Saturday, March 22, 2014


    Ah, it's good to be back. Between church, work, school, and what ever else life throws at me, getting around to writing a blog post is sadly one of the last things on my mind.

    Just last week, I attended Ashoka's Youth Venture Social Entrepreneur Workshop which is a fancy title to say that I was in Washington DC for an exchange student alumni workshop for YES and YES Abroad that would give us the tools to address the social issues in our community. There I met, not only other Americans who spent a year in a foreign country, but other international students who spent their year here in the United States. It was so exciting to be surrounded by exchange students again, discussing our home countries and host countries. People from all over the world were in that little coffee colored conference room with common goals and purposes. Young adults from Asia, Africa, Europe, and America all gathered together to be the change makers in their community. 

YES and YES Abroad Alumni
     There, Emma (from SHAKE) was home in DC for Spring Break, so we met up and went out for ćevapi at a Bosnian restaurant not far from my hotel. Attached to the restaurant was a Bosnian grocery store. As I skimmed each *tiny* aisle, I found myself in another nostalgic rut of emotion, wishing I could buy each Munchmallow and Milka bar and blue Fanta bottle to take back with me. As I looked at the items, I heard the store keeper speaking with a man in Bosnian and I could have died, I was so excited. I understood. Not to mention I haven't heard Bosnian in months, so the fact that I knew what they were talking about when my Bosnian is pretty rusty, made my heart swell with joy. Then as we were checking out, the lady had heard us speaking English, so she checked out our items in English, asking if that was all and giving our total. As we left the store, I turned and said, "Hvala puno, dobro večer! (Thank you very much, good evening!)", the shopkeeper looked pleasantly surprised as she stuttered out a "Molim, priatno! (You're welcome, have a good day)" My smile widened and I nearly skipped, I was so happy for that moment of bosanski jezik (Bosnian language).
     As I spent time with my new-found friends from all sorts of countries, it just made me so happy to talk about Bosnia once again in an open environment where people were excited to hear my stories and live my experiences with me, because they had gone through similar events. Lately, the most I've talked about my exchange is sneaking it into essays for school.

     Then, just last month, my sister returned from India after six months teaching English and kid's church at an orphanage that my dad has been highly involved in for quite awhile. For the first couple of weeks that she was back, however, we couldn't find time to have sister time. She was back, but then I got snowed in at school. Then she was off to Hawaii to surprise our cousin. Then I was off to DC for the workshop. On Wednesday was one of the first times we had actually sat down and talked about life. As we sat on the stairs of the church stage after youth group, she looked down looking a bit melancholy.
    "Do you ever miss Bosnia?" She asked, quietly.
    I sighed, probably for added effect and being dramatic. "Everyday," I said. "Don't you miss India?"
    "Of course, but nobody cares anymore. Nobody asks about it."
    "I know." And I knew better than most. People hear your few stories that you have on back up that you want to tell everyone, but after that, they don't find it interesting. You went away, you came back, that's cool, move along. And there is nothing you want more than to find someone you can always go to and just discuss it with. People don't understand the slight changes in your behavior from being away and the only other people who get it, are the people who did the exact same thing as you.

Drinking from the Sebilj - it means you'll one day return to
Sarajevo and I seriously hope this is true.
    After that sister moment and missing our countries, I found myself wanting to speak Bosnian again and so I wrote my host mom and talked to my friends back in Sarajevo. Missing my host country isn't even something that comes and goes anymore, it's a state of my being. Sure, I've established myself back here in Oregon, become a college kid, made more friends, and gone on different adventures, but the thought of my Sarajevo life is always still there. I take any and every opportunity to slip Bosnia into conversation (I'm sorry, a billion times over if this annoys you) and am working ways to take my passion for my love of cultures and writing and mix it together (so far we're at blog posts, articles on Go Abroad, and essays for school. Next stop: everything.). My love for Bosnia won't die down anytime soon and there's nothing I want more than to be back at Panjina Kula with Esad and Nizama or down at a café in Baščaršija with SHAKE or sitting in my Teen Group at Evanđeoska Crkva.

    Anyway, there's my Bosnia love for the day.

    Until next time when I have more sentimental feelings to share,
- Katie



  1. Great blog. My son will be going to Bosnia this year. We are all as excited as him. We will never experience what it means to be in Bosnia for a year but blogs like yours bring the flavor of the place a little bit closer. Thank you.

    Mrs. A

    1. Yes, I met him yesterday and he seems like he'll fit in just wonderfully! I'm glad I can make this transition was for you, as I hope this blog does for other parents and future students.
      Thank you for letting your child go to Bosnia!