Dear Soon-to-be-Balkan-Traveler…

Dear Soon-to-be-Balkan-Traveler,

You are likely unaware of your luck in scoring this trip of a lifetime, but I must warn you of one thing: approximately four weeks before you depart for the Balkans, please do yourself a favor and start increasing your coffee intake. In particular, if the youthful city of Pristina is amongst your destinations, take careful notes. In Pristina, preparing and consuming coffee in style is a practice all citizens undertake. Ask any Kosovan about Pristina’s coffee culture, and they will be quick to inform you that Pristina makes the best macchiato in the world: it’s all in the froth allegedly. Just a Euro will get you one of those small jolts of heaven with a puffy cloud of milk, unassumingly yet delectably gracing the forefront of your gaze. While you’re charting your caffeine consumption patterns pre-takeoff, you might as well begin collecting copious Euros for coffee change. You are going to want to say, “macchiato, ju lutem” day and night. Would you like to go out with friends? One must drink coffee. Would you like to people-watch from one of the many sidewalk cafés? One must drink coffee. Would you like to marry a Kosovan? One must learn to make coffee.

On the topic of making coffee, we must turn our attention to Pristina’s Turkish coffee, as this is the decoction you will need to recreate to indulge your Kosovan spouse. I stand corrected: you need to learn Turkish coffee methodology to indulge yourself.  The coffee addict inside must also be fed from your own home;  am I right? Grab a tin of coffee, a grinder, your soon-to-grow biceps, a traditional xhezve pot, and get practicing. Do not stress, but perfecting your handling of the xhezve may even come in handy at the workplace. At my summer internship in Pristina the first xhezve hit the stove not even five minutes into the day. A friendly peak around the corner from my co-worker would welcome me to the first of three office-wide coffee breaks of the day. This common occurrence in Pristina’s offices is an undervalued way of cultivating teamwork and positive relations amongst employees. During my two-month internship, I estimate that I spent approximately three hundred hours with my mouth engulfed in rich Turkish coffee cream. They were hours I certainly do not regret, and I guarantee you won’t either. I wish you a wonderfully caffeinated Balkan adventure.



P.S. Repayments for this advice are welcome in cups of coffee. I’d love to reminisce across steaming mugs about football, friendly faces, and all those jaw dropping views that stop you mid-step. Gëzuar and sretan put!



Renée Picard ’17 is a Government major in her final semester at Smith College. She is driven by a curiosity in in security studies, foreign affairs, and post-socialist states. Her travels and work in the Balkans impels her to share her love of the cultures with anyone she meets. If she is not completely immersed in a book on the region, you can find her searching for new travel deals, hitting the New England trails, or trying to perfect her brunch recipes.

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