You will probably, at some time, come to convention in Serbia. Let's be realistic, we are Beokocka, resistance is futile, you will be assimilated :)
and your mocign and partying distinctively will be added to our own :)
That being said, there are things that are different even here, between Eastern European countries, let alone if you come from the West. So, take a look at this 10 facts that surprise (culture shocked) from American girl living in Serbia for some time, and I will add my comments
Her video: (link)
On a special note, I also liked this tourist clip about Belgrade, he went to all the places we take you when you visit us :) (link)
and another cute short visit (link)
1. Not receiving change and receipts in hand
As it is considered a sign of respect in the west to put those things in hand, here, it is not a big deal, and you never know if someone wants to be touched or not - you just put it on the counter, no fuss. It has absolutely no significance with respect at all. It is just.. well, cleaner, right? Imagine someone from shop touching 200 hands before touching mine, not great :)
2. What is the correct way to eat pizza
with fork and knife? No, dear, you are just traveling amongst fancy people who want to make impression on you :) In truth, we eat with hands, on the run. Although, at home, why get messed up if you can use knife? Although I personally eat pizza at home with my hands also. So this is not something cultural per se, I believe it is just way to look classy (although, then you shouldn't order pizza in the first place:)
3. Last minute plans :)
you hit the soft spot :) we tend to live in the moment, living today to the fullest, and plans are good, but loose plans "in next few days we could go to that place and have dinner together" :) Having plans really bounds you, and you know, in Friday night, everyone will go out - so the fun will happen, it is not important if it will be place A or place B - we decide on the run. Same goes for everything else :D
4. People here are serial plan cancelers
haha true :) like fro point 3, we don't like to be bound, we don't like to have obligations and we like to do what it feels like in the moment :) This means that, if I don't feel like going to the diner - I won't go, and other Serb will understand - it is better not to go, then to go forced, although, a lot of great things happened when I forced myself to go to some event :)
So, both sides of the coin :)
5. Seasonal bars, restaurants and clubs
Yes, we have few hundred clubs and bars in Belgrade - we like to socialize, and why are some (really, some, not all:) closed during the summer and open during winter and vice versa? They are usually the same club that has two facilities, and one is worm and suited for snow outside, usually in the center of the city, and the other one is open, few walls and a pool inside - usually on the river or on the lake. It is simply convenient, and it brings more money :)
6. Drink alcohol outside on the public places
Why not? Nature, fresh air, stars, a lot of friends around you - simply, why not? :)
If you are allowed to drink inside - what's the point of forbidding people to drink outside? :) Making a false picture that all citizens are prudes? Impact on kids? We know that we are not prudes, but we tend to think we are good persons, and that is enough, and we teach our children to be strong, and image of person drinking in the park will not shake any kid at all.
7. Dangerous football matches
If you don't wear any other football signs during derbies, you are cool
Funny story, Jan came to visit us first time, and Dusan and I took him to lunch - we passed hundreds upon hundreds of cops in riot gear, and we said it is normal for that time of day :) Later we said we were joking, and it is a derby - football match against to forever-rivals, Partizan and Crvena Zvezda (Red Star:) they are always clashing, and they love it. They never ever touch normal citizens - they just clash over themselves. So that is why no football teams shirts and scarfs during derby :) You watched Green Street Hooligans? Children's play, when compared with those two football fans groups = but if you are not a football fan, you are invisible to them
8. Everybody smokes everywhere
Although I am not a smoker and I am against it, yes, it is allowed to smoke everywhere, except in government buildings, hospitals etc.
I don't know, it is cultural difference :) For me, it is normal. Although I love it when I go abroad and in clubs nobody smokes - but my friends to get nervous pretty soon, though :) Girlfriend too :)
9. Traffic lights
what she said :D
10. Animal poop
what she said :)
although this is changing, people are doing with no compulsion from government
I will add one more:
11. Taking a girl on a first date to restaurant
Never. Maybe take her there and have drinks, but you don't want her to see you eating like an animal first time you meat, then later maybe have stomach issues, or waiting to say something charming because you need to chew - no, it is not considered romantic here, it is considered rude, and almost no one is doing it - after you become a couple, this is normal thing, going out on launch
12. Draft is a killer!
There is only one thing Serbs are afraid, as a nation - draft.
I don't know why, but you will NEVER see draft in houses, and even during summer, if there is one window open in a bus - no one will open a second one :)
Draft kills is something our grandmothers teach us, and it is repeated so many times it sticks :)
And for many health issues people accuse draft :)
so, when people are laughing and then become REALLY serious when you open both door and window - now you know why :)
13. Look in the eyes when you cheer
It is a sign of respect to look someone straight into eye when you bang glass on a glass with drink. It is sign of utter disrespect and dislike if you look somewhere else. I had friends from abroad who say "what have we done, everyone is angry on us" - this is usually why :)
Also, people here cheer equally with girls as with boys. Gender equality to the fullest. You usually leave your loved one for end, or she/he is the first, also sign of love. And if people do not drink alcohol but are on the table - cheer with them too, it doesn't mater if they have water or juice or nothing - you are not cheering with a drink, but with a person, we say :)
14. Mother and sister are sacred
My sister is really cute, isn't she?
Be careful what you will answer :) be diplomatic to the fullest "yes, she is one very attractive person, thank you" and "thank you" is to diffuse situation :)
Never hit on a friends sister, unless you plan to merry her :)
and never talk ill about someone's mother, this is a very bad sin here. If you are arguing and you are swearing, if you mention mother or sister, there will be fight 99.99%
So, only respect to mother and sister
15. Drinking rakija
When you get a glass of rakija, you drink it on ex. Meaning all, in one swallow.
