Throwback draft: Reflections on Sarajevo and Croatia

This is an unfinished draft of a blog post I wrote at the end of my study abroad semester in Dubrovnik, Croatia. It was originally written in May or June 2017. It captures some of the perspective and feeling as my semester abroad finished. As I explain in my 2017 year in review, this was a profound experience and exposed me to a part of the world unlike my own, yet it felt like a home by the end.

Unfortunately, as I write later in this blog post, the “window of inspiration” to finish this draft has closed. So I figured it better to publish it as-is than to let it waste.

Unmodified text: “Nothing will be the same”

The sun slowly slips into the horizon, darkening the sky as the street lamps and buildings illuminate. On the main road through the city, the taxi works its way through the evening weekday traffic in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. My luggage is stowed in the backseat and I’m seated next to the driver, an older gentleman in his late 40s or early 50s. Unlike other countless taxi rides, the car wasn’t silent inside. The driver was curious. Through gestures, signing, and broken English, we shared stories with each other, about the past, the present, and the future. He asked me about America and the election, and if Americans are really like what is shown in the news. I asked him about life in Sarajevo, and he told me about the problems with employment and people searching for work.

Behind his weathered face, there were eyes that had seen some of the worst tragedy in the region. He lived in the city during the Siege of Sarajevo in the 1990s and remembered Srebrenica in 1995. He lived through years where hate and spite penetrated the hearts of neighbors. Yet, through it all, the man was cheerful and still hopeful. Even from our conversation, he had a resounding hope about the people of Sarajevo. In thirty minutes, I understood a different kind of history in the region than I had during the four years earning my high school diploma.

This is one memory that persists from my experiences over the past five months. On January 17th, 2017, I moved across the oceans to Dubrovnik, Croatia. I studied in Dubrovnik from January until the middle of May.

During the semester and after, there were incomparable experiences that opened my eyes to a world that previously I only imagined. With my experiences with writing, there is a window that is open for a short time. The window is your inspiration. If you look out the window and see something incredible, you are filled with inspiration and you want to capture it. But when you step away, the window only remains open for a short time after. If you miss the opportunity, the window will close and the writing will never reflect it in the same way. This is my cumulative attempt at trying to capture the last five months of my life.

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