During these past couple of weeks, things have been coming full circle for me. I’ve been really thinking about what the implications of ‘othering’ and homogeneity really are, especially when they can be applied within my own context – at Northwestern. It has been wild to see how no matter how ‘foreign’ the place may seem, from Belgrade to Sarajevo to even Berlin, similar motifs within society can be found that are similar to what I have experienced, even though I did not realize it at first.
This experience of studying abroad has been truly life-changing, as cliche as it may sound. I have made amazing new friends, gone on incredible adventures, and I have truly learned so much about the world. What surprised me most, however, was how much I learned about myself. This experience has pushed me to think critically about living in my context – as a student at Northwestern – and also how I perceive myself in this context.
After interacting with individuals who struggled with their identity in a place where a name could get you killed twenty years ago, I was intrigued to consider my own experiences with my identity as someone who comes from a multiracial and multi-religious background. I empathize with individuals who had to cope with their own identity crises – yet I understood that although I have had some challenges and confrontation about my background, I have grown up incredibly privileged by living in a place that is considered a diverse melting pot of various backgrounds. I also reflected on my privilege in terms of attending a university that allowed me to go on such an important study abroad program. I am truly grateful for this experience, and I hope to return back to this region soon.