A Macedonian Darko Micevski is a FC ‘Minsk’ linebacker. The 25 years-old has been living in Minsk within 3 months – isn’t long enough to explore the culture and mentality thoroughly. But during that time he has noticed that people in Belarus are hard-working, they have ‘difficult’ relationships with fashion and drink too much alcohol. He shares how this country looks from the foreigner’s point of view.
– I came in Minsk at 8 March – on International Women’s Day which is also celebrated in Macedonia. Almost every year I had to change football club due to poor funding or my desire to new challenge. For example, in 2013 I played for Macedonian Teteks. I scored a singular goal in the final of the national Cup thus, and it helped my team became a champion.
‘In Belarus there are very serious problems with English.’
Darko found new challenge for him amd chose Belarusian football club. According to him the Balkan mentality affects his attitude to football. Serbian and Macedonian football players are more relaxed and lazy than Belarusian.
– We became spoilt with the sun and don’t really want to work to improve ourselves. Although, in the Balkan countries, perhaps, the number of talented young people among the football players is bigger.
It was really interesting for me to plunge into new culture and language environment. Before FC Minsk I had a chance to play for Slovenia and Serbia football clubs. But I took a decision and had thousands of kilometers to play for the Belarusian team. You are extremely hard-working and disciplined, due to, perhaps, your history. Frankly speaking, I have had to get used to great workloads in FC Minsk. The Belarusians are more serious, and I would like to say that it is really cool. But sometimes you need to be more easy-going and open-minded. For example, In Macedonia when we see foreigners we can walk up to them and begin to communicate. In Minsk it is hard to find.
The FC ‘Minsk footballer found accomodation through the agency. He settled down nearby the club stadium and was pleasantly surprised with community services prices in Belarus.
– The accomodation price is almost twice as high as in Skopje: in Minsk I pay about 800 Belarusian Rubles for two room flat, but in Skopje I could pay for it 400 Belarusian Rubles only. People say that Macedonia is one of the poorest European countries. There’s some truth because we have a low standard of living: the average wage is about EUR 205-300. Do you have a similar wage in Belarus? Oh, I’ m surprised because I thought that it is higher. From my point of view, in Belarus the cost of living is inexpensive: for example, the community services prices are significantly cheaper than in the Balkans. In Minsk I pay 60 Belarusian Rubles per month and for the Macedonian it’s just a joke. In winter we pay community services bills about EUR 200.
For the first time it was difficult to adopt: I didn’t speak Russian, but I understood many things and could read fragments. I think that in some months I will speak Russian without any problems. I’m ready to communicate Russian even today but I’m a perfectionist so I’m ashamed of mistakes and funny accent. Therefore I will speak only perfect Russian. In Serbia, eventually, I became able to speak Serbian as native speaker although it was a very difficult language for me. Nobody recognized that I’m not Serbian. Belarus is the only country in the world with its own language, in which people prefer speaking other language, doesn’t it? Before relocation I have been thinking that you speak Belarusian and haven’t been worried as it is very similar to Russian.
In Belarus I had very serious problems with English. I was really shocked that people almost don’t speak English.
– It’s unbelievable in the 21th Century! Only one footballer knows English. I would lose my mind if nobody spoke English. In countries where I have been travelling, people know Basic English and understand each other but in Belarus I faced with situation when English as international language doesn’t help.
‘Minsk saves ‘Soviet style of life’ because of unfashionable men, architecture and large number of police in the streets.’
Darko has been exploring the information about Belarus, Minsk and of course about team where he was going to play.
– It was really interesting for me to search information about Belarus. Minsk in real life didn’t differ from Minsk in pictures. The city is very clear and green. Perhaps, parks make Minsk look like European cities. I like to relax in the Victory Park. Recently, my girlfriend has been visiting me so she also liked the city. The main disadvantage of living in Belarus is rainy weather. The Balkans don’t like rain, for Belarus it is a typical weather.
Darko pointed out that men and women differ in their attitude towards fashion.
– Belarusian girls try to look their best in any situation. The Macedonian girls chose casual style to go the café and hills keep for parties. I don’t want to judge neither the Belarusian girls nor Macedonian girls but I have my own opinion: there is no necessity to look glamorous if the occasion gives you a chance to look casual.
And I would like to say that Belarusian men are trapped in the past. They contrast with local fashion girls. Frankly speaking, I was shocked with local men style of dress. Even if you don’t know how to look stylish you can use internet and find some tips. Perhaps, it’s nonsense for me to meet men in soviet dress because the 21st century is.
When I stay in Minsk, I begin thinking that I travel back in time. Minsk keeps soviet style because of unfashionable men, architectural style and big number of police. By the way, why there are so many policemen? Is there any kind of threat?
The footballer is keen on cinema and TV shows. Darko says that he wishes the Minsk’s cinemas showed the movies in the original language with subtitles as it happens in most of the European countries. It would make Darko very happy.
– I don’t know exactly in which countries the film screening with Russian film dubbing (maybe, in Russia, Ukraine and post-Soviet countries) practices. When I watch films I want to hear the actor’s voice but not Russian alternate. I watch TV shows on the internet, because in Belarus there are no English-speaking channels. In my opinion this is the main reason why people can’t speak English. As for me, I learned it thanks to movies. In Macedonia we have only 10 channels with the Macedonian language but others are English – speaking.
Darko says that Minsk reminds him his native city Skopje, but the Belarusian capital two times bigger.
– Although sometimes it is very tiring I don’t see any problems in spending 40 minutes on public transport. I often use it and easily deal with stations because the Russian and Macedonian alphabets are very similar. I like Minsk and I would stay here longer than one year.
After the end of my career I’m definitely returning to Skopje because I want to live in my home country. Of course we have problems: the government had a political crisis. But in my opinion Macedonia is a good country for living. I think that the Macedonian standard of living is comparable with other Balkan countries. Surely young people, as in Belarus, go to more developed European countries for higher earnings (for example, German or Sweden), but it’s not about all people.
‘It’s unusual for me that almost everyone buys alcohol in Minsk’s supermarkets.’
In Darko’s opinion the Macedonians and Belarusians have a similar life style: we like spending our free time with friends in the bars.
– But the Belarusians drink more. For the first time I came in Minsk it was unusual for me that almost everyone bought alcohol in Minsk’s supermarkets. For Macedonia it is nonsense.
In Macedonia is allowed to sell alcohol only after 7 p.m. It doesn’t make any sense because if someone wants to buy alcohol he will do it even at 6 p.m. In my opinion we have another drinking alcohol culture. In Macedonia people drink alcohol in the bars with friends on evenings – it’s common for the European countries.
But in Minsk I see that people buy alcohol even in the afternoon. For why? In Minsk I can meet drunken people or those who drink on the move at noon. I don’t know if it connects with economic problems in country. As for me, I don’t understand how people spend their last 20 Belarusian Rubles on alcohol. Yes, it helps to forget about problems for the short time. But I’m sure that people have to solve their problems in other way. There is no panacea from that trouble – just everyone has to begin from himself and personally be responsible for his life.
Original text was published by TUT.by