It's time for this week's So Your Character is ... Post! This is a weekly segment where I interview lovely volunteers from around the world to give you a firsthand account of being a citizen of their respective country or having a disability. I'm hoping to encourage international diversity, break stereotypes, and give writers a crash course on how to write a character from these different places on our planet. If you haven't checked out last time's So Your Character is from Bahrain ... be sure to hop on over there and give it a read!
Disclaimer: The content below may be culturally shocking to some. Each of these posts is as uncensored as possible to preserve the authenticity of the cultures of each of the interviewees.
(None of the Images are Mine)
My name is Azra and I'm from Bosnia and Herzegovina. I live in Sarajevo while studying, but I’m originally from small city close to Sarajevo called Kakanj. I have a blog SimpleSerenity, where I usually share my passion for beauty related topics. I’m a chemical engineering student though, but I work as a beauty journalist. I was born on 25. December 1993. I’m 24 years old, not politically active but I’ll try to explain the situation in my country the best way I can.
What do you feel is unique to your country? Landmarks? Celebrations?
I think that people in Bosnia are a lot different from the rest of the world. Most of the people are so friendly and they would help you no matter if they know or don't know you. Also, we are great hosts, when we have friends around we do everything to make them feel special and well received. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, you’ll find some unique animal species that only live in Bosnian territory. If I would talk about landmarks in Bosnia, it would probably take a whole day, because there is so much.
If you are visiting you need to see Mostar, capital city – Sarajevo which is full of history and life. We also have a touristic place called Neum where you can swim in the sea that is really clean and have a nice summer holiday. Celebration vise we have some national holidays of course, but I feel like religious holidays are more important. Bosnia is a multi-religious country with many religions. Every religion has specifics holidays with specific traditions and practice.
Tell me about your country's environment. What are some of your favorite places?
If you are visiting Bosnia you have to come to Sarajevo. Sarajevo has a special atmosphere and it is a really popular place for tourists all over the world. One of my favorite places in Sarajevo is old bazaar called “Baščaršija”, it’s absolutely beautiful. If you want to see a better view of the city you have to visit “Vidikovac”. Obviously, Mostar is also a really popular city. I’m sure you saw photos of “Old bridge”, it’s definitely worth to see in person. Mostar as a city is really beautiful, with so much history and culture. If you love nature than “Kravice” waterfalls are something you have to see. If you are a fan of history and historical details “Kraljeva Sutjeska” and “Bobovac” near Kakanj are a must see.
Also in Kakanj there are some tombstones from Middle Age. A very popular place for zoologists is “Hutovo Blato” nature park that has many rare animal species. Neum is a small town in Herzegovina that is really popular as a holiday destination. We might have a pyramid in “Visoko”. There have been studies that say that there is definitely a pyramid in Bosnia, it’s still researching though. Bosnia has the last remaining jungle in Europe called “Perućica”. There is so much more, but I decided to keep it simple!
Tell me about your country's food. What are some of your favorite dishes?
My country is popular for having a good food. Our food is definitely not healthy, but if you try it you won’t care because it is so good. We have many pie recipes, probably the most popular is “burek” which is a pie with meat. If you were ever in Sarajevo you tried “ćevapi” which is our most popular dish. There are some traditionally cooked meals like: “sogan dolma”, “šiš ćevap”, “sarma” etc. We also have really popular deserts like “baklava”, “hurmašice”, “tulumbe”, “tufahije” etc. If you come to Bosnia for a longer period you’ll get fat there is no doubt about it.
Tell me about any different speech patterns in your country. Slang? Idioms? Words for things such as “biscuits” instead of “cookies”?
This won’t be helpful to people who don’t understand Bosnian, but there are many idioms in our language. Most people say that Bosnian is almost impossible to learn because there are so many words and Bosnian grammar is whole another level. I’ll mention few slangs, one of the most used one is “Đ’es ba?” which means “What’s up?” or you can also say “’Šta ima?”. “Živjeli” is “Cheers”. If you are referring to a friend you are using “Brate” or “Jarane”. If you are talking to a woman you are constantly using the word “bona” to refer to her, or for a guy it’s “bolan”. When you want to ask someone to visit you, you simply say “Hoš doći?”. When someone is leaving your house you say “Dođite nam”, the person would reply “Doći ćemo”!
Describe briefly a regular day in your country.
