar things to relate too.
Or at least it was at first. But as I spend more time here, I’ve noticed quite a few similarities between Serbia and the Midwest.
1. Basketball Is King
In a world of football/soccer, Serbians love basketball. Hardcore.
Maybe it’s because they’re all so tall. I don’t know.
But as a Hoosier in a foreign land, it’s refreshing to see basketball courts everywhere and hear the roar from Belgrade stadiums when the Serbian National Team is playing.
They love that team (almost as much as they love Novak Djokovic).
2. It’s Massively Underrated
Everyone from the Midwest knows how great it is. But people from the coasts still insist on calling it “flyover country”.
Well, that’s Serbia too. They’re not EU. Tourists don’t flock here. But there’s tons to do and countless wonderful people to meet.
3. They Love To Party
From Illinois to Wisconsin to Iowa, there’s a reason that a Midwestern University always sits atop the national rankings for the best party schools.
We can drink. We can dance. And we know how to have a damn good time.
Belgrade is no different. Serbia’s capital city has one of the best nightlifes in Europe. Easily.
They’ve perfected the art clubbing, and it’s only getting better.
4. It’s Less Expensive To Live Here
The Midwestern cities and towns are some of the most inexpensive places to live in the country. The dollar just goes further in the Midwest than it does in most other places.
Except for Serbia. In Serbia, the dollar goes unbelievably far. It’s great.
One US dollar equals roughly 100 Serbian Dinar and buys SO much more here than it does back in the states.
I can buy a week’s worth of groceries for 1400 dinar! A meal for two can easily cost less than 1000 dinar. A beer (a tallboy can) costs 50 cents. I love it.
5. Everybody Leaves. But Nobody Forgets.
Throughout the years, Serbia has faced some tough times. And many Serbians have left the country in search of better job prospects or safer living conditions.
But no matter where they end up, the Serbian people never forget where they’re from. It doesn’t matter if you’re in Paris or New Orleans or Portland: if you meet a Serbian, they’ll let you know it and then try to feed you stuffed peppers.
They love their culture. And the same is true about Midwesterners.
If we don’t end up in Chicago, we’ll trickle around the rest of the country. But we never forget our roots and still shout, “Paddidle!” whenever we see a car with a headlight out.
6. It’s The Crossroads Of The World
The Midwest is where East meets West. It’s the middle ground, the cultural “in-between” of the American landscape.
Serbia serves the same function but on a much larger and more varied scale. Belgrade sits at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers and has connected Europe to the East for centuries.
Due to this location, Serbia’s culture and language show influences from all over the world, making up one of the most interesting cultural landscapes in Europe.
Come on by!
So if you’re a Midwesterner contemplating a European vacation or a big move to a foreign place, take a look at Serbia and the other Balkan states.
They’re full of beautiful people, interesting places, and amazing food.
You’ll feel right at home.