Today is the 14th of June, and the end of our 4th week abroad! It’s been a long week, and we’ve accomplished an awful lot.
As far as classes go, the highlight of the week was our midterm. After a few study groups, it was smooth sailing. It seems as though the class had just begun, but we had to finish up our work on Bosnia and Herzegovina so that we could make our way to Sarajevo for next week!
As I write this, we’ve not only made it to Sarajevo, but spent our first night here and hiked across some of the most breathtaking mountains I’ve seen (yes, even better than those of the Black Forest). Upon arrival, we took a quick walking tour of the city. On the tour we saw the very spot where Franz Ferdinand was assassinated, the ugliest building in town, and one of the most interesting mixes of architecture. Bosnia has spent time under the rule of both the Ottoman Empire and the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the cities’ architecture tells the story. In fact, there’s a literal line on the sidewalk that shows where the Ottoman Empire architecture ends and where the Austro-Hungarian Empire architecture begins! But by far the most striking detail we saw whilst walking about were the scars left on most every building from the most recent war. After learning about the war and atrocities Bosnia has suffered in the past twenty years, seeing the evidence in person was especially powerful. The time we’ve spend in Bosnia thus far has taught me that there really is no substitute for first hand experiences with history and culture.
Early the next morning, we set out on a hike through a nearby mountain range. We hiked for about two hours through immensely dense forests interspersed with cleared pastures for the occasional bovine. As we hiked, the local Bosnian mountain guide pointed out wild rosemary, thyme, chamomile, and countless other wildflowers. If we didn’t have our noses stuffed in the best smelling flowers you can find, we were wide-eyed with magnificent vistas of rolling green mountains cut with tall, severe cliff faces of granite. To top it all off, we were blessed with the best hiking weather: sunny, clear skies with low humidity and the loveliest of breezes. Words cannot describe the natural beauty found in this part of the world, and that honestly surprised me. Much to my own chagrin, I should admit that I didn’t have high hopes for what we would find in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Up until now, I had never given thought to what the Balkans were, or what they had to offer. For me, what for the longest time was only a small beige spot on a piece of paper has become one of the most inspiring, beautiful, and significant places on the map.
Thankfully, there is much more for us to get into while we’re still here in Bosnia. Coming up are some interesting discussions with both local and international speakers about the current state of Bosnian politics, as well as a tour of Srebrenica, the location of the Bosnian genocide of the 1990’s. As always, the best is yet to come!
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<p>I'm a sophomore at NC State University studying Materials Science and Engineering. I've lived in North Carolina all my life, but my family and I have traveled all over the U.S. I enjoy spending time with friends, meeting new people, listening and making music, and working with kids through the outreach program the College of Engineering at NC State operates. I love to jump into new things, and can't wait to see what is in store for me in Germany this Summer!</p>