As I sit at Cheers with Coldplay’s song “Paradise” filling the air, I reflect on my first week “living” in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Paradijs (pronounced just like “paradise”) is the Bosnian word for tomato. I hate to get too cheesy here, but that seems to be a metaphor for the mix of my American culture and what I’m used to, and the Bosnian culture I’m surrounded with (fantastic tomatoes, by the way). I’ve done this international travel thing before. I’ve left my home and the people close to me for a new setting and a new set of people. You would think that each time it would get easier. I’d learn how to navigate a new place, how much sleep I’d need, and how long I can be in groups of people before it becomes necessary to step back for some introspection. Traveling is not that easy; a fact that is both refreshing and (honestly) a bit frustrating. I’ve had new experiences and also a few situations of déjà vu from my previous visit to Sarajevo.
The people are really what make a place a place, and the people here are kind, family oriented and generous. They are sometimes hesitant to trust a foreigner, but I would feel much the same if my town was a tourist destination. Our first days here were lovely; discovering new places and drinking plenty of kahfa (for about 50 cents each!) My supervisor at my internship is wonderful, teaching us how to use transportation to and from the organization (not an easy feat) and assigning projects according to my and my colleagues’ interests. I’ve only had two days at my placement, but I’m very much looking forward to the next two months with Wings of Hope.
Fun fact: Pita is a Bosnian specialty, made with fillo dough stuffed with a variety of fillings. Burek is a specific kind of pita, made with meat. Pita also comes in other varieties such as krompir (potato), sir (cheese) and spinac (you figure that one out).