Contributed by Dejana Saric. Check out more of her posts from this summer here.
Despite the fact that this is a city I have never been to, everything I see in Beograd carries a shine of familiarity: the façade of the city, the smell which wafts out of its pekare (bakeries), the language which I hear spoken all around me; the first time I walked down Knez Mihajlova street I found myself waiting for it to suddenly transform into the scenery of Sarajevo (the only city in the Balkans I have every spent any concrete time in) as if I really have been here before, and the streets would suddenly transform into something I knew. Several times over the past couple of days, I have even found myself imagining what my life would have been like if my family had stayed in Beograd, if serbo-croatian was the language I spoke everyday instead of the mere 20 minutes I spend talking with my parents a week while I’m at school, and if the routine I’ve tentatively developed over the past couple of days was my reality. A lot of this can be attributed to novelty, of course, and a sheer curiosity about a country and a city that I was born in, and which in some way I have an inherent belonging to. But it seems that with every such thought I also have to remind myself how lucky I am that my reality is something different, that even though my parents have never fully managed to let go of the fact that they had to leave their home, their culture, and their friends, that they would make the same decision every time so that my sister and I could have the sphere of opportunities that we do. In a country with excruciatingly high unemployment, crumbling infrastructure, and salaries which people cannot live off of, I suppose this means everything. Rather than a fully formed idea, what I am sharing now in this blog post are the shadows of thoughts which have held me captive over the past couple of days, and which I think will continue to do so for the next several weeks, and indeed I wonder how I will feel at the end of two months in Beograd.