#HeyWhatsItLike... to travel when you’re from a small country.
In my experience, most people don’t really know where Kosovo is. Lots of people say they do but when you ask them a follow up question, they can’t name a city or point to it on a map. In fact, many people I’ve met think Kosovo is in Russia. Even at customs, they really check your passport, as if to say: I’ve never seen this passport before, what is it doing here? It’s not a good feeling. You almost feel as if you... don’t exist.
I don’t blame people—after all, there are small countries of which I know nothing. But in Kosovo’s case, it’s especially frustrating because of how people only associate us with the war. The global media reported on the war period, but didn’t report on the 17 years since then; on how we have rebuilt our country and our economy.
So as I’ve travelled the world, I’ve tried to show people different aspects of my culture. When I studied in Chicago, I organized an independence party where we shared traditional food, music and stories. I also organized a screening of Shok – a Kosovo-UK film nominated for Oscar’s short action film. Generally, I think people want to learn about different cultures but most of the time they just need something to connect them.