1. You are a child of war.
If you are Serbian, you have surely lived through a war. Or two . Or three. At the very least a bombing. There was so much fuss in the Balkans in the past few decades, and all the disagreements were followed by clashes and seceding. My great -grandpa had a Yugoslavian, a Serbo-Montenegrian and a Serbian passport during his ninety years of life.
2. At one point you were a millionaire… hell, let’s even say a billionaire.
A great economic crisis accompanied all the changes in Serbia in the nineties. Even if you are too young to remember the inflation, it is highly likely your family still has twelve figure bills stacked somewhere.
3. You’re probably homophobic.
If you are a Serbian, there is unfortunately a big chance that you will be a homophobe. In the Pride parade of 2010, 140 people were hurt, most of them policemen. There is something in the patriarchal system and closed-minded notion of ‘manhood’ that does not let Serbs easily grasp alternative lifestyles or equality.
4. You know all the Turkish names for food, but can’t speak Turkish.
Serbia was, as well as a big part of the Balkans, under the rule of the Ottoman Empire. The colonization period lasted five centuries and left a big mark on the cuisine, language and mentality of the nation. Many recipes that the army brought in from Turkey remained and became a part of the national cuisine such as kebabs, goulash and sarma.
5. You will use ‘bre’ at least five times a day
There is a word untranslatable to any other language; a word whose meaning is unknown to everyone; a word that is so widely used in informal language that you don’t even notice when you hear it; a word followed by many legends. That word is bre. Many linguists have unsuccessfully tried to explain what bre means and to track down its roots. The only thing they came up with is that bre is the remaining heritage of Ottoman rule.
6. You are either a momma’s boy or a daddy’s son.
If you are a boy, there is a high possibility you will have a close, incomprehensible relationship with your mom. Mommy will never want to see you leave the house. Even after you get married, you will have to bring the bride home and live with your parents.
On the other hand, if you are a daughter, your dad will call you ‘son’. This manner of speech might be confusing for anyone coming from another country. Why do Serbs call their daughters “son” when we have a perfectly functional word for “daughter”? That is just how it is.
Maybe it has something to do with the idea of patriarchy being so deeply rooted that makes all Serbian fathers secretly desire a son over a daughter?
7. At least one of your grandparents will be “pro rakija”.
Rakija is Serbian national drink. It is made out of plums with an alcohol content reaching 40%, therefore it is not for weaklings. Whether your granddad sips it while reading newspapers or your grandma uses it to cure all illnesses, they will certainly have a barrel or two of it safely stored in the basement.
8. You don’t listen to trumpet music, but when Guca time comes, you become a fan.
Guca is one of the nation’s biggest music festivals. Wait! Why am I even telling you? If you are a Serbian, you will already know that. Even though you are not into brass music, you will talk about it with passion and spark in your eyes when eager foreigners ask you for more details. Trumpets are part of Serbian tradition, most commonly related to big celebrations like weddings or slavas – Family’s Saint’s Day.
9. You love or hate up-to-date folk, there are no mixed feelings.
There are many estrade artists. Some of them are just love-it-or-hate-it unique. Maybe we should just say that superstars always have an army of haters as well.
10. You will hate politicians and curse the holes on the roads, but when abroad, you will miss it all.
You could pay half a euro to the train control instead of paying two euros for the actual ticket. You will have to be a part of an influential political party in order to get a job. You will be paid less because your cousin is not someone holding an important position.
However, there is no place like home, even though the home might be where the bribe rules.
You will dream about life abroad. Once you make it, you WILL miss it all – the real friendships, warmth and hospitality of the people, but, above all – you will miss burek and yogurt.