I grew up with some amazing opportunities. We traveled all around the West Coast visiting family, traveling on a few international trips within North and Central America, and spending weekends sailing around the Washington coast with family friends. I lived a wonderful childhood and was taught to always try something at least once. However, it really wasn’t until my senior year of high school that I got the ‘wanderlust’ bug. Even then, Bosnia-Herzegovina didn’t make it on that list. As a person with Slovenian roots this region had always interested me, but it seemed too far, too unknown to ever consider going to. Many years and a crazy journey later, I am privileged to say I have spent almost seven weeks in this wonderful country.
Within my master’s program, we are required to go on an international internship between our first and second years. We are privileged to have the opportunity for such a program and for so many organizations to have accepted us into their workspace. I had previously considered how surreal and lucky it was for me to be so easily walking around in a foreign-to-me land. However, those thoughts surrounded the marvels of modern aerospace technology and my employment that had allowed for such an experience. However, these were short vacations, ones taken with friends to go see predominately tourist sites. The feelings that I have in Bosnia, especially surrounding privilege, are so much deeper than that. Not only was I here, but I also learned so much more than a mere two weeks vacation could have provided. I spoke with more people than I would have simply walking around town, perhaps speaking to a shop owner or a waiter. I firmly believe Bosnia has proved to be the most generous and hospital country that I have been too.
I had had the honor of traveling to many countries prior to this trip, and this summer alone I have been to five countries that were new to me. This past weekend, I went to Korčula, a small island off Croatia. It was beautiful, peaceful, and relatively quiet. As a normally active traveler, I was excited to have the experience of just sitting on the beach and enjoying a book. However, more than that, the Balkans have a rich, integrative history. Having had the chance to experience more of that has been a huge treat. There is diverse knowledge that can create a larger understanding, but having the opportunity to hear multiple perspectives have been something I didn’t even expect when I started this adventure. Including the impact that Bosnia would have as I experienced these other cultures.
This is my first time in Europe, but I know it will not be my last. I have loved every minute of this experience; even the lowest lows have brought me insight and perspective. Spending eight weeks in one place changes how one experiences a new environment. You get to build a routine in a new home, but it also can leave room for taking for granted the time you have there. I know there were times when I would come home from work and go straight to my room. I didn’t spend the afternoon in the city but instead on the Internet. But that was also the simple joys; I am comfortable and able to have time to myself. Needless to say, I plan on spending my next 1.5 weeks here in the city living it to the fullest. I plan to enjoy the simple present moments and the larger ones. I will hold onto these memories for the rest of my life and want to ensure I make as many as I can before departing.