My teammates and I are coming to the slow and uncomfortable realization that our time here in Bosnia is almost over. We’ve been here for almost three weeks, and we’re more than half done with our four weeks of teaching. I’ve really fallen in love with all the people I’ve met and sights I’ve seen in this wonderful city.
There are some things about living here that I can never really get used to:
Before I came to Sarajevo, the only thing I knew about any type of flowers here were an art project called the “Sarajevo Roses.” The group that created the “Sarajevo Roses” filled in shelling marks on the streets with red clay to mark attacks that killed people during the war. I’ve walked over many in my time here, but no one’s ever stopped to say anything.
However, we have stopped to smell the real Sarajevo roses–the big, beautiful flowers you can see in almost every garden and yard. They brighten up all my climbs up the staircases, and I love catching a whiff of rose on my walk to work. Even better, “rose juice”–a drink made of rose water and sugar–is immensely popular here, and my host mom gives me homemade rose juice each morning. The juxtaposition between the drabness of the “Sarajevo roses” in the street and the vitality of the real Sarajevo roses in the gardens demonstrate to me how this city and country are determined to get past the war of the 1990s.
One thing I can really never get used to is always seeing a beautiful view whenever I look out the window. In the places I have lived in America–New Jersey and Virginia–everything is so flat; I can only see woods and other houses from my windows. Wherever I go in Sarajevo, however, I’m surprised with a breathtaking view of a mountain whenever I look outside. I can’t seem to get used to this–I stopped in the middle of washing my hands in a bathroom at the mall to stare out the window last week. I don’t understand how people in Europe ever get used to the beauty of their everyday views.
It might just be because almost all the people I’ve met here work or want to with children, but I really adore every single person I’ve met in this country. I am going to miss all of my Bosnian friends and especially my students (even the ones who misbehave) so much when I live here!
The last thing I can never get used to is how nice it is to live with a host family. I am a pretty awkward person, and I felt pretty awkward about inserting myself into a family with little kids, especially one where no one speaks fluent English. Every time I spend a night at home with my host family instead of going out, I first panic a little bit about what I’m going to talk about or how we’re going to interact. However, by the end of the night, I’ve always been immensely glad that I’ve spent time with them instead of going out with my friends. It’s been hard for me spending time away from my coteachers and the rest of my team–everybody else besides me is not returning to W&M, and three of them are going overseas, so we probably won’t ever be all together in the same place ever again–but every night I spend with my host family has just been an immensely enjoyable experience. Living with a host family is critical to cultural immersion, and even though it’s sometimes uncomfortable to not be able to speak to anyone in my host family in English, I’ve learned so much from it. I know that I will be a better teacher to children who speak other languages because of this experience.