Day #4

Day #4 in Kosovo begins.

We had a big snowstorm last night: looks like around 4″ of snow on the ground. Evidently, there aren’t any city provisions for removing the accumulation, so vehicles and pedestrians just do the best they can…as is the case with everything else here.

I now have cable and internet with a loaner TV coming today from one of my theatre colleagues. More channels (many in English) and faster internet (20 Mgbs) than I’ve ever had for about 1/3 of what I would pay in the U.S.

For the time being, I am staying at a brand new dorm at the university. One wing is reserved for visiting faculty and guests. As dorm rooms go, they are quite nice and comfortable…and close to campus, secured, no utilities, more consistent power and water…but there is no kitchen, not even a communal one. (There is a fridge, and I bought a water heater/teapot to make instant coffee.) Since we are between terms, the radiators in each room are not “on,” so I had to buy a heater (electric oil radiator type). But the price is 150€ per month–about 1/4 of what I had expected to spend. Of course, now I’ll have to spend much more on eating and laundry. The pros just seemed to outweigh the cons. Plus, there shouldn’t be so many issues with neighbor noise and ambient smoke as in a private setting.

Prishtina has somewhere between 500K and 1 million residents packed together in a mountain valley. Most homes are heated by wood fire (like at the farm). Fire (wood) smoke is horrible and inescapable at night and ambient cigarette smoke is 24/7. (My mental picture of Prishtina thus far is a person chain-smoking indoors while seated under a no-smoking sign; seriously, you see that everywhere, even in this dorm. I think I may have to get an inhaler (asthma) if I continue with the chest tightness and discomfort I’ve had since arriving. And everyone smokes in restaurants. Yuck!

Conversely, and on a positive note, the only people I see drinking (or drunk) are the internationals (non-Kosovars). Alcohol just isn’t a big part of the Kosovar culture (even college!); those precious Euros go to cigarettes instead. I see why many of the locals resent the internationals here, who seem to have and waste lots of money and who drink too much (which is considered impolite and decadent/wasteful).

Very few women wear headscarves here. There are quite a few mosques but the atmosphere is more like what I experienced in much of western Europe, where religion is part of the cultural heritage but not really part of daily life for most people.

Shopping is very limited by our standards. Prices are less than we’d pay for most items, but there just isn’t much availability/selection. I hate to say it, but something akin to a Wal-Mart would be like the Garden of Eden. But, I’m glad there are no McDonalds, KFC, and Burger Kings which were in all the other cities I visited. Yuck again.

I bought a winter coat in Skopje (Macedonia) on the trip and have worn it since. Cost about $80. Now I must buy some boots for this wintery slush.

About David McTier

Professor of Theatre Department of Theatre & Musical Theatre Sam Houston State University