Paula Cooper – Trajkovski is a girl who left her hometown of Charleston, South Carolina, and in the name of love decided to live here. She first visited Macedonia in 2010, and moved here in 2012. She has a two-year son and sells jewelry online. She loves that the Macedonian people respect culture and tradition. She loves the safety and the way people live here. Although, as she told Republika, she believes that people should keep an open mind towards diversity.
When did you first come to Macedonia?
The very first time that I came to Macedonia was in July 2010 for a few weeks. It was my first vacation and the first time I met my husband’s family. I officially moved here in 2012.
You come from a country with different culture and tradition than Macedonia. How did you manage to adapt to the life here? How did you decide to stay in Macedonia?
For me, I decided early on that I would remember why I moved here and not let anything or anyone get in the way of that. I moved here because I fell in love and that purpose was enough to try and make it work in my eyes. I respect the people here and I am open to my husband’s culture, traditions, and holidays. In return he is open to mine. I’m really able to adapt here because he and his family are so supportive. I am able to be myself and make my own friends as well….I am who I am and have had the opportunity to live away from home so being flexible and figuring out how to make my life here work hasn’t been that hard. I try to ignore the negativity and remember that my family is the most important thing to me and I focus on that.
Do Macedonian people provide help when you need it?
Again, I think my in-laws helped in their own way. My husband’s family as a whole in general has been very welcoming to me and they love my son. His friends have been a great help and my friends have also been there when I needed them to be. I really have the best in-laws a girl can ask for and I do consider my sister-in-law to be someone that I could talk to about anything just like I can talk to my sister back home about anything and that is a great feeling.
What is your opinion about the Macedonian people?
There are positives and there are negatives. I think that there are some nice Macedonian people in general here and they just want to know your story. I’ve been to Macedonian weddings here and it’s been awesome. I love that when it comes to traditions and events, the people pride themselves on visitors having a good time at their functions. I love that the country tends to be safer as well and I do like how the people take time out for coffee and conversation. Unfortunately there are some people here who aren’t very open minded and who aren’t as nice to me when I’m out by myself. People say mean things to me sometimes, they laugh, they call me the n-word, they point, they yell out stupid things…it doesn’t happen all the time but it happens enough to where it’s a problem. I don’t think people realize how much it takes for someone like me to live here. It’s a lot, you have to be strong. I left my home, my family, and my friends. I opened my mind up to something different. I give respect to people so I’d like that in return. I also feel like there is a lack of respect for elderly, the handicapped or people with disabilities. I’ve seen it with my own eye and it makes me sad…..I mean I see people parking in handicapped parking spaces here and I think that is so wrong. I want Macedonians to know that it doesn’t matter what someone looks like, or what physical limitations they may have… everyone deserves respect.
Do you like the Macedonian cuisine?
The food here is wonderful. I love the stuffed peppers, moussaka, skara (grill), sutlijas (rice pudding), and shopska salad. The wines are incredible as well. My husband’s mother made it very easy for me to like Macedonian food because she is honestly the best cook in Macedonia. I have not tasted any food better than hers!
How much free time do you have to travel across Macedonia? What do you think, which are the best places to visit in Macedonia?
I have my own website called Noa Personalized Jewelry (www.noa.jewelry) and I have a two year old son, my husband and I have to plan around that. I have a very flexible schedule so we’ve had a chance to visit a few places in Macedonia. I really like Ohrid. It’s a beautiful old city and I’ve never eaten trout before I went there. It was delicious. I also like Berovo…the air is fresh and the food is great there.
Do you miss your home country?
Of course. I miss many things. I miss calmer driving and easier parking. I miss my family and my friends but the great thing about that is technology. Technology allows me to keep the lines of communication there. The great things about my loved ones back home is that they support my happiness.
What are your plans, are you staying in Macedonia?
As of right now we are staying in Macedonia. We never know what the future holds but for us today we are where we’re suppose to be at this point in time. I really like living in Macedonia and hope that the positives continue to outweigh the negatives.