Fox News has recently featured a map of Balkans with all the state names and borders mixed up. Of course, it ended up in the news here, because we always get offended if someone does something like that: is it because they hate us and don’t care or are they just too busy with other crap news? Anyway, we – the people from the Balkans – should have got used to this by now, but we haven’t. Serbia-Siberia, Slovenia-Slovakia, Macedonia-Greece are very common confusions, and the Bosnian regional division is even more complex than that of Belgium.
So if you are about to have a conversation with someone from the Balkans and don’t know where Balkans is located, here are some things you should be aware of.
The Balkans person will most definitely laugh at your geographical ignorance
The person from the Balkans will be thoroughly shocked that you don’t know exactly where his or her country is located. The notion that everyone in the world must know where the Balkans is, comes from the fact that most Balkanians know pretty well where most other countries in the world are located. This happens because of the Balkanian school systems that focuses more on the encyclopaedia-style learning than actually practical and useful stuff that will help you in your future life. A good line to say at the end: “Fascinating.”
Balkans geography is difficult to comprehend even for locals
Be prepared to understand only that the Balkans is located somewhere in Europe. If the person is coming from the former Yugoslavia, it’s safe to wonder off from the conversation while the former Yugoslav explains how all the countries and municipalities peacefully separated from one another in a bloody, hundred year’s war. At the end of the explanation it’s smart to say something to the lines of “Terrible.”
On the other hand, Balkanians are impressed if you know anything about their country
Learn some basic stuff about geography and you’ll be a king. The latest trendy thing to says is that the Balkans is in south-eastern Europe. Whoever coined this one up probably thought that “south Europe” sounds too exotic while just “Eastern Europe” sounds too Russian. If this is still too complicated for you, remember it’s also good enough to pretend that you know Balkans is “somewhere near Italy”.
So there you have it, a short guide to dealing with a geographically superior Balkan person. Good luck!