BANJ LUKA

flag of bosnia

If I could describe this interviewee in one word, I’d call him an explorer; someone who is constantly looking for new opportunities and experiences. When I asked him to tell me about his background, he kept it short and sweet. He was born in Slovenia, but raised in Banj Luka, Bosnia to Serbian parents. He finished high school and went on to law school. He didn’t finish law school though because he simply didn’t enjoy it.

Upon hearing this, I automatically assumed that he left home to seek better economic opportunities. So I was surprised when he told me that the main reason that he left home was to increase his view on the world and to explore and experience new and diverse cultures. New York City wasn’t his first home after leaving Banj Luka. He resided in London for two years prior to moving to the “Big Apple”. Regardless of the fact that he spent time in London, he still decided to move to New York because he had heard that it is the “Best City In The World” (I Happen To Agree) and he wanted to experience it for himself. Living in London for a while helped him to dispel any preconceived notions that he had about living in a big city.

Getting to the U.S. was difficult in that the process of getting a visa can be not only long but frustrating. He said that it was especially difficult to get a visa from Bosnia. He finally obtained a visa through his job on a cruise ship; the visa was not a work visa though, it was a visa simply for visiting.

My interviewee came over without a solid network. He was a “pioneer ” in that he was the first of his family to immigrate to the U.S. When I asked if he would have preferred to have had a network or to have settled in an enclave, he said no. Before this interview, I did not know that there is actually an enclave of Bosnians in Astoria, Queens. I asked my interviewee if he had tried to reach out to this group in any way during his process of moving to this country or during the process of settling in. He explained that the community of Bosnians are a different ethnic group than the one that he belongs to. The community in Astoria are mostly made up of what he called ‘Muslim Bosnians’. My interviewee identifies as a Serbian who was born in Bosnia. He said that his ethnic group is different from the other ethnic group and that these two ethnic groups don’t get along very well.

Another theory that we discussed in the class this semester dealt with whether or not new immigrants are getting jobs, the ease with which they are getting these jobs and if their entrance into the job market was reliant on their network or their involvement with an ethnic enclave. So when I asked my interviewee if finding a job and housing was difficult and if it would’ve been easier if he was within an enclave, he again said no. He said that he currently works in construction, with a moving company and he also works as a bartender. He said that he found his first job here in the U.S. within 10 days of his arrival here without using/ having any connections. Again, the theories about immigrants mostly settling in ethnic enclaves or relying on their ethnic networks upon their arrival to the United States is being debunked.

Lastly, my interviewee and I talked about what he likes about NYC and his future here in this city. he said he mostly loves how open people here in NYC are to making conversation. He said that making conversation with strangers here does not come with the same implications as speaking with a stranger back home would. He said that if he were to walk up to a woman that he did not know back home in Bosnia and start to talk to her, it would be implied that he is only talking to her with the endgame of getting her phone number. According to him, that implication is a lot less prevalent here in the city.

When I asked if he saw himself living here in NYC long term, he surprisingly said no. I was caught off guard because he had so many nice things to say about NYC and it really seemed to me as though he was enjoying his time here. He said that although NYC is incredible, it does not fulfill him. He said that he would much rather settle in Miami. Of course it was cold the day that we conducted our interview so I cannot say that his decision didn’t make sense. He said that Miami would be perfect for him because it’s a lovely city, the weather is amazing and the girls are beautiful.

That sounds like NYC for six months out of the year to me but to each its own.

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