Here I was in Macedonia without a job and not really searching for one either. But couple of months before my visa expired, I started to ask around. As I mentioned in my previous blogs, this Dutch community in Macedonia is small but very, very strong. And right on time I got a job in a Macedonian company with a Dutch director. It was then that I noticed the different mentality of living from the Macedonians.
1. Mentality in work
I can still not believe how much the Dutch working mentality differs from the Macedonian. Or maybe it is more western compared to eastern Europeans, anyway there is a difference. Basically it is like this: the boss tells a Macedonian his task (mostly not more than one) the Macedonian works on it and after he finishes, he waits until his next task is assigned to him. While in the Netherlands you work and when you finish you think about all the other tasks you can do.
But the thing that keeps me amazed and in fact I am jealous of this, they don’t care. No wait, they don’t give a rat’s ass. As long as the boss is paying their salary, Macedonians are satisfied. They get up, go to work, finish tasks and go home. After that they actually enjoy life. Something that is rarely seen in my country.
Just a little explanation why I love living in Macedonia. In the Netherlands there is this pressure. The pressure of getting the right papers for the job, the pressure of making a career as high as possible (more and more people under 40 years are under too much stress and have burn outs) and there is this pressure because people expect you to succeed in life. So getting married, buying a house and having two kids is like a Dutch standard. And to have all of that, you need to have a nice salary, or else it is kind off impossible. Here in Macedonia it is good when you have work, but it is better when you enjoy your life. Getting out in the nature, going on a coffee or getting a drink in a café. Here they live outside of their homes, and I love that.
2. Mentality for sports
Yes, we Dutch people are good in football or were… since we are not playing in 2016 European Cup. But handball or basketball are sports Dutch people are not so good at. Which is weird since we are one of the tallest nations in the world. But in Macedonia it is all about sports. Oh and they love to bet on it as well, everywhere you can find the betting houses and there are always people inside.
One time when I was here in Macedonia, my boyfriend wanted to watch handball. And he was really enthusiastic about it, which I didn’t understand at that time. So there we were in a very crowded café watching handball, and in the end they won and became 5th in the European league. Just so you know, if the Dutch become 5th in any kind of sports, basically no one will care and certainly not go out on the streets to celebrate.
Well here they go out on the streets, they block the main roads in the city center, they go out with drums, they celebrate for being on the 5th place! I was amazed, and of course walking with the crowd. Ever since I’m fascinated by handball and we even got season tickets for the local club Vardar.
3. The way of thinking
From what I have noticed from friends and family here in Macedonia, there is a different way of thinking about life. It seems Macedonians are happy when they can live another day, they appreciate it more than the Dutch that’s for sure. But the downside of that way of living, they don’t think in general that much about the future.
So people here are taking loans for basically everything. For a car, a house or an apartment (ok, I get that) but also for a graduation party?! For that is was a bit shocked. But people are taking loans and later on they will figure out a way to pay it back, they don’t really care if they can pay it back at all.
You can also see this in the government, the only thing that seems to concern them is spending money (a lot of money) and they hope to make Macedonia more attractive for tourists and foreign businesses. But there is this huge problem, which is especially shown in winter, the smog. EU standards everything above 50 PM (Particulate Matter) will cause serious damages to your health. Well here in Skopje it goes up to 300 PM. So instead of investing in filters for factories or making the country run on gas like a lot of other EU countries, or making laws for the old cars (yes, the Yugo is still very common here) the government cares more about tourism than its own people.
And even though the mentality of Dutch differs from Macedonians, I never regret moving abroad here in Macedonia. Of course there are downsides, every country has them, but the fact that I’m close to beautiful nature and living in the rough, crowded, divers and smoggy city Skopje, is awesome! And all the people who I have met along the way are one by one wonderful people.