From Bosnia with love #5 – What I learned about Bosnia-Herzegovina

by Kathi Daniela

Six months that felt like a whole life. Six months with many Ups and Downs. With tears of joy and frustration. There were moments where I felt I had lost myself, my whole life just revolving around one thing: Waiting to move further. I tried to embrace and enjoy my time in Sarajevo as much as I could but I would be lying if I said it was easy. At times it was freaking hard – like this year has been for all of us.

I will leave Sarajevo with a feeling that I can’t really describe. I never felt like I belong here. But it’s now also a place that will always be a part of me, that will call me to come back. Whenever I will visit Europe in the future, I will probably feel Sarajevo’s pull, feeling myself gravitate towards that city to walk it’s winding steep streets again, drink coffee in Baščaršija and meet people I grew to love. Baščaršija zu trinken und um die Menschen zu treffen, die ich lieb gewonnen habe. 

I know this place too well for to only be a city that I visited and I don’t know it well enough to call it home. It is my interim city for an interim year – the place where the waiting and the insecurity and all the feels got first bottled up and then released. And maybe that’s not a bad thing – after all, it means that I will always come back. And see what will happen with the two of us, Sarajevo and me.

coffee is life

I said it many times and I am saying it again: I love that coffee is this society's backbone. Coffee is drunken here any time of the day – and for hours.

everybody has a weekend house

It seems to me that even though Sarajevo is just surrounded by mountains and it takes you 10 minutes by car to get to nature, everybody still has a Vikendica.

culture shock is a real thing

Bosnians are very loud, Germans don't raise their voices in public.
Bosnians just pop by to visit their family unannounced, Germans plan in advance.
When Germans don't want anything to eat or drink, you shouldn't push them, in Bosnia it's impolite to not accept food and drink at someone's home.
Yes, it's difficult sometimes and cultural differences are definitely a thing. But it's nice to explore them, as long as you and the people you meet have some patience wit each other.

not every person in bosnia considers themselves bosnian

I don't want to go into the details as I sometimes barely understand them myself. But there are three ethnicities and religions in this country and they are closely intertwined. Being Serbian means being Orthodox, being Croatian means being Catholic, being Bosniak means being Muslim and then there are 1.000 shades and mixes in between.

It's safe to say that not everybody would call themselves Bosnian, depending on their ethnicity and religion, when you ask them.

POLITICS HERE ARE crazy COMPLICATED

Did I ever tell you that Bosnia-Herzegovina has three presidents? And that they rotate every few months? No? Well, now you probably understand without me saying anything further that nothing ever gets done in this country.

never trust a bottle without a label

It probably contains home-brewed Rakija. And you don't wanna come back home from a workout, take out a bottle and jug it – before realizing it's not ice-cold waiter. #thankmelater

the nature is breathtaking

I have never seen a country so small but diverse in my life: From the seaside to mountains that are over 1.000 meter high and beautiful wild rivers roaming canyons and woods there is everything in Bosnia and Herzegovina. They even have a wine region. I can't get over the beauty of this country and I really think, you should visit soon! vom Meer in die Olympischen Berge. Wilde Flüsse, unberührte Wälder und Weinberge – Bosnien-Herzegowina hat alles zu bieten, was man sich nur vorstellen kann!

not all muslim countries are conservative

This is something I knew already from my many visits before, but it still fascinates me: Strongly religious girls in hijabs roaming the streets with their friends in mini skirts. People ordering coffee, tea or a coke instead of a beer. Or people that order a beer after they went to the Friday prayer. Everything is possible here in Bosnia – religion is part of the life but it doesn't dictate it.

communication will be frustrating

English is not so widely spoken here and while most people will be nice, there will be some that just turnaround, leave you standing there because you don't speak their langauge. Some will ignore you and leave you on the verge of tears. It's freaking difficult to learn a new language and I am giving kudos to everbody that does it! 

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