So I know we are supposed to be writing about things we will miss about Bosnia, or something along those lines, and I originally planned on posting a bunch of pictures of all those things. However, in the last two weeks or so I’ve noticed a big change in my attitude (many of my roommates might have noticed this as well) and things seem to be getting to me a little more, patience is running seriously low, and I’ve been just easily irritated in general. This week, I think it’s safe to say it’s gotten worse. And this morning getting coffee I was talking to one of my roommates about all the things I have to worry about when I get home and it hit me…I’m already getting in crazy, stressed out, on the verge of panic-attack mode because of my crazy, stressful life waiting for me back in the states. Therefore, I decided that there are certain things/realizations from this culture and the trip in general that I need to make an effort to always keep in mind.
- Enjoy my breaks: rather than only heading to the coffee shop to work on a 40 page paper or research jobs and send out my resume to a billion different job postings…take a break..enjoy my (much larger) cappuccino…and remember that life can’t only be go,go,go. I can absolutely go have coffee for the pure and simple pleasure of coffee and people watching.
- Remember how lucky I really am: Here I am, freaking out about a job search ahead of me, my last quarter of grad school, my living situation, etc. even though, as much as our economy straight-up sucks right now…I still have a much better chance of finding a job, possibly one that even lines up with my interest in health communications, than most Bosnians my age do. We are extremely lucky to have the opportunities we have in the United States, and being here for two months has really put that into perspective. Now it’s my job to not forget just how lucky I really am when things get overwhelming.
- Things fall in place..not only in the Balkans, but everywhere: Our little mantra here was (think of Danielle saying this) “trust the process.” This should not only be a mantra for our time in Bosnia…it really should be kept in mind at all times! Thanks for your little tid-bit of wisdom D-Money 🙂
As far as what I will miss…just about everything! With the exception of the lack of unsweetened iced tea (that really has ice in it!), a twin sized bed with 6 other (very lovely and easy to live with!) ladies in the same room, and the lack of sweet, sweet air conditioning when it’s 90+ degrees outside.
This weekend a group of us did a hike to Novak’s Cave. We met the man who renovated the cave and he did the entire hike with us (which was quite strenuous!)….did I mention he’s 75! And wore dress pants and a dress shirt and barely broke a sweat. He also had quite possibly the worlds greatest smile. Once we got up to the cave he told us that when he was 4, he and his family hid out in the cave during WWII. The coolest thing about him though was his zest for life. I loved seeing that and can only hope I’m the same way when I’m 75!
I just thought I’d give a little advice for my blog post this time….when in Sarajevo, eat at Aščinica ASDŽ.
Ann brought this place to my attention (aka the cafeteria style place, the homestyle place, the place with the amazing nut-filled dates with a dollop of whipped cream). I now make it a priority to visit this place at least once a week….preferably more! My favorite thing to get there is the plate of all kinds of meat stuffed items…grape leaves, cabbage, little onions, red bell peppers (I know that sounds like a lot but it’s only one of each and they’re small). And the best part is the delicious bread that you can dip in whatever amazing sauce that is leftover from your meal. MMMmmmmmm! In fact, I’m eating here right now 🙂 With that said..I think I’ll get back to my meal!
- Aščinica ASDŽ
Mali čurčiluk 3
71000 Sarajevo, BiH
- +38761 131 655
Today at work we taught English to an intermediate class. For those reading this blog who don’t know where my internship is, it is the Center for Healthy Aging. We work with elderly Bosnians and I work specifically on several health related programs that they hope to have up and running soon. But today was intermediate English class day, which basically means having a conversation with students. It was hard for me to grasp this way of learning a language at first…no lesson plan…no structure…just conversation. I felt like we weren’t really helping them learn English to be honest. The way we learn in the United States is just so different. However, this is they way they do it and it is what works best for them so that’s all that matters, right? Well today I realized something else that comes out of these conversations. When the class was over, one of the women (who is definitely struggling a bit more than the rest with her English-speaking) came and plopped down on a chair next to me and began telling me a story. I’m going to be completely honest…I could not tell you what this story was about. There was an egg and some chicken movements, but other than that I was lost. But I could tell she just wanted someone to listen, so I did. I listened and laughed when she began to laugh, nodded my head, and tried to follow along as best I could. The end of the story must have been funny because she started laughing and looked so happy, so I laughed along with her. Then she grabbed my hand and shook it and said thank you and that she would see me next time. I realized after this that she probably feels the same way when I go off on a tangent that she can’t follow very well…but the interaction itself is what matters. Just having someone sitting there listening, paying attention, and just being there as a companion means so much to these people.
I know we talked about this a lot before we came here, but the value people in this city place on helping others continues to amaze me every time I see it happen. My own personal experience of needing to get some medicine here and having a woman I barely knew drive 30 minutes out of her way to take me to an Apoteka to translate and help me figure out what medicine I needed was pretty amazing. It may sound like such a little thing, and you might think “So what, people do nice things like that all the time in the States.” But really, when I think about my own life there are so many times that I’ve been “too busy” to make time for a small gesture that may have really impacted someone else.
Another example of this willingness to go out of the way for others, even strangers, was presented to me yesterday on the tram. I had gone out to spend a nice relaxing afternoon at Vrelo Bosne and on the way back I noticed a rather large man in a wheelchair. I didn’t see how he made it on to the tram, but he didn’t seem to be there with friends or anyone to help him. Then we got to his stop and suddenly 4 or 5 men, without a word said, came up to him when they noticed he was edging towards the door and rallied together to pick up his wheelchair and carry him down the narrow steps of the tram so he could make it off and be on his way. It was pretty amazing. And yes, maybe in the United States if it weren’t for having handicap friendly transportation you would see that. The point is, I notice gestures like this here…that are done without the blink of an eye…and it makes me realize how much more time we should all make to be there for those around us and to not be so rushed that we miss when someone could just use a hand.
So I took a picture of this Sarajevo Rose and felt really strange about posting it on Facebook along with all of my other pictures. I have the same feeling every time I’m at Ground Zero in New York and see people taking pictures. I guess part of me feels like with Facebook and blogs it translates as a tourist sort of flaunting these places where people died in horrible ways and feels a bit disrespectful to me. On the other hand another person here in our group pointed out that maybe it’s an opportunity to teach others about what happened. I still don’t know what to think though and just thought it would be helpful to have any other opinions about this whole idea of posting these types of pictures.