Moving from Florida to Zagreb – my personal experience
Being born in the United States, the closest touch I ever had to Croatia was a couple summer vacations in Zagreb as a child and (mainly) the experience of the culture that I had at home. The home-cooked Croatian meals and listening to my parents speaking the language at home – though I had no idea what they were saying. So of course, one day when my parents told me that we’d be moving overseas to Croatia just in time for me to start high school here, I was a little anxious. But through this blog, I plan on explaining to you why this move was actually my most exciting experience so far, and why anybody who is planning on doing the same or who is currently going through a similar experience has nothing to be afraid of.
I was fourteen years old when I left Florida and came to Zagreb, and naturally I was thinking about all the things I had to lose. But now I see that that was a mistake. Instead, one in this situation should be looking at all the things they have to gain from such a journey. Believe me, I know leaving people and everything you know behind isn’t an easy thing to do. But it’s a lot easier if you look at it like a new beginning. A chance to make new friends, getting to see new places, new things, experience and be part of an entirely new culture.
When I started high school it took me a while to settle in. Everybody around me spoke a language I didn’t understand, making it weird for me to try to communicate. Though, after a while I got to know plenty of English speakers ( I was surprised by how many people here my age knew English and could communicate with me without a problem). After a while I took it upon myself to speed up my learning of the Croatian language, and decided to go to tutoring several times a week. This is something that I highly recommend to everybody. Though eventually you can get the hang of a language after some time, tutoring sped the process up a lot. And – this is something you will hear from everyone who does speak the language – Croatian is not exactly the easiest of languages to learn.
Throughout the course of high school I managed to become comfortable with my surroundings and got the hang of the Croatian way of life. Going for coffee three times a day and being there for 3 hours at a time… okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but there is a lot of coffee involved. I also got to know Zagreb really well, which is amazing since when I moved here I barely even knew where I lived. After a relatively short time, I already got to know plenty of people and I really felt as if I had a new life here. I learned that I was wrong to feel anxious about moving here. And that was just the beginning.
That’s when it was time to choose which college I was going to go to. Being interested in economics, management and marketing, I chose the college that offers it all, and in my mother tongue- English. This college being the Zagreb School of Economics and Management. And this where my experience here got even better. The first thing that I noticed when starting at ZSEM is that everybody is awesome. My class is a group of funny, open people who I can hang out with during breaks and outside of college. The professors are the same, and they give you that push that you need to not only learn but understand the curriculum. Being in the second year of the Economics and Management program now, I can honestly say that I feel like I’m on the right track, with college, and with planning my future here in Croatia, where I plan on staying afterward.
All in all, I know you just had to read a lot about me, but what I wish for you to take away from this if you are in a similar situation is that there is nothing to be afraid of. This may sound cheesy, but I mean it when I say that it may not be easy moving to a different country that you don’t know very well, but if you simply look at it as a new beginning, and open yourself up to the new people, new culture, and everything else new, the transition will be a lot smoother. And if you are planning on or you have already started your time at ZSEM, then you are making it even easier on yourself.