Dženana Brkić comes from Ključ, a small town near Bihać, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
She decided to come to Slovenia after realising that her grammar school was not giving her a good enough education.
“At the end of third year, most of my classmates decided to go to university. They were talking about where to go, and they were all thinking about going abroad. A friend of mine said she would go to Germany. She said that Bosnia cannot give her what she wants. This is when I started thinking about leaving, too. At that time, my father lived in Celje, because he was working for a construction company. It took me a year to convince him, but then he finally gave up.”
She spent the first year on her own. Her father worked in Croatia during the week, and came to Celje over the weekends. Later, her mother joined them, and now they have been living together for a year.
“At the beginning, all I did was study and work. First at McDonald’s, now in Zara.”
She never thought of Bosnia as inferior, even though she has always felt that there was a difference. “Whenever our relatives from Slovenia or other countries visited, I felt the difference.” My grammar school offered a lot, but I wanted even more. I have this now, and it shows – in my school performance, my ideas, my way of thinking. I’ve always been ambitious, and why not follow your goals if you have the chance.”
In Slovenia, she enrolled in the third year again because of the language barrier. Luckily, there was a Bosnian girl in her class, which served as her personal Google Translate, as she likes to joke. “This made it so much easier for me. Some classmates understood me well, others a bit less, but by the end of the school year my Slovene was good enough to hold a conversation without any help.”
Dženana is a Muslim, but she never felt like being different. “I never felt like a foreigner. At first, they were asking me about my home country and religion, about the hijab and if we must wear it. I told them that it is only compulsory for orthodox Muslim women.”
Her classmates knew about Bosnia. They knew that so-called Southeners are more hot-spirited, always smiling, very kind and accepting everybody. They have been to Sarajevo and Mostar. This is why they knew that Bosnia is a small and beautiful country, but at the same time a country where job prospects for young people are bleak.
“If you are more ambitious and want to become a psychologist or a mathematics teacher, you won’t get a job. Unfortunately, everybody is leaving, mostly to other European countries where they can lead a better life. My brother lives in Germany, my sister is in Bosnia, but my friends are either in Germany or in Switzerland.”
She told her classmates about the education system, teaching methods and teachers.
“There were only good things to tell, except for the education system, for which I can find no excuse. The differences are really too big. Exams in Bosnia are easy – you learn the teaching material by heart, and you can easily get an A or a B. Here, you have to connect the dots, you must understand the subject if you want to get good grades. English is much more difficult and I still struggle with it, even though I spent almost two months in Edinburgh, Scotland, last summer to improve my language skills.”
This trip was the reason why she delayed her final exams. She already passed all her of fourth-year subjects, but she did not take the final exams then. Apart from English, she also had problems with Slovenian.
“You can tell that I am not a Slovenian, even though I work hard to improve my language skills. Now I can already have a conversation in English and I am certain I will pass the final exams,” says Dženana, who wanted to study psychology, but decided to apply to the Faculty of Social Work, because she feels she does not have all the knowledge needed to study psychology.
She is still homesick, but not as much as before. She also misses her friends and teachers, but not her school. Using Facebook and Instagram she keeps in touch with two of her friends, and she visits her sister and nephews every month.
She likes typical Bosnian dishes, such as sarma, kvrguša (a chicken pot pie), and baklava. Her favourite dish is burek.
“My favourite Slovenian dish is potica.”
In other aspects, Bosnia is not so different from Slovenia, she explains. Bosnians like football, children also play basketball and volleyball, listen to Dino Merlin and Divlje Jagode, watch American romantic comedies, such as A Walk to Remember and The Fault of Our Stars, while the most popular fairy tale is Snow White.
Dženana is currently focused on her final exams. She revises a lot, but is certain she can make it and enrol in social work study programme. She chose social work because she wants to help people, the same way others helped her when she most needed it.
Good day: Dobar dan.
Thank you: Hvala
My name is Dženana: Ja sam Dženana