I Am A US Citizen, But My Heart Belongs To Another Country

I Am A US Citizen, But My Heart Belongs To Another Country

My body may be in the United States, but my heart and soul will always be in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

When I was seven years old, I stared at a map in Mrs. Farmer’s second-grade classroom for what seemed like hours.

It was a map of Europe, one that I had practically memorized, but I guess my geography skills weren’t as sharp as I thought they were. I was looking for where I came from, but it was nowhere to be found. There was Italy, Spain, Germany, all the places that everyone knew about, but something was missing. My country was missing.

The map was outdated. It only showed a country that no longer existed.

Twenty-one years ago, I was almost born in a war zone. I almost grew up in a place where acts of injustice made it on the front page of the newspaper every single day. I was almost raised in a country where everyone drove a Volkswagen Golf, until I was not.

Until I was five years old, I had no recollection of the place where my family was from. Aside from speaking the language and being given a traditional name, I did not know as much as I wished I knew about Bosnia and Herzegovina. My first visit was blurry, kind of like those childhood photographs where you’re dancing around and your parents can’t quite get you to stay still.

If you’ve read my articles before, then you know I’ve written plenty about my family’s history so instead of repeating myself and focusing so much on the past, I’m going to focus on the present and how I feel right now.

SEE ALSO: My Parents Were Refugees: The Struggles Of A First Generation American

I have been back to Bosnia four times in my life, and each has been uniquely different, but all of these trips share the same memorable qualities. For one, I cannot even begin to describe how happy I am to sit down in a cafe for two hours and drink my cappuccino while I hear snippets of strangers’ conversations spoken in my native tongue.

Yes, I flew halfway across the world and all I could think about during my flight was the moment I could have my damn cappuccino.

But that certainly isn’t the only thing that makes a trip to Bosnia worthwhile. The people make it all worth it. When you go for as long as seven years without seeing your family members, you learn to savor every single moment that is spent with them.

You know that they may not understand everything you have to say about your life in the United States, and that’s okay. You accept it, but part of you can’t help but wonder what your life would have been like if you had grown up in Bosnia.

This is something that my best friend and I talk about all the time, my goodness, how different our lives would have been. I’m not saying we aren’t grateful for where we have ended up, but there’s always going to be that part of you who thinks about how things could have played out.

But that’s not the point.

The point is that being torn between two countries is something that I am going to have to deal with for the rest of my life.

I’m aware that I’m making this sound more tragic than it actually is because the truth is, this is just a part of who I am, it’s a part of my story.

Maybe it is the reason that I feel instantly connected any time I meet someone from a different country, the reason that I taught myself phrases in Spanish just so I could help customers at work because every time I looked at them, I pictured my parents speaking broken English their first few years in the United States. It’s my way of saying, “I’m here for you, we are one and the same.”

My body may be in the United States, but my heart and soul will always be in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

To any other first-generation Americans reading this, I just want you to know that it’s okay if you don’t feel like you truly belong. I have never felt like I completely belonged because well, I don’t.

I urge you to never forget where you come from. Where we come from is important because it helps us remember where we’re going. Whether it’s having your country’s flag hanging in your car or reading the latest sports news in your native language, keep doing it. Keep doing it because it’s part of your story, and don’t you ever let anyone take it away from you.

Cover Image Credit: Personal Photo

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11 Things Y'all Know To Be True If Y'all Are From The South

Northern folk just don't get it.


If you live in the south, there are some things you can completely relate to. It's different down here, and that's why we love it. It is home, and we are thankful that we live here. We wouldn't want to be anywhere else. No matter where we go, our hearts will always be in the South.

1. You have good manners.  

Your parents definitely taught you to ALWAYS say, "yes ma'am," "no ma'am," "yes sir," and "no sir." You learned to always say "please" and "thank you." There's a good chance that you got in trouble if you ever forgot to say those, too. You might have even gotten spanked with a switch you picked in the backyard.

