Why did I pick Bosnia? I have always been fascinated by the war that occurred here in the 1990s. Growing up in Scotland, I was always aware of what happened, but did not know too much about it until I got older. When I started at The University of Denver in July of 2015, our orientation to the Graduate School of Social Work had an introduction to all the international study opportunities that were available. As soon as I saw the video of Bosnia, I knew that I had to go on this trip.
This first week in Sarajevo has been nothing short of exciting. Coming to a new place with a completely new culture than I am used to always provides an experience. I have been fortunate enough to travel in various parts of Europe during my 23 years of life, but never have I experienced somewhere like this. This city has so much history and so much life to it, some being good and some bad.
While preparing for this trip, we were required to read materials and watch documentaries about the tragic history during the war that developed in the early 1990s. After my first week here, I have had many thoughts about what it would have been like during those years and how life would have progressed. It is sometimes very difficult to picture what happened here when walking down these streets surrounded by such a vibrant and exciting atmosphere. The cafes that line the streets are full of people laughing, drinking and talking, there are bars that don’t close until 4am in the morning, with loud music being heard from all over the city. How can it be that only a mere 20 years ago, people were fighting for their lives not knowing whether they would be shot by a sniper or not that day.
This past Friday, we went on a hike to the town of Lukomir, which is located at the highest altitude and the most remote village in the entire country. It was a 10km (6 mile hike) through a variety of different landscapes. As I am not the most in shape person in the world, I found it a little challenging, but the view at the top was definitely worth the sweat. I found myself thinking about how it would feel to know what was going on in Sarajevo and around Bosnia during the time of the war, and being in a place like Lukomir, where if the forces tried to attack, there was no where to go. It definitely makes you think.
I am excited for the next 7 weeks here in Bosnia and looking forward to the new adventure. Stay tuned for more updates!