As another day in my first week of life in Sarajevo draws to a close, I wonder what has been impactful thus far. Was it the rolling hills studded with red roofed houses? Was it the hustle and bustle that is Bascarsija, where East meets West? Or was it the first glimpses into a war that kept this city under siege twenty-two years ago? I struggle to find what has impressed on me most because these are but puzzle pieces that make up this colorful, complicated city that I am now beginning to discover for the first time.
Then it hits me: I have time. Time to soak in art and architecture without it becoming a blur. Time to get to know people and listen to their stories… Back home, I fill my days with the plans I feel like I should have, running from A to B, barely finishing a task without already worrying about the next one. How nice it has been to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee with someone, really hearing them, not thinking of how I am late for an appointment.
While I revel in the this newly found, fluid time, I know that none of the aspects of Sarajevo and Bosnia would exist if it were not for the diversity and depth of its people. As I sit as this café writing, I watch ethnicity, religion, and culture collide on the streets. Women wearing hijabs sell local honey next to the kiosk featuring kitschy souvenir magnets and down the street from the Persian rug market. The bell of the Catholic cathedral tolls while the call to Islamic prayer flows through the airwaves. I take a moment to hear all the sounds of Sarajevo, knowing that this is just the beginning of my time here.
As we begin to settle into our internships, I look forward to the relationships we are beginning to form and the stories we are beginning to hear. The Bosnian people I have met so far have shared their coffee, their breakfast, and their time with me. I cannot conceptualize conflict, and then I am told of life during bombing as I am handed a small cake for my coffee. This city bursts into clarity and confusion simultaneously once more.
I reflect on these things; glad I have been given the gift of time. I plan to use it the way the way I should, not as a traveler passing through as I run to my next perfectly planned destination, but as someone who stops to smell the roses for the first time in a very long time.