Chronicles of Serbia

Expat of the month
  • Chronicles of Serbia
Published on 2015-04-01 at 00:00 by team
My name is Tina, and I was born in Northern Pennsylvania on Lake Erie. I have had the privilege of living all over the U.S. and experience culture shock within my own country. It is a very different place North to South, East to West!

Hi, my name is Tina, and I was born in Northern Pennsylvania on Lake Erie. I have had the privilege of living all over the U.S. and experience culture shock within my own country. It is a very different place North to South, East to West!

When and how did you decide to move to Serbia? Is it complicated to settle down there?

It is a complicated place to move to if you are doing it alone, but I married a Serb and legally the move was easy. Of course, I didn't do the paper work!! It was all in Cyrillic! The post-communist paper work is not a sync. We were lucky his mother used to work in city hall! She knows the right people and what to do to get things done!! Otherwise, it was stressful, exhausting, and overwhelming to leave my family, move things, etc. 

Have you ever lived abroad before? How many countries have you visited?

I have visited countries around the globe, but never lived anywhere else. This was totally new experience!

What do you like the most about Serbia?

The food! It is amazing! And my mother-in-law is an amazing cook!

How is/was the cultural shock? What are the main differences with the US, your home country?

I think the grocery store was the first big thing, I came home crying after trying to go buy food to prepare for dinner. There was little I could compare to home and almost everything is made from scratch. When I arrived the first time in 2008, the selection not so good. Things have improved vastly!

Do you miss anything from your homeland?

I have missed many things, just being in the same time zone! I miss working, friends and family of course, and mostly it is the food. But that is common of most expats. I do love that the food especially produce is healthier. GMO is not so big here, yet!

Any 'memories of an expat' you would like to share with us? Your best souvenir? Or maybe your worst experience?

There are so many good and bad. I embarrass myself a lot! I write about it all in the blog, the embarrassing things I call foreigner follies. I can't help but laugh at myself. So much better than crying! The most recent thing was wearing regular shoes in the preschool bathroom to wash my little one's hands... There was a new teacher and she came in talking so fast the words flew over me. I couldn't catch what she was saying. I was so embarrassed and overwhelmed! It took me a minute and I realized my transgression, but still was at a loss for words. All I could manage in Serbian was “I am a foreigner, my Srpski isn't good. I don't understand”. I walked out of the bathroom leaving my little one with the teacher. I just kept walking out of the building and all the way home. The next time I saw that teacher, I fell over myself apologizing and she did as well. Usually, things that seem overwhelming like that are easily fixed. 

What does your typical day as an expat in Serbia look like?

Like I said, I have little one, so I take her to preschool, it is public and I get to improve my English by interacting with the teachers and mothers in Serbian. It stretches me and has taught me a lot! Then I do housework, see friends, write, make dinner... The days go fast! Soon it is time to pick up the little one. Then it is the park or play dates... the usual kid stuff. 

When did you start your blog? For what reasons?

I started it back in 2008, I was writing home and thought a blog would be good for everyone to see. Later, it was therapy as I became depressed. It helped. Now, because of the blog, I would even consider myself a writer. I am writing all the time in my head. I am so glad I started blogging!

Did you make new friends with your blog? 

I have! One has become a dear friend who I consider family.  On our second trip to Serbia, I made contact with one of the readers who found me throughExpat Blog! We ended up having Christmas together. She has since moved back to the U.S. and we have hung out there as well! So thanks to expat blog for a dear new friend! There is one more as well. She has visited and I have visited her in the north. Blogging is great for making friends online and in real life! But I would caution people to be careful. 

Why did you register on and what do you think of the website?

I found your site soon after beginning the blog and I really like it! I was excited to find others like me! The site has made me new friends, helped me to find other bloggers. It is great!

Which advice would you give to the other Expat blog members who would like to settle in Serbia?

Moving to any country is a challenge. Serbia is still quite undiscovered as an expat home. Most of the expats are in the North. That is also where most of the business is. Being a post war, post-communist country, things are hard here. But possibilities are endless since is it is still kind of fresh and new. It is also the home of some amazing history. Sadly, there are concentration camps in most of the cities left over from WWII. The Turks have left their mark, and there are two big Roman ruin sites quite near where I live! Roman ruins are found all over Serbia!

If you want to move here, bring lots of patience. Things move slowly and time is like that of Latin America. Very fluid. Time isn't money, people don't make enough for it to be important. On the other hand, there is time for coffee and friends. People are warm, friendly and generous once you get to know them!

Chronicles of Serbia