Naturally Croatian

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Author: Stephanie Rukavina
Program: Business Administration – International Business
Study Abroad Location: Zagreb, Croatia

I cannot believe how quickly this semester has passed by. It seems like only yesterday that I arrived in Zagreb, all excited to explore the city and learn from my many new experiences. Now the semester is all but over, with exams next week and Christmas songs playing everywhere you go. Zagreb looks beautiful this time of the year, with large celebrations of Advent found in the Center. The parks are decorated in Christmas lights, and little evening markets selling all sorts of hot drinks, baked goods, and handmade ornaments. Living in Croatia for these 4 months has really made me appreciate the culture and traditions so much more. To be able to see all of this first hand is something I am very grateful for. Looking to my future now, I am certain that Croatia will be a big part of it. I have always wanted to have the option to do business with multiple countries in a career that will allow me to travel on a regular basis, and after studying abroad, I have become even more sure that this is what I want. I have gained a new appreciation of my roots, and I am prouder than ever to be Croatian.

I think the thing that surprised me most about studying abroad was just how natural everything would feel to me. I don’t feel as foreign as I first thought I would, and I feel very comfortable here as well, almost like I’ve been living in Croatia my whole life! I have gained a whole new sense of independence, which has also allowed me to travel to Budapest, Hungary for a weekend with a good friend that I made while studying abroad. Before this experience, if someone told me I would be so confident in my abilities and so independent that traveling to a new country, I wouldn’t have believed them. I would have been so worried about getting lost, or thinking of worst case scenarios that I may have not even attempted to go. But now, I wouldn’t even think about it twice, I’m more focused on the positive outcomes rather than the negative ones.

            Something I wish I had known before study abroad is that your experience is never going to be exactly like what you expect it to be. It can be way better or worse, and that all depends on you and how to treat the opportunities that arise. My advice to others is to be open to everything, sure, some things may not work out the way you planned for them to, but often times the best memories and stories come from the opportunities left up to chance.


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