As I settle back into life stateside, reflections are surfacing. I have eaten tacos, spicy salsa by the spoonful, and indulged in Indian curry. I have spent time with friends, pets, and loved ones, and I enjoyed some late nights and early mornings. Bosnia has been on my mind a lot lately after all the reunions and eventful days. I always change in one way or another after I travel or live somewhere else for a while, which I believe is a healthy aspect of life and for learning and evolving as a person. Bosnia taught me many things, and I learned some valuable and unexpected truths about the true definition of life.
I miss family and friends on a regular basis, as my Mom, my sister, and my in-laws live out-of-state, and most of my friends live in various parts of the country or throughout the world. I always appreciate them more when I travel or live outside of the country, especially when contact is limited due to technological issues or a time difference. As our student group spent time with people who had lost loved ones or their entire families, and also shared meals with families, my friends and loved ones were always in my thoughts. I appreciated the fact that I had family and friends to whom I would return, and I could not wait to spend hours of time with them, either in person or engulfed in long phone conversations, just to hear about and to experience their lives. I did not even want to talk about my experiences; I was elated to just listen to their stories and anecdotes from the last few months. I appreciated my loved ones and for their existence, which completes my life.
I was fortunate enough to gain new friends during my time in Bosnia, and I learned new aspects about friendship. I was in a student program with the most thoughtful, delightful, diverse, and interesting people. I learned what it was like again to live in close proximity to several people at once, and I loved it. It brought me out of my shell of introversion, which enabled me to enjoy myself as an introvert and to also enjoy the company of others. I enjoyed traveling with them within Bosnia, during a three-day peace march, or during trips throughout the Balkans. I am thankful for the opportunity to experience Bosnia and the Balkans with an amazing group of people. They taught me that friendship is selfless and it brings out the best in humanity. It also completes my life.
-Photo courtesy of Ann Petrila
-Photo courtesy of Ann Petrila
QUALITY OF LIFE
People maintain a certain quality of life in Bosnia. They place emphasis on relationships and enjoying moments of each day. I observed this in all capacities, among my colleagues at my internship, as I watched people going about their daily lives, and within our personal experiences with Bosnian people. They stop and speak to one another, they don’t understand why a person would work through a lunch or eat at their desk at work, or why a person would not stop to share coffee several times each day and catch up with friends or colleagues. They chat with the person at the produce stand, they spend time conversing with the baker at their favorite neighborhood bakery, and they also gain new friends quickly by their nature as warm and charming people. Bosnians have experienced traumatic, life-altering, and atrocious events throughout their respective lives, and they lead and live beautiful lives today, laughing through it all in a dark way that only Bosnians are able to accomplish. Back home in Denver, I usually take a book to a nearby coffee shop and enjoy a coffee for two or five hours. I put off errands and call my grandmother and listen to stories about her week. I take my dog for a walk and enjoy the view of mountains in the distance. I laugh at my dog’s inability to run in a straight line. I notice the changing weather and look forward to the months ahead-my favorite time of year. I enjoy the process of cooking a meal and opening a bottle of wine or buying an IPA for my husband after a long day in the hospital, and I enjoy every moment when he does something wonderful for me. I plan for dayhikes on my days off from work.
Taking time to take it in.
I now believe in the importance of enjoying moments of each day, minute aspects of days that come and go forever. I have even changed my career objectives, and in turn, my life objectives. I want to live a life that I will enjoy, a life that enables and inspires me to always and endlessly give to those around me, to improve the world in my own way. This is imperative for enjoyment and completion of life.