Before I get into what it’s like being a black person traveling in Albania, I should let you know that this post is actually part of a longer post on my blog called Being a Black Traveler in Eastern Europe and Slavic Europe by country.
That is why this summary of my experience as a black traveler in Albania is not so long. So check out the whole Eastern Europe post when you are done.
Disclaimer 1: I am a tall, thin, American girl who wears a lot of make-up and cute dresses. I am sure that being an “exotic” girl in Eastern Europe contributes to my mostly positive experience, and a lot of my black female friends have had similar experiences. Although, being an “exotic” girl can often be exhausting and uncomfortable around immature people with little diverse life experiences, but for the most part, it is positive. So as you read my experiences, keep in mind that my gender and my nationality, I am sure, can sometimes play a part in how I am treated.
Disclaimer 2: Let me also say immediately, I have seen no racism in Eastern Europe towards myself or other black people I am friends with or simply know of–whether they’re light skinned, dark skinned, African expats or tourists, or black expats or tourists from Western countries.
Racism particularly is a learned behavior passed down from generations of families in western countries where there are generations of black citizens to practice racism, discrimination and segregation on. Eastern Europeans haven’t had centuries to develop these institutionalized and social habits. So while of course, yes, you may hear the odd story or two of one bad apple being racially inappropriate…. Compared to the thousands and thousands of horrendous incidences, crimes, police brutalities, corruption and horror stories coming from USA and Britain–Eastern Europe is as harmless as a fly. Please remember that.
Okay, so what is it like being a black girl traveling in Albania?
I got stared at a lot in Albania, as I do in all the Balkan countries. But I did not get approached as much or receive inquiries about why I am in Albania as much as I did in some other Eastern Europe countries. I also did not get any selfie requests… imagine that! Long story short, I got a lot of stares, but was mostly left alone.
You might also like: The Stuff the Internet Forgot to Tell Me about the Albanian Riviera
If you are traveling to Kosovo, I should let you know that I think Albanians in Kosovo are more intense towards foreigners than Albanians in Albania (Albanians are the ethnic majority in Kosovo, which historically was part of Serbia). I don’t mean that to be rude. And many Albanians in Albania said the same thing about Kosovar Albanians. I felt like they were throwing them under the bus a bit. You can read about my experience in Kosovo by checking out my post about my experiences in each Eastern European country.
Are you a black woman interested in living in an Eastern European country, or any foreign country really, but worried about logistics such as getting your hair done, finding your favorite make-up products, culturally awkward dating, etc.? Check out my Black Girl Traveler Survival Guide
if you are interested to know how I work around living in a country that doesn’t have all the comforts of home for black women.