One Day at a Time

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Emma and friends

By Emma H., YES Abroad 2019-2020, Bosnia and Herzegovina 

A couple of weeks ago marked one month since I landed in Sarajevo. And it has been a very busy month! From misunderstandings to getting sick to losing my bus pass (thankfully one of my amazing neighbors found it), it has definitely had its stresses. But even with the stress from this month, I have been able to make friends and feel as if I am beginning to be a part of the community.

School here has been an unusual experience mostly because since I have already graduated from high school and will not be receiving grades for the year. Being a perfectionist, however, I do not like to do things halfway, so in classes where I understand what is going on (all classes are taught in Bosnian), I try to participate. However, this often means the only class I can fully participate in is P.E., and that is definitely rough.

Here, you are actually graded for how in shape you are and how well you do sports. I have been graded on how many push-ups I could do within 30 seconds, how many sit-ups I could do, how far I could stretch my hands to touch my feet while sitting down, how far I could jump, and how many sprints I could do in 10 seconds.

I have also learned a lot about English grammar so far since it is another class that I can understand. A little strange that I am learning more about English grammar at a school in Bosnia than I did at school in America. And the final two classes where I can sometimes figure out what is going on is Turkish and Latin, which my classmates are also beginners in.

Being put in the language profile in school, I have five language classes (Bosnian, English, German, Latin, and Turkish). I also have math, sociology, democracy, religion, psychology, and of course, P.E. Right now in math we are doing trigonometry, so I actually took the test my class took last week, and with that little piece of paper I definitely disappointed every teacher who ever taught me trigonometry. However, all in all, I am really liking school and especially how the day to day schedule is set-up. We are on a block schedule with 45-minute classes  It ranges from having five to seven classes per day, with 15-breaks every three classes.

I have been asked if the way the people in high school act here is the same as how teenagers in North Carolina act. The answer is yes—obviously there are cultural differences on the surface, but I cannot stress enough how we are all just teenagers trying to survive.

Each day I grow some more and learn a little more. My language skills are also improving. Sometimes I will be standing with people who will be speaking Bosnian, and I am able to understand what one of them says, so I can quickly jump in and say something. Usually it is just a one liner, but I am getting there! It has definitely surprised one or two people. The reaction on their faces was priceless, and it even made my day once or twice. I am beyond happy to be in Sarajevo, I fall in love with this beautiful place more and more each day.

If you are interested in high school and you are interested in going abroad for a year, I totally recommend it. Applications are open until December 3 at 11:59pm EST.

History Museum 1

(Emma and YES Abroad students at the History Museum)