Jonah, outbound to Croatia

Dobar dan. Hey everybody, I’m going to jump right in to my life here in the best and most beautiful country in the world, otherwise known as Croatia. Even though I’ve only been here for a week and a half, I have already created memories worth a lifetime. But, I’m going to stop wasting time and start to discuss my experiences so far in Hrvatska.

Since I haven’t started school yet, every day is kind of last minute and random. For example, on Sunday I went with my Club Counselor to a Rotary Event called “Rotary Health Days” on Trakosćan Lake. Whereas, Friday night, my friends dragged me to a music festival in Varaždin called “Špancirfest” (I will go into more detail on those events later).

However, on a regular day with no special events, it goes as follows:
Wake up around 8, shower, and get dressed for the day. At 8:30, I usually go downstairs to eat breakfast which is either a sandwich or a bowl of corn flakes. I’m going to go off on a tangent by saying that cereal in Croatia and how it’s prepared is completely different than in America. So, my host mother pours the milk BEFORE the cereal. Again, she pours the MILK BEFORE THE CEREAL. That alone is a huge red flag in America, but there’s more. Once my host mom has poured the milk (before the cereal), she puts the bowl of milk in the microwave, and heats it up. Let me remind you, we aren’t eating oatmeal or porridge, we are preparing cereal. By far, the biggest change in my lifestyle since my arrival in Croatia.

Where was I again? Oh, that’s right, my routine.
From 9 to 12, I go with my family to run errands. Errands like going to the grocery store, butcher, deli, bakery, and other food shops (we love food). Afterwards, around 1 or 2, I help my host mom to prepare lunch. In Croatia, lunch is the biggest meal of the day and is normally eaten with the entire family.

Later, at about 3, I go with my mom to visit my host grandmother. We ride our bikes to her house, and run her set of errands due to her difficulty with walking. When we deliver her groceries back to the house, we drink tea and talk in Croatian. By that, I mean that my mom talks with my grandmother in Croatian, and I sit close-by, silently listening (silently not knowing what is going on).

We get home at 5 and rest until dinner. Dinner is at 7, and is normally only eaten by my host mother and I. We eat sandwiches and fruit normally, and talk for another hour. I go to a local café with a few friends at 8 and we hang out, talking until 10. When I get back home at 11, I wind down and fall asleep at 12.

Again, my routine will be different once I begin school on the 11th. In school, I will take 10 classes in a week, but only 7 classes in a day. My school begins at 7:30 and ends approximately at 2. However, the train that I must take to get to and from school takes around 40 minutes to travel on, sigh.

Recently, I went to a music festival called Špancirfest. All it was, was a 10 day long party in Varaždin with street vendors, performers, concerts, and great food. I went with a few of my friends to walk around the streets and see the concert for that night. First there was a Serbian rap group (which I enjoyed), and afterwards there was a band aimed toward teenage girls (which I did not enjoy as much). The concert was packed full of people, and I think that the outcome of people was record-breaking for Špancirfest. Once the concert was over, we walked through the streets of the city. We managed to get a ride back home at 2 in the morning, and let me tell you, I fell asleep as soon as I got in my room (and the car that took us home). I was exhausted.

A few days later, my Club Counselor Lily invited me to go to a Rotary event which entailed eating delicious soup and meeting new people. I was hooked before she could mention that it was also a 5k run. We drove to Trakosćan Lake, which was about an hour and a half away, and did what she promised… meet and eat. Fortunately, I didn’t have to run the 5k, but instead, got the chance to hike around the lake (don’t worry, I enjoy hiking). Once our bellies were full from goulash, we toured a castle set atop a hill overlooking the lake. There was tons of history inside and tons of good pictures outside. We were both tired after all the eating, hiking, and climbing, so we left in her car (again, I slept in the car). I’m known for falling asleep in Florida, especially in cars.

To sum everything up, I have had a phenomenal time. Croatia is awesome, the people are even better, and I feel even better than that. I just want to thank Rotary, and all the Rotarians that make this experience possible. I can already tell that Croatia is going to change me forever, and I have only been here for a week. 1 week down, only 40 more to go! Goodbye, or Doviđenja!

To see my page with photos click HERE