The perks of coming from a small country

by Igor Bosilkovski

It was an awesome conversation. Much better then your regular person-I-met-waiting-at-the- carwash- talk. Up until that moment.

   Girl: So where’s your accent from?

   Me: Macedonia.

   Girl: I’ve never heard of it.

That was the sentence. The killer. It didn’t confuse me. I’ve heard it many times. And always I get the same reaction. My heart throbs in pain.

I’m not angry at the Ohio girl for not knowing Macedonia. After all, it’s a two million country in the Southern Europe, about 5,000 miles away from Columbus. Yet, I couldn’t help, but wish I was from a place that’s more well known.

Nevertheless, thinking about this topic and putting different things into perspective made me realize that there are some really cool stuff and very unique perks that being from a really small country entails.

Number one, it’s exotic. You can surprise your friends with some delicious meal they’ve never heard of. Ajvar, shopska, turshija… You’ll probably break your tongue trying to pronounce them, but once that stuff is in your mouth you won’t even consider talking.

You can name drop a few famous faces that many people have no idea come from your country. What if I tell you Mother Theresa was born in my hometown? In Skopje, the capital of Macedonia in 1910. Oh yeah, Alexander The Great is from Macedonia too.

There are some really unusual places in very small countries that can fascinate you with their awesomeness. Did you know that Ohrid Lake is the oldest and one of the deepest lakes in Europe that was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO? Or that the Vrelo Cave is the deepest underwater cave in the world? Or that, speaking about caves, Peshna near Makedonski Brod was described by New York Times as looking exactly like Helm’s Deep from “Lord of the Rings?” Or that according to NASA, the archaeological site Kokino is the fourth oldest astronomy observatory in the world? Cool stuff.

Another advantage of coming from a small country is that since there aren’t many of us, people feel deep connection to their fellow Macedonians. For example, it was a huge success for the entire country when earlier this year, Pero Antic became the first Macedonian who signed a contract with an NBA team, the Hawks. Suddenly, the entire nation started cheering for Atlanta, and Pero has stated many times that in whatever American city he plays, there is a loyal group of few Macedonians cheering for him (I am personally guilty of this on two occasions, once against the Lakers and once against the Clippers.)

A few days ago, I met a highly successful American businessman of Macedonian origin. Not only did we immediately have things to talk about, but further along the conversation he stated that, since there’s such a small number of Macedonians in California, when a fellow countryman is in a need of job he tries to take care of it. How awesome is that?!

Finally, it allows you to get creative. By the time my car was washed, I managed to convince the Ohio girl that Macedonia is a small island next to Galapagos where the leading branch of the economy is exporting tuna and where monkeys are fairly common domestic pets.  

She said it sounded awesome and that she’ll Google Macedonia once she goes home. It’s been two week and she hasn’t texted me. I guess she didn’t like my joke.

+ posts