As soon as you decide to leave your country, you need to get use to that.

At the beginning it's not easy but it's all the time interesting. I left France in the middle of January to go to Macedonia. Here is my opinion about some cultural differences.

 

We don’t eat at the same schedule

In France we have 3 meals; the breakfast is between 6 and 8am because we start working in general at 8 or 9am. The lunch is at midday and we have between one hour and one hour and a half break for it. The dinner is between 7 and 8.30 pm. While in Macedonia you eat your lunch around 2 or 3 pm, that’s why the dinner is also later. For us, it’s hard because we are starving at 1pm!

In French night clubs we rarely book a table

In France, when you go in a night club either you straightly go to the bar to order a drink and sit a table with your friends or you are going to dance. Table can be booked but it’s not usual. We go there because they are free. You would never see people like in Macedonia dancing around a table. Everyone go on the dance floor. So when we discovered it, it was really strange for us. We didn’t know what to do and where to go. Henceforth we know that we need to book a table.

The way of driving is different

The first day I arrived, people told me that it’s not necessary to wear my seat belt and I was really surprised. Then I saw all the people driving in a crazy way, they don’t really mind about pedestrians. So we have to be very careful, all the time. Moreover, pedestrians crossing are not respected and there is no sidewalk in some cities. Sometimes I have the impression there are no driving rules. I saw people who were almost run over by a car. We must be really careful all the time.

The way we do grocery shopping

I noticed that people don’t fill out their supermarket caddies. They are going very often to the market or the bazaar in order to eat fresh food. I like this way of doing the shopping, because Macedonians take only what they need and not too much. In France we have the bad habit to buy, and buy many things once a week.  Then, we often throw it away. Our country is based on overconsumption.

Different transportations mode

 In Macedonia cabs are so cheap! It’s great because you can use it at any time and every day. In France it’s really expensive. It’s crazy; it’s not worth it to take it. We only take it when we don’t have others choices. In France in our big cities (Paris, Nantes, Rennes, Marseille…) we have many buses, the tramway, the tube…  We mainly use transportation mode and not our car. It’s cheaper than having a car and better for the environment. The annoying thing of using transportation mode instead of having your own car or using cabs is, that during the night ( after a party) it’s really hard to come back home.

 Coffee all the time, at any time (mainly Saturday) in Macedonia

We all know that the cliché of the French is they are eating baguette, drinking wine… and loving coffee. Unlike Macedonians we drink coffee mostly at our home with friends or at work. We will go for a coffee outside during the week end if we have time and if our friends too. In general we plan it before. In Prilep, every Saturday before 2pm you are going outside to drink a coffee. I find this habit really cool. It allows you to keep contact with friends every week. In Macedonia you don’t plan going out for a coffee, you just say: “Ok, are you free now? Let’s go for a coffee!” It’s totally spontaneous!

The way we dress up

In my opinion, Macedonians girls dress up more or less like British girls. When they go outside, for a coffee or for a party they are really well dressed and classy with lots of make-up and short skirt. Whereas in France we don’t wear short dresses without black tights and most of the time we don’t put a lot of make-up. I think there are not much difference between Macedonians and French boys.

 

 Everyone knows everyone in Macedonia

Prilep is not a huge city, but it’s not that small. I was really surprised that everyone knows everyone and everything. I discussed about that with others volunteers and Macedonians and all think the same. Macedonians use a lot Facebook. In this country it’s a Must Have. It’s the best way to communicate. When we go out, we have the impression that Macedonians are all friends. In France it’s different, in general you know the people by sight because you saw them very often in the streets or in different pubs but you don’t have them on Facebook and you don’t say Hi. In France it’s more individualist. It’s hard to explain but the relations are not the same.

 Different drinks

In Macedonia you have specialties: You have Rakija which is really strong!! I already tried yellow Rakija and it’s really nice with your typical salad. ( Sorry I can’t remember the name). You have the Zlaten Dab beer, which is the speciality of the city, and we order it all the time in pubs.

The Macedonian Hot chocolate is awesome!! Even more in Art Café! As soon as my friends from France will come, I will bring them in a bar to drink it. It’s kind of thick, not liquid, as a dessert. I will miss it when I will leave the country!

 

Bérénice Kermoal

 

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