k4I have been living in Montenegro for more than 45 years and I have often been thinking about the differences between the Montenegrins – which also refers to my own children and grandchildren who consider themselves Montenegrins – and people from Western Europe, in particular from Holland. Well, I must say that most Montenegrins are not very different from Western people in the way they perceive things or in their desired lifestyle. However, there are certain peculiarities, which mainly emerge from old times and traditions. If you are a foreigner and you decide to come and live in Montenegro, you can use this blog post as a guideline!

In Holland there is a very typical saying: “Frugality with diligence builds houses like castles”. This is one of the reasons why I left Holland when I was 20 years old. I just did not like the way of living: working hard, saving money, always obeying numerous rules and regulations, paying all kinds of insurance and tax necessary to “buy” your complete security… In my opinion, the fact that almost everything was predictable – at least in the times when I was young – made life boring.

me3In Montenegro I learned that life is not only money and exposure, security and stability. I also learned the meaning of SOLIDARITY. People are taking care of each other, they help their relatives and friends in case of need. And that is, of course, the logical consequence of poverty, but also of the fact that Montenegro has been a tribal society for ages. It has always been a tradition to be there for the members of your family, tribe and clan. Moreover, the state obviously does not have money to build homes for elderly persons or for handicapped children; old-age pensions do not enable a normal standard of living; it is very difficult to get a loan from the bank, etc. What a difference with the Netherlands! Thanks to the excellent system of social and health care, Dutch people do not depend on family or friends – the state resolves all problems. Unfortunately, nowadays many things are changing in Western Europe and people are asked to “participate” in health and social care.

me6In the meantime, I have become familiar with some typical character features of the Montenegrins. First of all,  Montenegrins are  LAZY, or we might also say  that they have a special attitude towards work. Most Dutch people feel an internal need to work, they feel guilty when they don’t have “obligations” (this also refers to me…) – Montenegrins enjoy doing nothing, sitting for hours in a pub and discussing all possible world issues, just waiting until they get a chance to earn money in an easy and fast way. Of course, I am well aware of the fact that the younger generations have changed.

I have always had a very high opinion about the GENEROSITY of Montenegrins and I highly appreciate their HOSPITALITY. It is always difficult to explain to Dutch friends how to behave when they are invited for a meal in Montenegro. I recommend them to leave some food on their plate and leave their glass full, otherwise they will end up badly…  Why? Because an empty plate or glass is the sign that the guest did not eat or drink enough – which means that the host has not fulfilled his traditional obligations! Sometimes it is also necessary to explain that it would be nice to reciprocate the host in a certain way…

me4What else could I say about the Montenegrins? They are not only tall and handsome (the average height for males is 186 and for females 171 cm), but also VERY PROUD and SELF-CONFIDENT. Don’t talk to them about their vices, many of them think they are perfect. You will often hear from them that their clan has played a special role in Montenegrin history and they can tell you all the details about their ancestors. What a difference with Holland where “boasting” is a sign of bad education!

Many things have changed in Montenegro in the previous decades. But Western individualism still has not found its way into Montenegrin society. Like before, the whole country is interconnected and almost everyone knows everyone else. I still have the impression that Montenegro is one large family…

As I have not mentioned Montenegrin women and family life, this will be the topic of another blog post!




5 Comment

  1. […] importance on the people’s mind, despite the changes in the last decades (see my blog posts: People of Montenegro and Women of […]

  2. Barb Silva says: Reply

    Interesting…..reading this from central California….your country seems beautiful…..

  3. Vintage_negro says: Reply

    Eh, steeped in tradition and deeply logical… Nothing gets done without serious thought…
    Things you didn’t mention… they love to fight… but due to laziness will usually turn up late or after the war is over.
    Sport is a way of life… and not just one sport but every sport.
    Note: – You only have about 500k pure blood Montengrins in the world. The rest are Russian Immo’s, Albanians, Kosovo refugee’s etc.
    So if you find one who is pure blood you need to understand that these people are experts in survival.

  4. says: Reply

    Do you think that socialism had an affect on the work ethic of the citizens?

    1. Well, I’m not sure. The fact that it was almost impossible to lose your job in socialist times certainly plays a role. But so does the hot climate. Work ethics are always higher, when a person is independent and works for his own company, while it is lower in case of civil servants – also in the EU! Being Dutch, I believe that the protestant religion also influences work ethics. I still feel guilty when I don’t ‘work’! And you can believe me: Montenegrins don’t!

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