It’s been quite a while since I last posted. Classes have started back up at DU and Bosnia is somehow feeling like a distant memory. The first few weeks back felt the strangest. It was weird to be back and understand all the side conversations once again. It’s kind of interesting noticing the banality of every day conversation when you can understand it and aren’t trying to decipher it with your limited vocabulary. It made me appreciate being back home but it also reminded me of the place I had just left.
The first 24 hours back were the oddest. I had spent a few days getting back, having made stops in Vienna and then Frankfurt before coming back to Denver, and so in addition to the time I spent in Bosnia, I had been separated from the English-speaking world. By then I had gotten used to letting people’s conversations meld into the buzz of the background noise. It starkly contrasted with eating at Chipotle – because of course you need to get that burrito as soon as you’re back in the States – and effortlessly understanding all the side conversations again. It made me realize that the past two months had actually happened.
It’s something I am always surprised with when I go abroad for an extended amount of time. When I’m there, life quickly normalizes to the new location and ebb and flow of daily life, but it doesn’t quite feel real for a while. For me at least, there is always a nagging suspicion that at some point I’ll awaken and find myself back in the bed I am used to. But when I return and actually get back to that bed, it hits that it was real and the experiences I had have formed a new exciting chapter that has unfortunately, like all others inevitably do, come to a close.
But I suppose the final question to pose to yourself at the end of the experience is: how did you grow as a person? For me the greatest thing I learned was not so much as something new, though there were plenty of those, but a reinforcement of the idea that people all across the world have the same experiences in their lives. They experience joy and sorrow just as we do and they have the same day to day errands to run. In essence, they become a body of people you relate to and care about and cannot simply dismiss as “those people over there”.
In academia, I feel that a great deal of analysis attempts to do so from an unemotional, detached, objective view of the human condition. While it may be useful, I sometimes feel that in doing so we glance over the emotional, psychological and otherwise social complexity that underpins humanity. While we must be conscious of the political and economic ramifications of what we do, emotion and the ability to relate to one another is also important.
We cannot truly comprehend the costs of what we do if we are unable to grasp what they entail to all involved.