A regular day in Bosnia starts around 5 am for most people because work usually starts at 7. If you are living in a village you are most likely to wake up even earlier. From 7 till 9 there would be really busy in the city, but after that, it will slow down till 1 pm when it’s usually a lunch break. Bosnians love to drink coffee at caffe’s and talk about life and their struggles. Did you know that Bosnia and Herzegovina has the tenth highest coffee consumption per capita in the world? People in Bosnia like to complain a lot even though they don’t mean it most of time. Most Bosnians love to spend time outside, doing some gardening, having a walk or just simply strolling around. Bosnians are known for having a good party and they love going out at night to clubs or places with live music which in Bosnia we call “KAFANE”.
How does your country compare to others, especially the States since my audience is primarily American? Environmentally? Politically? Culturally?
Well I think that Bosnia as a country is really small compared to many other in Europe and World. Being a small country it still has a lot to offer especially tourism vise. I think that Bosnian people are really unique and different. I feel like Americans are collected, professional and a little bit reserved, while Bosnians look at everyone in a friendly way, we are usually really impulsive and loud. The political situation in Bosnia is definitely unique, I don’t think there is any country with the same organization. It’s really hard to explain in the way that people would understand, let’s just say it like this we have three presidents that can’t agree over anything which means that country can’t improve and it’s basically in a really difficult situation.
Looking at economic situation our country is in a really bad position where there are many unemployed people while costs of living are quite high which means that a lot of people are trying to survive. Also, a lot of people are moving to other European countries in search of better job and life.
28. June 1914. – Assassination in Sarajevo (Gavrilo Princip killed Franz Ferdinand Archduke of Austria) – the event that triggered 1st World War (not a pretty event obviously, but it’s something that most people know Bosnia for)
8 – 19 February 1984. – XIV Winter Olympic Games that took place in Sarajevo (My parents say that this was the most beautiful time in Bosnia, everyone was happy and proud to host Winter Olypics)
1 October 1991 – 14. December 1995 – Bosnian War (It’s commonly said that it started 6 April 1992, but the time of the war lasted much longer, obviously the worst part of Bosnian history, event that changed everything in Bosnia, complete situation and human relationships)
What are some stereotypes about your country that irk you? What media portrays your country badly be it a movie, a book, or a TV show? What media portrays your country well be it a movie, a book, or a TV show?
I have to admit most movies that are made showcasing Bosnia are usually movies about war, because Bosnia is unfortunately known for it, so there is not many negative or positive shows, books or movies that showcase Bosnia, they are all just sad because war is not nice topic no matter how you put it. So I’m going to list few the most popular newer movies that showcase Bosnia and you can decide are they positive or negative.
No Man’s Land (2001) – movie by Danis Tanović – won an Oscar (2002) – Best Foreign Language Film
Fuse (Gori Vatra) – 2003
Esma’s secret (Grbavica) – 2006
Days and Hours (Kod Amidže Idriza) – 2004
In The Land of Blood and Honey (U zemlji krvi i meda) – 2011 – directed by Angelina Jolie
One of the most popular TV shows in Bosnia is “Lud, zbunjen, normalan” which showcase Bosnian reality in a humoristic way making fun of reality and just everyday life.
Who are your top three favorite fictional characters native to your country in books, movies, or shows?
Again I can’t really answer this because I don’t enjoy most movies and books that showcase Bosnia because they are all connected to a war and that’s not the topic I enjoy. Of course, I watched all movies that showcase Bosnia, but I don’t have favorite characters.
I tried to make Bosnia seem as interesting as possible. It was really hard for me to answer some of these questions because of Bosnian history that is really sad and connected to many sad events. I would urge you if you haven’t visited Bosnia to do so, because you’ll enjoy it. It’s country with awesome people, great food, incredible architecture and most importantly stunning nature. Did you know the name “Bosnia” comes from an Indo-European word Bosana, which means water. It is definitely a right destination for your next trip!
Thank you, Azra, for this very informative post! Come back next week for a post all about Albania!
Are you interested in participating in this project? Check out the tips archive to see which countries have been filled and if you're from a different country, shoot me an email at howellvictoriagrace(a)gmail(dot)com. I'm especially looking for Cuba, Venezuela, Belarus, Zimbabwe, and Iraq.
Do you have any characters from Bosnia & Herzegovina? Did this inspire you to write a Bosnian character or set a book in Bosnia & Herzegovina? Are from this or been to this country and you have further input? Feel free to share! Do you have any questions for Azra? Be sure to thank her!
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