Tuesday, February 4, 2014


    Ah, exchange blog. I've missed you so much this past month. Shall we be nostalgic together?
    It's strange how such a normal task, even in your home and host country can bring you nostalgia and flashbacks when you start up again.
    This, for me, was taking the bus.

    Before Bosnia, the only busses I ever took were my yellow school bus for a max of ten minutes everyday and that one time I took a smelly, over-crowded bus in Las Vegas. Needless to say, my fondest memories of American life were not on those rides.

    When I arrived in Bosnia, I soon realized public transportation was going to be the main mode I would navigate the city. I wasn't too thrilled. My idea of busses were smelly and noisy and altogether unpleasant. People were grumpy and children were restless and it was the last thing I wanted to join in on. The third or fourth day of me being in Sarajevo, my host sister picked me up after language class and told me we would be taking the bus home. I couldn't imagine why, but that thought made my stomach churn. She told me to pull out 1.60 KM and that when the bus pulled up, I would squeeze my way on to bus, hand my money to the driver, and try to get a seat.
    The seat thing didn't happen.
    The bus quickly filled up and we ended up pressed against the windows on a hot day for the next fifteen minutes, falling into the next person every time we took a sharp turn (aka every thirty seconds).

     In those short ten months, the bus became a normal part of life. Every time I needed to get home, I would wait for bus 72 or 74, board the bus, flash my student pass (even if my bus driver soon started recognizing me and smiled every time I boarded), took a seat (or stood and held on to the bar for dear life) and rode up the mountain to Panjina Kula. Most days, I would sit silently and listen to my iPod or contemplate the next blog post I would write, but every now and then I would talk to the person near me.
     One day it was an elderly lady who asked me if the bus went to Sredrenik, but I didn't understand her at first and I felt disappointed I couldn't help her. But instead of writing me off, she slowed down her speaking and used easier language so I could understand her.
    Another time I sat by an old man who started talking to me about how he visited America when he was a college student.
    I rode up with my friends and showed them the beautiful view from my vantage point.
    By the time my exchange was over, I came to truly enjoy those bus rides. They were simple and uncomplicated unless someone heard me speak English and then I would hear them talking about me being an "amerikanka". That was rare enough though, so, I could deal with the immature teenagers that would confront me and make fun of me.

    Since I returned home, I hadn't ridden the bus since my last full day in Bosnia. No matter where I've gone in America or Canada, there was a car to take me there. I've started taking it for granted and have limited my going places because I don't have any way of getting around on certain days.
    Just last week I was hired for a job that is a straight 77 blocks down the road from my school which would take an hour and a half to walk and nothing important is down there for it to be "on the way" so someone could drive me. Friday was training day and I had to fall back on something I hadn't done in seven months. Public transportation. I looked up the bus schedule and made my way to the stop.
     Well that turned out to be an adventure.
     Firstly, I didn't know where to pay for my ticket and the bus driver got mad at me for being confused. Then I forgot my phone back at campus. Then I arrived twenty minutes early plus the general manager was home sick with the flu so my training was cancelled. Then I realized I didn't know the returning bus schedule so I had to call my mother to get the numbers for one of my friends from church who was currently in Portland and she didn't have them, so I had to call my dad to get them. By the time this whole ordeal was over, I was already exhausted and that wasn't even the majority of my day.

    However, taking the bus reminded me of all those rides in Bosnia, turning around narrow corners and talking to strangers (sorry parents and teachers who told me not to do that). The entire fifteen minute ride to my workplace, I was constantly thinking back to Bosnia and how different it was. The busses weren't hand-me-downs, there wasn't nearly as much graffiti, and absolutely no old people to hold your bags for you. There was so much room between each person, nobody daring sitting next to each other if they could avoid it and I found the whole situation funny.
    Bus rides were a normal, mundane task and here I was thinking back to how different it was and how I actually missed my old bus rides with the beautiful scenery and even the general people (my bus was full of old people)! I'm sure as these next few weeks go by and I take the bus more consistently, I won't think about my bus rides in Bosnia and how it was always an adventure, but instead just think of it as part of the job. But as for now, bus rides are a constant reminder and that's something I'm perfectly okay with.

    Anyway, I have to go do some reading for classes tomorrow, not to mention my sister returns from India tomorrow night! Ah, I am so excited!

    Until more bus rides and coffee,
First on the bus with Hels in BiH. It was a nice feeling.

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