Dear Readers and Friends,
This blog is about you, as much as me! I want to bridge the gap because when I first came to live in Croatia in 1999 I experienced some major culture shock! I honestly felt like a dog, I couldn’t speak or understand anything.
But of course, I eventually caught on.
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Anyway, people have been asking – why in the world did you leave the “richest country in the world” to come to live in obscure Croatia? and so to save time, I decided to write a blog post about it.
Yes, that’s right!! It’s time for some basic fun facts about me!!
How this Blog began:
In 2015, at the suggestion of a colleague, I start blogging! He said why don’t you start a blog? What shall I call it? Amerikanka in Croatia. End of story!
Due to life’s demands, I was basically an “accidental blogger”. Now I have started blogging much more regularly, as my time has freed up a bit more. This blog is about the expat lifestyle. As emigrating to the European continent has gained popularity, particularly life in Croatia, I thought I would share my experiences about it.
Maybe I can share you a few misadventures along the way, based on my own experiences with getting to know how things work here.
But you also have to do your part and let me know what you would like to know more about.
When have people been asking me – where are you from originally? Are you an American or are you Croatian?
Well – both!
Yes, I’m Croatian, and although I have been in Croatia for many years, I came from California. My hometown is Los Angeles, and I spent 10 (wonderful) years in the San Francisco Bay Area.
San Francisco / Split connection
In my opinion, SF is a lot like Split! It shares many similarities – like a very European lifestyle with good public transport. The love of coffee, the arts, newspapers, walking and talking by the sea brings people – the ability to live like a king or queen on very little cash. There are free concerts, libraries, and museums on designated days of the month. With a little effort, even the poorest of students can attend art galleries and foreign films. To sum it up – Simple and elegant.
By the way, my motto for 2018 is – “UNFOLD” Do you have a motto for the upcoming year?
And now, time for those fun facts about me:
- My dad was an actor and my mom was a concert pianist. They met in LA and married less than a year later.
- I used to work for Van’s Tennis Shoe Co. and Disneyland while going to college.
- I earned my degree in Business Administration and worked in Silicon Valley as an accountant and financial analyst.
- I helped with the UN50 celebration (1945-1995) at Golden Gate Park and met some very interesting and influential people, including Rosa Parks, Queen Elizabeth, Desmond Tutu, and others.
- When I first visited Croatia in 1999 I came as a tourist – but I kept rescheduling my return flight!
- I believe in the expression, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” – in other words, try to be a good guest and adapt to the culture of the people you are living with.
- I got my love of travel from my mom, who cycled through Europe in the 1950s at only age 22 years of age with a group of other young people. It’s a good thing she did because a year later, she married my dad :).
- My Mom is mainly French-American and my dad is 100% Croatian American so I had some relatives to meet when I got here. (OK, dozens of cousins!)
- My first time to leave the country was in 1983 when I flew to Australia and visited friends for the summer. I climbed Mt. Ayers and visited the Great Barrier Reef. Basically, it was an unforgettable experience.
- I spent the first 12 years in Croatia living on an island in the Adriatic Sea. Since jobs were scarce, I ended up worked five years in a grocery store. After that, I began working online as a native English proofreader and as my Croatian improved, as a translator and eventually was appointed by the courts as a “sworn translator” or as “sudski tumač” as it is called in Croatian.
- I’m the only one in my American family that speaks Croatian. I only knew two phrases when I got here – “Kako si (KAaaah-ko Seee) ?” which means, How are you? and Do Viđenja (Dough Vid-jenn-yuh! which means, See you later!). I learned by hanging out, listening, and watching American TV programs with Croatian subtitles. When I got serious, I plunked down some money and went to school 😉
- I had my first child at 39 years old, and everything was just fine. I had my second kid four years later at the ripe old age 43. Both were born completely naturally here in Croatia and it was great. My personal experience is that Health Care in Croatia rocks! (Now, is that a fun fact or not? Most people shuddered when I told them I planned to have babies in Croatia.)
- Being a mother has been one of the best experiences of my life.
- After 12 years of living on the island, we moved to the city, where I spent an unforgettable 2 years in Split, where I worked as a tour guide around the Palace. (I paid at EFST (Split University of Economics) for quite an intense course which cost around 1.000€ and now I have a professional license.) Many expats make excellent tour guides. There are many historical sites (Klis, Trogir, Brac and Hvar islands) all around Croatia and no less than 8 national parks.
- I now live in Zadar area with my family. It is estimated at being over 2000 years old.
- My teenaged kids are bilingual and have dual citizenship, as do myself. It is not so hard to do, just a lot of paperwork, and things here take time, so plan to be patient.
- I am self-employed, and besides blogging, I dabble in real estate, linguistics, and tourism. I opened my own business, it cost me a little over 100€ and this was also a great idea though I was scared when I did it. I pay into a pension fund and will draw a pension here in Croatia, eventually.
- I traveled back to the USA in the Fall of 2016. The best and cheapest flight I found was with Norwegian Shuttle and I give them a hearty thumbs up. The cost of airfare has really become more reasonable – a round trip ticket cost me 600€ (basically half of what I paid in 1999).
- While in America, I reinstated my American driver’s license and had it transferred it over to a Croatian drivers license. Here in Croatia, you are expected to get an eye exam and take a psychological test!! Imagine that! It is quite simple, so no worries. For those who want to convert their driver’s licenses, the best place to start is the local police department. I have to say – I spent a fraction of what I would have paid had I retaken the test here. I paid 100€ which is 750 Croatian kunas for the light examination and fees plus ID photo and taxes, compared to 10,000 kn. It tends to be very costly and time-consuming because a driver’s license is treated like a luxury, but in reality, it is more of a necessity.
- Last but not least, I hope to provide an insider’s view of life abroad – particularly here in Croatia. Compared to other places, it still seems to be one of the cleanest and safest countries. The only “downside” is that the economy so if you feel a bit of entrepreneurial spirit flowing through your veins, working on the world wide web is a viable option.
I love my family, they are the greatest:
I travel around a lot – for business and for pleasure.
Till next time,