Visiting Bosnia and Herzegovina has been something I’ve dreamed of since I was young and heard the stories of the house my mother grew up in with my grandma, grandpa, and uncle. I imagined that the first time I’d go would be with my mother and sister, however, due to a recent loss in the family, I had to make my trip on my own. It was bittersweet visiting because it meant looking at the country where I could have been born through the lens of memories of pre-war and not having everyone there that I wanted to be because they died during the Bosnian genocide.
Being in the country was in and of itself an upside because it meant immersing myself in the lifestyle my mother was raised in and speaking Bosnian wherever I went in comparison to the English I speak in the Netherlands. The first day was spent attending the sedmica of one of my cousins that recently passed away. I’d never been to such arrangements, not even for my grandparents, so it was difficult for me emotionally but it was very meaningful that I attended. Afterward, my cousin brought me over to my great aunt, Tetka Tifa, who I looked forward to meeting very much as she is my grandpa’s sister, and since my grandpa wasn’t someone who I got to see again, I was happy to have her there because, in a way, it was almost like I was seeing him. She told me I looked just like my mom and that I resembled my grandpa as well which gave me a sense of peace.
After an afternoon in Doboj of eating cevapi and having proper Bosanska kahva, my cousin and I went to the Fortress, or the Gradina. It is essentially an overlook to the entire city of Doboj with the prettiest view that is very famous for being built in the thirteenth century. Taking pictures there was also a lovely experience as I knew I was walking on the same pathway to the top of the fortress that my mother did when she was in high school. I loved being able to show her her home again and through my perspective. Being with family was definitely the highlight of my trip. Having their support in my study abroad journey meant everything to me, and being able to visit since I was nearby was an opportunity I couldn’t miss.