Rachel, outbound to Croatia

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5 months have passed and looking back it seems time has flown so fast. I don't just mean while abroad. Rotary tells you that exchange is a 3 year process. I am half way through my exchange and my memories of the "before going abroad" are so clear its freaky. From the intense nauseousness that hit me in the parking lot of the St. Pete college the morning of my interview. To the group yard sale the outbounds from Citrus County did to help raise funds. To last goodbye I gave those kids before they left. Talking to the future outbounds gives me flashbacks of how I felt before, during, and after my interview, when I knew I got accepted, when I found out which country I'll be calling home, and the first Lake Yale Orientation. It was all a year ago and it seems like they happened just yesterday. Yet, I can feel in my soul that I have changed. I am not the same as when I boarded that plane in August, I don't want to lose the person I've become. I've learned a lot about myself that I never could have in the States. 

Being away from Florida has shown me that it's my home and I long for it, especially these snowy winter days. I took a lot of things for granted. Most importantly quality hispanic food. What they qualify as guacamole hurts me in my soul. The beaches I hated, seem like a haven now. I have only visited the coast once here and it was too cold to swim but what people tell me, they have very few sand beaches. Just small pebble beaches. The cheesy beach decor makes me smile now, when I see it. I learned after some tiring and sucky days that I crave nachos and they are my comfort food (not cheesecake as previously stated). I learned which college I would like to go to, something I've never had an answer for and some clues to what I want to study. I've learned all about my flaws and what I need to work on, to be the person I want to be. 

My daily life here is comfortable. I go to school, then after or before I hang out with my classmates at their usual cafe bar. Before I left I only knew that I wanted to push myself to be more social and I am making progress. I'm not where I want to be exactly but I'm still working on it. For the rest of my exchange I want to act more like a Croat, not an American living in Croatia. For the most of you who don't know what most Croats act like, I have made a list of things I've noticed every Croat does no matter what age they are. (9-99) 
How to be a Croat:
1. Socialize at a cafe bar/ coffee shop for 3-8 hours a day with friends or people you want to be friends with. 
2. Curse. all the time. For any reason. For no reason. Especially when greeting a friend anywhere. Croats are very creative with their curses and most of former Yugoslavia and some of the other Balkan countries use Croatian curse because they are that great.
3. Insult friends/ yourself. That's how you know your friends with that person. 
4. Crude jokes are so popular. Everyone makes dirty jokes all the time.
5. Participate in Nightlife. From concerts, to special museum nights to just having a calm night in the old part of town. 
6. Be a great hostess.
7. Taking up a sport or musical instrument. Learning to play an instrument is very popular here. Every town has a special music school.