Barefoot in Bosnia

Lorraine Engleman
June 14, 2016
In the interest of honesty, let me just say right off the bat that I had no interest in Bosnia whatsoever before I got into the program. I thought there were thousands of other places I’d rather see; I thought the only benefit of going would be not having homework; I thought it would be boring. I’ve been here for four days now, and I’ve been proven wrong every single day. The eleven of us arrived in Bosnia-Herzegovina on the eleventh, and we’ll be here until our return to Freiburg on the eighteenth. So far, Bosnia has been like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. We started with a hike on the Bjelasnica Mountain, which was beyond amazing. If you thought the Black Forest hike in Freiburg was impressive, just wait; this hike will blow you away. Our city walk was postponed until today due to rain, but it was worth the wait to hear our tour guide, Neno, tell us about the city. He pointed out Sarajevo roses (craters made by the bombings; they’re painted in red where people were killed), the corner where Franz and Sofia Ferdinand were assassinated, buildings pockmarked by shrapnel, and the memorial for killed children. Those red splotches seem to come out of nowhere... it’s a strange and morbid feeling knowing that at least one person lost their life in that exact spot. The natives don’t pay the shadows of destruction any mind, though—even though everyone who is older than me lived through the siege, they’ve stayed strong and moved on with their lives. Sarajevo is an interesting mix of new and old. While the city hosts a variety of cars, trams, and shiny buildings, there are still also stray dogs and children begging in the street. Unemployment is over 40%, so it seems like the night life never stops, even on weeknights. The crew and I like to spend our post-meeting evenings wandering the streets, picking through souvenir booths and tasting snippets of the local cuisine. My philosophy is that if I don’t know what something is, I need to try it, so my meals so far have consisted of crepes, falafel, bruskete, yogurt drinks, and a variety of other things I can’t spell or pronounce. The exchange rate is pretty nice: $1 is worth 1.73 km (konvertible marks), so we can get a lot of stuff fairly cheap. I was a little stressed about the impending language barrier since unfortunately none of us are fluent in Bosnian, Croatian, or Serbian, but the staff has been fluent in English at every establishment we’ve been to, so that’s a good sign. I also can’t wait until the weather improves; the streets are mostly cobblestone and marble, so I have to resort to going barefoot when it rains because my flip flops have zero traction on wet tile. Last night I found myself walking the streets with a fresh caramel waffle in hand, heading into town with my friends to watch the Euros on the big screen. I can’t help but wonder how I got so lucky—how did I go from sitting on my porch swing in Indiana three weeks ago to exploring the city of Sarajevo on a Monday night? It just doesn’t seem real. Our upcoming itinerary includes a guided tour of the Srebrenica-Potočari Memorial Center, a trip to the University of Sarajevo, a few more meetings, and two days in Mostar before we go back home. (Home. It’s interesting how that’s my knee-jerk classification for Freiburg. I never thought I could get homesick for anywhere but Indiana.) They certainly like to keep us busy… we never get bored, that’s for sure. Here’s to four more days in Bosnia! Lorraine

Lorraine Engleman

<p>Hey! My name&#39;s Lorraine, and I&#39;m a 20-year-old junior at Indiana University Southeast. I&#39;m an Elementary Education major and substitute teacher at North Harrison Community Schools. Check out my blog as I spend eight kid-free weeks in Freiburg, Germany!</p>

2016 Summer 1, 2016 Summer 2
Home University:
Indiana University
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