my experience as a black woman travelling Kosovo. Also intended for black people living in Kosovo.

Being a black person in Kosovo – A black traveler’s experience

Before I get into what it’s like being a black person traveling in Kosovo, I should let you know that this post is actually part of a series on my blog called Being a Black Traveler in Eastern Europe and Slavic Europe by Country.

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 Kosovo?

Oh Kosovo… where do I begin with you? Kosovo is where I have had the craziest interactions with people. To be honest, it often felt a bit unruly at times. Like I said in the section about Albania in my post about being black in Eastern Europe, Albanians in Kosovo are a little more intense and excitable towards foreigners than Albanians in Albania (Albanians are the ethnic majority in Kosovo, which was historically a region of Serbia).

I should say here, I love Kosovo and can’t wait to go back. But it’s just my experience and observation that some Kosovar Albanians are a little whackier. 

Of all the places I have traveled to, it was Kosovo where I felt like strangers were most aggressive in trying to meet me, talk to me, hit on me and even kiss me. I would walk down the street and be cat-called at least two or three times a day, which as a woman, I am used to, so I never felt extremely uncomfortable with it. But that behavior was a lot more prevalent in Kosovo than anywhere else I’ve been to in Eastern Europe. …Because, don’t get me started on Latin America!

Here are just two of the “crazy things that happened to me in Kosovo” stories:

  1. The night I arrived, I couldn’t find my accommodation and I didn’t have international calling on my phone. So I asked the first seemingly kind stranger I could find to borrow his phone so that I could call my accommodation for directions. He let me borrow his phone, but no one answered when I called. A few minutes later, his phone started ringing. It was my accommodation calling him back. I was so excited, but he didn’t hand me the phone. Instead, he held up the phone, pointed to the green arrow on the screen, and said, “You, give me kiss, I press this. You don’t give me kiss, I press this,” now pointing to the red arrow to reject the call. I was so shocked. He was very serious and when I insisted I wouldn’t kiss him, he pressed the red arrow and rejected the call.  
  2. I went to a bar one night with a guy friend that I met in Prishtina.  At the bar, there were these VIP rich guys behind us and they kept buying me and my guy friend drinks. I thought that was so nice and assumed it was because maybe they rarely see black people and that was their way of welcoming me. But later, my friend told me that one of the guys that kept buying us drinks told him that they would pay him 1000 euros if my friend would disappear so that they could have me for the night. Haha. Maybe I shouldn’t laugh at that.

So yeah, I had a higher frequency of things like that happen to me in Kosovo. Despite that, I still love the place. The point of these anecdotes is to say that moreso in  other countries, black women are considered super exotic in Kosovo and you might have a higher frequency of meeting people who are immature or inappropriate in handling meeting you. 

Click here to go back to my series on being a black traveler in Eastern Europe and slavic countries. 

black person travel guideAre 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.