Mila Kavara travels worldwide seeking out her European roots 

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It’s wheels up for freshman Mila Kavara who has traveled to various European countries: Croatia, Bosnia, Germany, England, the Netherlands, and Belgium. 

Scattered throughout Europe, Mila travels every other year to visit her extended family in six different countries. Both of her parents were also born in Bosnia and Herzegovina—countries in Europe—however, during the Yugoslavian Civil War, they had to leave their countries and were sent here to the U.S when they were teenagers.

Mila has had a unique opportunity to spend time in each of the countries and experience the different cultures. She has made many exhilarating memories while traveling throughout the continent of Europe and someday, she’d even consider living there herself.”

Through her parents’ knowledge and her many trips, Mila has grown to know more and more about European culture with each and every visit. She has seen many staple European tourist sightings, spent time in a lot of the cities, and even tried food from a myriad of restaurants—the clams being her favorite thing she’s taste tested.

“Usually, [my siblings and I] hang out in the cities,” Mila said. “[We] went to restaurants for dinner every night, walked around a lot, went to a lot of big sites, and went swimming everyday when we were in Croatia. We went swimming a lot in Bosnia too.”

Croatia and Bosnia are located on the coast of the Adriatic Sea, across from Italy. North of Croatia is Germany, which borders the Netherlands and Belgium. It sounds far, but the distance from London to Brussels, Belgium is a mere 226 miles.

Mila is able to recount her favorite experience in each country she’s traveled the long distance to, and each memory is dramatically different. 

“[My favorite memory in] Croatia was going to the beach every day,” Mila said. “[In] Bosnia, [my favorite memory] was going to the fair. [In] Germany, it was climbing the Cathedral. [In] London, it was going to the palace, [and for] the Netherlands, it was biking around Amsterdam.”

Even having traveled and experienced the differences and similarities of these six countries, Mila can still confirm Croatia as her favorite because of the beautiful beaches.

Mila has not only experienced everyday life in these countries, but she has also toured the major sites of each country.

“[My favorite sites I’ve seen were the] Big Ben in London,” Mila said, “[the] Zlatni Rat in Croatia, the Palace in London, [and] going to see a castle in Cochem, Germany.”

Because Mila has been able to spend more time in each area than the average tourist, she has truly been able to see what life is like for a European teenager. In Europe, there are many apparent cultural differences from what is experienced in the United States. One of the biggest differences is that in Europe, many teenagers drive motorcycles instead of cars. Also, in London, they drive on the left side of the road. 

Even the holidays spent in Europe are different from those spent here; yet, the holidays vary from country to country.

“I’m not sure [if the people in Europe celebrate] Halloween,” Mila said. “A lot [of the people] don’t celebrate Christmas because they are Muslim.”

Also, Mila has noticed one of the most prominent cultural differences between here and these European countries to be the change in language. 

“[They speak] Bosnian and German,” Mila said. “[It’s] mostly those two in most of those countries, and [they speak] English in London.”

Though Mila’s parents have learned to adapt to life here in America–including the cultural and language differences–and more specifically West Michigan, her family has continued to celebrate and partake in European holidays and traditions embracing their unique cultural roots and heritage.

“[My family] celebrates a holiday called Bayram,” Mila said, “[it’s] a Muslim holiday. My other family members might celebrate other European holidays.”

Mila has had a unique opportunity to spend time in each of the countries and experience the different cultures. She has made many exhilarating memories while traveling throughout the continent of Europe; someday she’d even consider living there herself.

“[I’d consider living in] Bosnia,” Mila said. “because that’s where most of my family is.”