When I left Sarajevo I could sense that I was both anxious to come home but at the same time not completely happy to be leaving. There are so many things in Bosnia that were left for me to do, and by coming home I feel I am cutting my adventure off short. I cant quite put a finger on what these things are that I would have done had I had more time. They are, I think, the unknown adventures that I know would have happened had I had more time, and they would help to complete my experience there.
Being home has been a giant relief and a huge stress all at the same time. This past week I was bouncing around from house to house and city to city saying hello to all of my family and friends, giving gifts, and exchanging stories. I enjoyed that a lot but because of all of this activity I was unable to reflect on my summer experience fully. Now that most of my friends are off to school now or gone abroad I have some time finally to slow things down and just begin to think about where I was, where I am now, where I will be, and how these all affect one another.
Since I have been home I’ve noticed that even though everything feels normal they all stand out as being slightly different. Subtle things like the taste of food, the flavor of the water, the dryness of the air, size of the streets, the cars and the traffic, the sound of the music on the radio, the overwhelmingness of the supermarket, and easily being able to communicate with those around me all bring back memories of Bosnia. As I’m watching the news Libya suddenly seems less exotic and violent to me as the camera angle pans out to reveal a friendly minaret on the skyline. Walking in the foothills doesn’t seem so different now from hiking to the old fort in Sarajevo. RMNP suddenly looks a lot like Herzegovina. Seeing live music at Red Rocks brings back memories of TBF and Two Cellos. Cinema takes me back to the Film Festival.
As these memories come back I want to share them with the people around me, and all of my friends and family have been very patient with me and listen with interest whenever I bring them up. Right now though all I can do is prepare for the next adventure, which is just around the corner, and look forward to the day when I can return to Sarajevo and complete that one.
What is a Bosnia moment?
It is an incredible view of the countries natural beauty. It is when you realize that your beloved šladoled is actually sladoled. It is when you are renting a car, given the keys, and not told where or when to return it. It is when you are ordering your food from the restaurant’s menu and them not having the first two things that you order or getting back change in KM, Euro, Kuna, or Finnish money. It is being told to come back to work in a week and a half. It is meeting the principal for a school for blind children, who works tirelessly against all the odds with hardly enough funding, to get his pupils everything that he can, casually swearing in front of potential contributers, and mentioning in passing that we stood on the spot where a tank stood and was destroying his least favorite building. It is getting lunch for a couple of cents at a pekara. A glimpse of red on the pavement as you hurry on to get to work on time. The internet working for only 10 minutes at a time. The water running freely out of the many drinking fountains around the city. Being caught off guard when the answer to the inquiry “govorite li engleski” is ne. Walking out of the store with a two-liter of Sarajevsko in each hand. It is pissing off your hostess by not eating enough of her food.
The Bosnian moment is all of this and more. The list is endless and you encounter them every single day in Bosnia. Sometimes they amuse you and sometimes they make you homesick but they are things that we have become accustomed to here at Project Bosnia.
Since I am far too nice of a person so I will keep this post simple so as not to risk upstaging Kristi’s beautiful blogging skills 😉
I am going to Moscow in the Fall for an academic year abroad so Sarajevo was really only one relatively small part of one big whole as I finished off my Sophomore year at DU. But now that I am here and am surrounded by the sights, the sounds, and the smells (including the smell of pirates, which I don’t fully understand) of the city I wonder how there can be anything else quite like this anywhere in the world. Sarajevo is vibrant with life and energy and I find that I am hooked on it.
The people here are so incredibly friendly and patient with my strange American habits (such as getting to work on time, eating while working, not drinking coffee seven times a day, and not speaking at least four other languages). Even the lady at the supermarket tried so hard to have a conversation with me, despite her Engeski being only so-so. Just this morning one of our hosts at the hostel we are staying at caught me eating a little bit bread by myself after breakfast and she dragged me down to the dining area and insisted that she make me coffee. I don’t drink coffee so despite my protests she pored me a glass of orange juice (delicious, but I had already had one) and she stood there and watched me drink it before she left me alone. I had to run to get to work on time after that.
Many of my friends know that I am definitely one for scenery and the outdoors. Sarajevo has been fantastic for that since the city is so beautiful! The mountains remind me of my home in Colorado, but the lush countryside is like nothing I have ever seen in the Rockies. I have been given the warning many times that the hills are unsafe do to mining, but they are still incredible to look at.
This city has something for everyone, whether you like history, culture, people, anthropology, nature, religion, film, food, languages, or Ann’s great sense of humor. What was initially only a small part of a big whole is turning into the experience of a life time for me. We still have six and a half weeks though, and I am most definitely high in the honeymoon stage of study abroad right now, so things may change, but I most definitely will no longer think of Sarajevo as I used to.