I walk into a restroom without knowing what to expect. Depending completely on the location of the particular restroom, or who cleans it, or on the phase of the moon, maybe… this could be a common experience or one of great discomfort. My goal with this post is hopefully not to gross you out, but to delve a bit deeper into the meaning of a commonplace occurrence.


In the states, going to the bathroom means nothing. It takes a few minutes, and in any public place, there aren’t any greater concerns. If for some reason something is out of order, one could bring it up with an employee of the establishment, and it would likely be fixed on the spot. The scenario in Eastern Europe is very different, even in the heart of a major city like Sarajevo. There’s a chance that you’d encounter a restroom that is kept up just like a typical US or Western restroom, but there’s also a chance that any number of things would be missing. I go through a checklist in my head. First, I grab the pack of Kleenex that I keep with me at all times. If there’s toilet paper in the bathroom, that’s a total bonus. Then, there may or may not be a working sink, soap, a hand dryer or paper towels, and a trash bin. It is a very rare occasion when all of these things are present in the same restroom, whether in a hostel or at the organization where I’m interning.

This all seems a bit menial to talk about, but I’m discovering that it’s necessary for me to realize that it’s not necessary for me to have all of these things. I’ve come to this realization before, whether it was while I was studying in Hungary, or just while I was camping. I think that this is maybe where I’d insert a line about “people who never have as much as I have on a daily basis,” but today, I don’t need to feel guilty. I can gather meaning from simply noticing differences in ways of living. We can mark these things on a value spectrum from “better” to “worse” but I find that dichotomies are often unnecessary because there are so many other factors to be considered. I thought there might be some kind of conclusion at the end of this blog, but I’m realizing as I write, that sometimes it’s better to leave things up in the air. To raise questions without necessarily……


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