September 2008. “Kids, we’re moving back home!”
“Umm, dad we are at home?!?”
“We’re moving back to Bosnia.”
“I’m sorry did you say Boston …?”
When my parents decided to move back to Bosnia there were mixed feelings. Of course I was sad to leave my life in Canada but I couldn’t believe I was given the opportunity to go live in the mother land, to live in Bosnia, to eat in Bosnia, to breathe Bosnia – Yes I am going home, I AM Bosnian!
When the car pulled into Banja Luka and I looked around at my new home … I became Canadian so fast.
The Oxford dictionary defines culture shock as “the feeling of disorientation experienced by someone who is suddenly subjected to an unfamiliar culture, way of life, or set of attitudes”.
To say that I was experiencing culture shock at the time seemed insane, how could I be shocked by a culture that was mine? How could the people, the country, the food, the everything I identified myself with be so foreign to me?
I realized try as I might, there were things I would never understand about life in Bosnia, even if I ate all the čevapi in the world or danced folklore till my feet bled.
I began to feel left out and memories of Canada flooded my mind. I remembered how as a kid I wished I could be more Canadian just to fit in. The embarrassment I felt when no teacher could pronounce my name right the first time, how I considered going by Amy just to make life easier. I even remember one teacher telling me my name was phonetically incorrect. Identifying myself as Bosnian became a type of defense mechanism, an excuse for why I just didn’t understand some aspects of Canadian life despite having grown up there.