Initial Impressions

I now have finished my first week in Prishtinë. Arriving in a new city in the dead of winter is challenging, even more so when there are two major snowstorms. Still, I have fared well, much thanks to the assistance of the locals here, who seem to assume that I’m German until I speak; then, they’re all the happier to discover that I’m American. (This hasn’t happened anywhere else I’ve been in Europe.)

Although there are a few mosques nearby, the city and its people appear secularized. (I see more women with headscarves back in Texas than here.) Most folks I encounter in the center of the city are smartly dressed with black dominating the palette.

There is little in the cityscape that evidences a recent war, although the roads and sidewalks are in serious disrepair. Cars park on the sidewalks, and pedestrians fare as best as they can. Driving here is aggressive but alert and, even with all the snow and ice, I’ve encountered only one minor accident. Taxis are comparatively inexpensive, although most will charge (or offer to charge) a flat 5€ to go anywhere outside the heart of the city.

Major roads leading into the city are inundated with construction projects with recently completed retail centers on the road to Skopje as well as to the airport.

The other Americans I’ve met here all say that this is an incredibly safe city: violent crime is virtually non-existent, although burglaries are not uncommon.

Overall, food is less expensive, but there is also less selection and variety. Clothing and household goods are more expensive, and rent is comparable to Houston.

The city still experiences outages of electricity and water. (Here at the UP dorm, I have inconsistent heat, no water after midnight, but haven’t lost electricity during the past week.

I have had some minor stomach problems: churning stomach, loose bowels…but not diarrhea, thank goodness. I drink only bottled water and I boil (teapot) water for coffee. Most days, I eat where the locals do as opposed to the more expensive eateries frequented by the internationals. I figure, “when in Rome”…

Overall, quite happy although stymied by the weather and the difficulties and dangers of getting around on foot.

Oh…did I forget to say, these people really, really love Americans!

About David McTier

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