While in Serbia this summer I was constantly brainstorming possible ideas for blog posts. After being back in Toronto and in the swing of things, the final post idea I chose just made sense. I hope you enjoy the following post about a main difference in cultures and hanging out with friends between Toronto & Belgrade.
Imagine a world where you go out with your group of friends and at the end of the night, it’s not a question of whether the bill is split or together. In this alternate universe, it switches between friends who covers the bill when you go out as a group. This crazy world can actually be found in Europe, more specifically Belgrade.
This past summer I got to go out with my cousins and my best friend in Belgrade from casual drinks, to dinner to coffee etc. And in every scenario we did not pay nor did the same person pay every night. This might be a shocking factor to us North Americans but for my cousins, it’s a normal thing that happens on a weekly basis when they get together with their friends. At first, my friend and I brought up the fact that it’s way cheaper in Serbia to go out. A night out that includes a large pizza and a beer will cost you … $15. But my cousins reminded us that with their paycheques are essentially the same amount for them as it is for us. Let me paint you a picture. It’s a Friday night, you and your four friends are going out for dinner, at the end of the night it’s not even a question if it is “together or separate”. One person will foot the bill. The bill in North America for a night out with four friends will total around $100 (with tax and tip included). Seems crazy for one person to pay for the entire table when the bill is triple digits, while in Serbia the same night out would roughly cost around $40. So it’s easy to say that “no wonder they can pay for the entire table, it’s so cheap!”. My cousins made sure to inform us that although it might be cheap for us North Americans but for them it’s just the same as our $100. For locals, the total is still expensive but they still pay for their friends. Why? Because they usually go out with the same group of friends where they rotate whose turn it is to pay.
This is a major difference between cultures. It is all too common to hear friends in Canada making plans two weeks in advance to go out while in Serbia you can see someone and decide to go out that night or the following night. So why can’t we adopt this in Canada? Well, I can only speak for myself but for starters, I don’t have a consistent group of friends. With the group of girlfriends, I do try to see regularly, it’s hard for all six of our schedules to match up. I know that everyone would be careful to see what everyone is ordering to make sure they don’t order something too expensive or make sure that the bill they cover is equal or less than what someone else had paid for. You run the risk of being friends with someone who prefers being on the receiving end and ordering high. But that is just how the culture is like for our social gatherings here in Canada. That is why I love going out in Serbia when I do get a chance to visit, because it’s more of a community.