Growing up with two cultures pulling you each way can be difficult to handle. For sophomore Amera Becirovic, culture is her life. Becirovic was born in Mostar, Bosnia and lived there until she was three years old. Although she didn’t grow up in Bosnia, she carries her culture with her each and every day.
“I like the environment. When I go over there I love the atmosphere, its a lot different than the United States. It is open and filled with nature there. I like the European atmosphere,” Becirovic said.
Becirovic’s family came to the United States due to the war in Bosnia. It was no longer safe for them to reside there. The education systems and residential areas were acceptable for raising children. Coming to the states wasn’t as easy as it seemed. Becirovic’s family left their extended families in Bosnia, and headed to the states alone. They knew returning to Bosnia in the future was not going to be a possibility for them. There were better economical and educational opportunities in America. They also knew the states were safer, filled with freedom and fairness.
“When we moved here, we had to live with a sponsor for a couple of months. Then afterwards my parents found jobs and we lived on our own. It took a couple of years for them to actually apply for citizenship,” Becirovic said.
Adjusting to the American culture, and way of life was not an easy task. There were many different changes that Becirovic’s parents had to face. Along with the language barrier, it was difficult for them to adjust to the social norms and traditions held in the United States. Although they still struggle occasionally today, her family has made a life for themselves.
“They moved to America when they were in their 30’s, and I have lived here my whole life, so they haven’t adjusted to it the way I have,” Becirovic said. “They have adjusted to the best of their abilities. There are obviously some values and cultural things that they follow that they grew up with over there. They still celebrate holidays that have meaning to them, as well as religious practices.”
Becirovic has noticed several cultural differences between Bosnia and America as she has grown up. She feels as if Americans are more open-minded than the citizens of Bosnia. Citizens in the states are encouraged to have their own opinions and beliefs. After visiting Bosnia four times since she became a citizen in America, she feels as if her homeland is a bit more conservative.
Growing up in America was a blessing according to Becirovic. Although her Bosnian culture is important to her, she believes her childhood wouldn’t have been as memorable.
“I am so appreciative of all of the opportunities I have had and the lifestyle I have been able to live here. If I had lived over there, I would not have had anything that I have now,” Becirovic said. “I wouldn’t have my car, I wouldn’t have gone to college, especially not an hour away. Every aspect of my life would be different.”
For Becirovic, coming from a different culture has humbled her. Growing up with a different culture than all of her friends made her realize how blessed she is to still carry the authenticity of her homeland with her. Through her holidays and religious practices, she has kept her culture close to her heart. Although she wouldn’t change her experiences for the world, she is glad to have her Bosnian heritage.
“It gives me a different perspective on life. Growing up here I have been privileged, but I have also come from nothing, so I have two perspectives,” Becirovic said.
As for her culture, Becirovic plans to carry it with her throughout her lifetime, while developing opinions of her own.
“There are some things that will always be engrained in my mind, but as I’m growing up I am forming my own opinions on things, and there are some things about my culture that I don’t care to carry on. I will stay true to some aspects of my culture, but I’m still going to develop into my own person and do things my own way,” Becirovic said.