The Clash of the Cultures (Croatia)

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

            The experiences in Croatia are never-ending. Since my arrival I have seen so much and experienced quite a few festivals and events that I didn’t know even existed. One of my favorite things about Zagreb is the stands that can be found throughout the center of the city. When I first arrived here, the stands were selling freshly roasted corn on the cob, popcorn, and even some sweets. It was common to see these stands on every corner! Now that the season has changed, the corn has been replaced with roasted chestnuts, and let me tell you, they smell amazing! Zagreb seems to have a large focus on local and organic food, as there is several outdoor farmers market that work every day and sell a variety of goods grown or created by local farmers. I have gone to these markets a few times now, and every time I’m greeted by everyone’s friendly smiles.

While all these experiences have been amazing, I have faced some minor challenges. While many study abroad students may agree that language was probably the biggest challenge they faced when moving to a new country, the same cannot be said about me since I am fluent in the Croatian language. My biggest challenge was leaning to manage my time, and understanding how the public transport system works. In Croatia, the culture is more relaxed, slow paced lifestyle. This is sometimes reflected on the public transport system. I have had multiple times where I am late to class because I missed my bus because it came too early, or where the bus was too late. I have learned to always leave extra time to get to class, because you never know what kind of delays you’ll face. Another challenge I faced was homesickness. I missed my family back in Canada a lot, especially my mom and my sister. I feel like I haven’t seen them in such a long time (other then our Skype sessions). And even though my dad and grandma were closer here in Croatia (about two hours driving), I still missed them like crazy as well! Just like anything, some days passed very quickly, but others I had homesickness like crazy, making this a difficult challenge.

            For other students who are also facing these challenges or worried about these challenges if they study abroad, my advice to you is not to stress with it. With all of the Skype calls and messaging, you’ll never fall out of touch with your family. It’s completely normal and expected for you to miss them, but you’ll survive! Studying abroad is an amazing opportunity, and any challenges you face will be tiny in comparison to what you would gain from this experience. It’s worth it, trust me!