2. Your grandmother makes the best sweet tea.  

Sure, a lot of restaurants do, too, and so does your mom, but there is nothing like your grandmother's sweet tea. She uses way too much sugar, and it is perfect. No one will ever make it as good as she does.

3. Saturdays in the fall are for football.

Morgan Johnson

College football is taken VERY seriously. We love the SEC... except for Clemson fans. But, no matter what team you pull for, you can't go to Williams-Brice and not get chill bumps when "Sandstorm" is played.

4. You never know how to dress for the weather.  

In the morning, it could be 40 degrees outside, so you'll need to dress warm. In the afternoon, it could be well over 80 degrees. Also, don't plan on putting up your summer clothes when it's getting close to winter, or putting up your winter clothes when begins getting warmer outside. It can be 70 degrees in December and 30 degrees in April. Dressing in layers is a skill you master when you live in the South.

5. You complain about Yankees.  

No offense to anyone up north, but you didn't grow up the way we did. You're welcome to come down here as long as you aren't rude. We know we have great warm weather, and we know we don't handle snow very well. We don't need your input. So please, for the sake of everyone, keep your snobby comments to yourself, and learn how to make sweet tea.

6. The sunrises and sunsets are like nothing else.

Morgan Johnson

Sunrises and sunsets are beautiful down here. Whether you're at the beach, driving down the road, or at your house, you will see a picture-perfect sky. Sometimes, it's challenging to drive because it's so bright, but the view is definitely worth it.

7. Sundays call for church, lunch, and a good nap.  

One of the best things in the world is taking a long nap after church on a Sunday. I'm not exaggerating. It's the best. Especially if it starts to rain... I highly recommend.

8. We are super patriotic.

Morgan Johnson

All of the states are red. If you're not a Trump supporter, I promise you, you're outnumbered. We love guns, the military, and America. A lot. We believe in Jesus. We're proud to be American, and nothing will ever change that.

9. There's a church on every other street.  

We have a lot of Southern Baptist churches here. A LOT. There are churches everywhere. On the way to your church, you'll probably pass at least five other churches.

10. People comment on your accent, a lot.  

"Where are you from?"

"Oh, I live in South Carolina."

"I can tell."

This happens anytime you go somewhere.

11. You can't imagine living anywhere else.  

We love it here. We're proud to be from the South and wouldn't have it any other way. Bless your heart if you can't relate. You're missing out.

Living in the South is truly a blessing. Why would you ever want to live anywhere else?

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Day Four In Italy: Florence

This is the day we learned the history of everything


Waking up bright and early we first took the tour bus to the country side of Florence where we visited a medieval town full of shops that lined a beautiful countryside.

CountrysideBrooke Burney

We spent about three hours here just looking around, buying things, and taking pictures. Once the three hours were up, we went to a winery where they explained how they made wine with the grapes in their vineyard.

In the vineyardBrooke Burney

After the tour, they fed us lunch with some of their wine. Then, after we ate, we passed through their wine shop and took the bus back to the Piazza della Signoria. On the way back, our tour guide was telling us about Michelangelo and his time creating the Statue of David. We had to stand in a line for about thirty minutes but when our time came, we were thrilled. We entered and saw artwork from many different artists. However, Michelangelo had a hallway of his own that was mostly filled with unfinished sculptures of statues with David being at the very end.

Statue of DavidBrooke Burney

After the tour of the art museum, our tour guide took us to the square where the churches were and gave us a history lesson on them. He gave us a background on the pictures that were painted on the doors and what they represent.

Brooke Burney

After this tour, we went back to our hotel where we were able to go eat dinner. My friends and I went back to the small square we first went to and ate in a small pizza joint.

Italian pizzaBrooke Burney

If you ever go to Europe, keep in mind that they have a hard time splitting orders. As we were sitting at this table, we asked for separate checks but they made us pay separately on a single check, which was kind of funny watching three American girls pick through their euros.

After dinner, we went back to our hotel to pack for the next day. To the train station, then Pompeii!

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