I am new-opener of Macedonian culture, Ukrainian short-term volunteer in Sfera organization. I wonder to share with you my first impression of this wonderful country.
Macedonia is a small country, but despite its obscurity, it has many advantages: good location, warm climate, hospitable people, cheap for Europe prices. Personally, I did not even hear about it before my volunteer exchange and it’s a pity for me. But at the same time, the absence of any stereotypes about this country helped me to understand it better. For me, Ukraine and Macedonia are very similar. I noticed this immediately after leaving the airport … The language seemed familiar, so I could snatch some familiar words from the conversation of people passing by. Architecture is also close to Ukrainian, with the exception of mosques that are typical for Turkish culture. Maybe I’m wrong because a month is not enough to sum up but for me, Macedonia is a mix of Turkish and Ukrainian cultures. Everything I love just in one bottle!
Especially I would like to mark the nature, it is really incredible here. The western part of the country is strewn with mountain giants and all this in combination with beautiful lakes, rivers, rare animals, and plants, like Magnolia or Chinese cherry that you couldn`t see in Ukraine. I already had the opportunity to visit Matka Canyon and Pelister, and I’m just in shock of their beauty. The next item should be Ohrid that was so much recommended for me by the locals. The eastern part of the country is also awesome but is famous mostly for its historical and architectural places. I am curious to visit it as well.
Talking about cuisine it was not that much special for me but I would like to highlight traditional Grafche Tafche and Makalo – dishes you must try. I was fortunate enough to try homemade cuisine and it was very delicious. So, I propose everyone to feel this paradise taste. The most important product of Macedonian cuisine is cheese. It is an integral part of almost every baking and dish. So, you will love it in any case!)
I’m in love with this country, it makes me feel like at home. And firstly, this feeling is due to people who met on my path. The most important features of character I identified in Macedonians are kindness, openness, and willingness to help. Most locals speak English very well and it`s immediately melted the ice in our hearts and made conversation very enjoyable. But even if language difficulties were encountered, citizens were always searching for a solution: gestured or found a person speaking in English. It was extremely pleasant for me! I will keep in mind Macedonia for hospitable of its inhabitants.
Also, I would like to break the stereotype of hitchhiking and couch surfing. We did not encounter any difficulties, although we tried to travel this way for the first time. For me, these trips were the most memorable and pleasant and again because of the people that we were happy to meet.
A very interesting fact to me was that there are a lot of emigrants from the English-speaking countries who come here for volunteering or working. They always left very good feedback about Macedonia and told that consider this country very good to stay in.
I am sure that Macedonia has huge but not yet fulfilled potential. But still, it’s an incredibly beautiful and hospitable country to which I would like to be back again and again!