Everything else is considered weak, and anyone drinking with you will be ashamed. If you are a man, they will not call you a girl - because girls drink rakija on ex also :)
So be a man and just finish the cup :)
It is healthy, unless you take another cup, then, you are alcoholic :)
16. Paying the bill at a pub or restaurant
If you are on a date, male pays, nobody even considers otherwise - unless the girls say "I will". Then a male say nothing and nods - everything else is disrespectful
But if you are bunch of friends, then:
There was a scene when we were at lunch with AFOLs, and on the other table few large guys were laughing and being generally happy. When bill arrived, they started arguing, and a fight started. So our international friends said "it is about the bill, right?" "Right" "No one wants to pay it?" "no, each of them wants to pay the whole bill" And they are the best of friends
So, in Serbia, if someone says "I am paying" let him/her pay :)
17. Screaming on people or invading their personal space is violent offence
We travel a lot too, and in most Western countries it is ok to get in someone's face and start yelling and cursing and waving hand - in some countries, it is ok if you wear a mask, something over face to conceal your identity. In Serbia, if you were to wear a mask and approach someone, you would get slammed before you opened your mouth, if the approached one saw you as danger. Also, yelling and cursing on someone is considered as invitation to fight, and in fight, the one who strikes first usually wins - Serbs will strike down violent people in the second.
So don't play a tough guy in Serbia. In here, even scrawny, little dudes or girls are probably tougher then you, and they will kick your elbow :) Be kind, Serbs react with ton of kindness to even a little kindness
18. Use of protection
For some reason, using protection during the act is not something that is normal - so if you are foreigner, and you find a partner, don't surprise when he or she is offended because you are reaching for protection - one sentence usually do the trick "I am not only protecting myself - I am protecting you", but it happens that the other person decides then not to go with the act. This is not a good practice, and you stick to your principles no matter how gorgeous he she is - and our people, both male and female, can be very persuasive, so stay vigilant
19. Driving a car and police stops you
It is show of respect for the officer to get out of the car when you are stopped. I some countries this is punishable - you have to sit tight with hands on wheels. In here, police officer will not react even if you do not exit the car, but if you just sit with your window closed, he will be less likely to let you go with a warning.
20. Giving your seat in public transport to elderly, pregnant or children
For some reason this is not common around the world, so if it is not common in your country to give your seat, do it anyway. Other passengers will get you up directly scrutinizing you anyway, so just do it - don't be a caveman :)
21. Constantly checking social media while in company
This is considered extremely rude. All phones are usually on table, but taken only if someone calls. People who take pictures of their meals are considered simpletons, and if we make picture together - wait to go home or outside to post it - it is considered a good manner.
22. If you are with a partner in a pub, and you leave her/him to go to the bar or bathroom
Someone will come and start flirting. It is ok, people don't know if you are a brother, father, friend or coworker - but if you say you are with boyfriend/girlfriend, they will usually back up, with smile and compliment
Here is the logic: even if you are with the partner, maybe you are in front of the break up, at the end, if I am better, I deserve you near me more than him, if I am not, you will stay with him.
I say this as it is considered an offence to approach someone and ask him for a drink in some countries - in here, as long as person is polite and go away after girls mentions partner or lack of interest, it is ok. So be prepared for a lot of attention, in clubs and pubs.
23. Who seduces who?
Males approach females. Males expect it, females expect it. It is a social concept that people accepted and like. If it is other way around, first thought is "what is wrong with this person so he do not approach, or she does approach, what is their flaw?" So, if you are a girl and likes a guy and approach him and offer anything you will be considered as short entertainment, and never a relationship material. If you really like someone, it is enough if you just watch him, and when your eyes meet - smile. He will do all the rest :)
24. Politics, wars and finance discussions
Do not start conversation about politics of wars. It will kill the mood of every conversation, as we passed through a lot of these bad things. People have a lot to say and they are angry, and because they were ok and your topic made them angry, they will become even more angry because of that - it is avalanche that will end with shouting - if you really want to mess with Serb, start talking about regional politics, and he/she is hooked :)
25. Historic discussion
But if you want a totally different emotion, ask about Serbian history - everyone here is an expert, and everyone is so proud about national history - although, they could touch an event that made them angry, and then it is point 24. All over again
Best advice - don't approach these subjects, unless you really need to :)
26. Joining in drinking
Serbs can drink a lot. A LOT. So when they start ordering, when you reach your limit, stop. We have really strong tolerance, both genders
Remember Ana and hers 99 honey boney rakija (medovaca? At the end, she was left standing, and the others... well. They survived, that is the only important thing :) It is not a shame to stop drinking when you feel like it, it is considered a sign of healthy mind - but Serbs will try to influence you :take one more, let's do it together" If you do, who eats rakija for diner, eats water for breakfast, we say :) And your head will be the size of football field :)
So, stop when you feel like it
27. Vegetarian? Tough luck
Vegetarians are considered... weird is the best word. Nobody says anything, but looks are like you are walking on your hands and singing Prodigy. Do not be offended - people here just eat meat in every shape possible, and although every restaurant have vegetarian something - people order that very, VERY rarely, if ever. By mistake, usually, not understanding what the name means :)
28. Do not buy shady things from shady persons
Where ever I went in western world, shady things were sold from shady arsons everywhere - in here, no, they are mostly undercover police officers. So, don't go on this route. If you really need something, ask your Serb friend, he/she always knows someone.