Visitors from afar

sur·re·al (adj.); having the disorienting, hallucinatory quality of a dream; unreal; fantastic.

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My life in Minnesota exists in a different world than my life in Mostar… Or at least, this is how my brain processes it. My stateside friends and family live in this vague place called “back home,” and few people here at UWC can properly imagine what that means. There are a few exceptions. My country-mates can form a relatively accurate picture in their minds, but what’s more significant (particularly while at UWC) is that they understand the cultural context that I am coming from. Plus there’s Rhea and Anita, some of my closest friends here who managed to visit me for a couple days last summer. They can actually reference particular rooms in my house, or some of my friends that they met. But overall, “back home” doesn’t mean much for people here. It contains the youthful memories of my childhood, the hilarious moments of middle school, the ups and downs of high school. It is the majority of my life thus far, and yet, it’s all compressed into a couple stories and some pictures, tinted with some stereotypical imagery and personal bias about “‘Ahmurrica” – positive or negative.

The opposite is also true – during our regular Google Hangouts that span two continents and three timezones, my family will ask me how things are going “there,” and again, a simple word suddenly is tasked with encompassing my entire current existence. “There” is here for me; it’s literally where I am, but it’s also everything I experience, every day. All the things I see, the people I talk with, the subjects I study for, the cafes I visit… Yet for the people that know my whole (albeit short) history and once understood the context of my stories, these little details and intricacies are melted into one ambiguous place that exists in their imagination, again shaped only by the stories and pictures I share.

So then my dad and my sister visited me, and these two worlds collide. Suddenly, Jump-Jump isn’t just a cafe that my friends and I study at, but it’s also the place where my family and I enjoyed some incredible chocolate cake during a free block. And my dad isn’t just the person sending me funny emails that I laugh about with my friends, but he is the person that they met during lunch that day. And it’s all very surreal.

Although that isn’t to say that it wasn’t nice! I really enjoyed having them here. Being the Batiz family, the one weekend we had together was consumed with traveling – two long days of road trips to Kotor, Montenegro (first gallery below) and Dubrovnik, Croatia (second gallery below). The second gallery also has pictures from a few of the other things we did – including eating delicious local food in Mostar’s Old Town and hiking to the cross.

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Ja uistinu volim svoju obitelj.

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