Dear friends, family, future Outbounds, Rotarians, and everyone!
As you probably already saw, my name is Tomomi and I’m 16 years old. I left my home in Pompano Beach of about 110,000 inhabitants for Dubrovnik, a town with a population of about 40,000 and can I just say that it was the BEST DECISION I EVER MADE!!!!! Dubrovnik is BEAUTIFUL. Yeah, you can see pictures on Google and say “how pretty” but it is truly breathtaking in person. Dubrovnik is so unique because there is mountain and sea. Usually, places have one or the other but not Dubrovnik! I’ve been here for three days and I just can’t believe it. It feels like I’m in a dream. Every once in a while, I have to pinch myself to make sure it’s real. I just can’t thank Rotary and my parents enough for this amazing opportunity. My wonderful host obitelj (family) consists of a mom, dad, 17 year old brother, 16 year old sister who is on exchange in Florida, and a 13 year sister. I don’t have siblings, so this is a new experience for me. I am very excited to be a younger and older sister!
On the day I arrived (August 25th), my host family took me swimming! I forgot my swimsuits at home, but my host family was so kind as to buy me a new one; a very nice Rotarian in my sponsoring Rotary Club, Mr. Bob or as I call him Royal Highness Bob, is coming to Dubrovnik in late September and is bringing me my swimsuits. The beaches here are very different than the beaches in Florida. Here they have PEBBLES! Also, it’s very deep. I can’t even touch the floor! The water is quite choppy. The next day, I met with Lara, a Croatian inbound that came to my district (6990 IS THE BEST!) and we went out for coffee. Now the thing about coffee is that it is VERY bitter. I am not a coffee drinker so maybe for me it was bitter. I put 3 bags of sugar and it was still bitter, but I still drank it anyway. I learned that in Croatian culture, people sit in cafes for HOURS even if they’re finished with their meal or drink. They just keep chatting. After about an hour, I could not take it anymore and we left to go explore the Old Town. Lara then showed me Stradun. Stradun is the only street that is level in Dubrovnik. She also showed me my school: Gizmnazija Dubrovnik. I’ll be starting school on September 3rd , if you’re wondering. I also learned the greeting Adeo. It is like a hello but only if you aren’t going to continue the conversation with the person. For example, if you were walking down an ulica (street) and you see a neighbor (susjed), you could say “Adeo”. For dinner, we had Palačinke. It is like a pancake and crepe in one. I got the limun or lemon one and it was great! In Croatia, lunch is the biggest meal. Dinner is usually something light. My host mother’s cooking is DELICIOUS. My host dad also cooks well. Sorry, pai (dad in Portuguese), but you might need a couple of lessons from him. Tomorrow, my host family and I will be driving to Vienna, Austria and Bratišlava, Slovakia for my host dad’s triathlon. I’m so excited!
1. Make a list of things you are going to bring. This helps you keep track of what you pack. I made a list at first but then I completely forgot about it. I totally forgot to bring my swimsuits, Ranch (sadly, no ranch here), and noodles.
2. Buy a converter in your host country. I bought a converter on Amazon a week before I left, and it doesn’t fit in Croatian outlets. Here in Dubrovnik, the outlets are type F. So, if you want to buy a converter before you leave, do some research to buy the right one!
3. Say “Yes”! You may have already heard this a bunch of times but it’s true! When I arrived, my host family wanted to take me swimming. I was a bit tired from traveling so I honestly was not in a mood to go swimming. I was going to say ”Ne, zao mi je” (no, sorry) but then I then I saw how much they wanted to take me, so I agreed. They even bought me a swimsuit! So moral of the story: SAY “YES”! You won’t regret it!
4. Don’t drink coffee when you’re jet lagged. If caffeine doesn’t affect you then you can go right ahead and have a sip of coffee but if it does, then I strongly discourage it. I went out for coffee with Lara and drank a small cup. I was already having trouble sleeping with the time difference, but the coffee made it even worse. I went to sleep at midnight and slept until 1a.m. I could not sleep so I unpacked and started this journal. I was finally able to sleep at 8a.m. I ended up waking up at 3p.m… that was not very fun so don’t drink coffee when jet lagged.
5. Be patient with your host siblings. My host siblings are quite shy. They don’t really talk to me unless I talk to them. They are very nice though. Today, my host brother talked to me for the first time yay!! My host sister talks to me occasionally. I’m sure they’ll warm up. After all, I’ve only been in their house for 3 days!
6. Read and pay attention. Turns out I have been using lotion as soap oops… I didn’t pay attention to the label and thought it looked like soap, but it was lotion.
7. Change your money to your host country’s currency at the airport. It’s better to be prepared when you arrive in your host country. I didn’t change my currency and I thought to trade with my host family, but I keep forgetting to ask.
So that’s all for now! I hope these tips are helpful! Thanks for tuning in to Tomomi’s Croatia Talk (TCT)!
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