Croatian Graduate Perspective: The View from Emma in Vinkovci

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Emma in Vinkovci
Emma in Vinkovci

With many young people emigrating from Croatia, what keeps those who decided to stay (at least for now)?

The emigration of young people from Croatia in search of better business opportunities and living standards, unfortunately, is a well-known story. Each of us young people in Croatia knows at least a few people from their environment who, at one point, said that enough was enough and decided to seek happiness somewhere abroad.

According to official Eurostat data, from 2015 to 2019, Croatia’s population decreased by 4.26 inhabitants per 1,000 citizens only thanks to emigration. Therefore, the Croatian emigration rate is the second-worst in the European Union (after Lithuania).

These data indicate that economic prosperity influences population decisions to emigrate. Besides, due to the exodus of the young and working population, there is an additional reduction in GDP per capita that closes the cycle of poverty and decline in Croatia.

However, there are many who are aware of the poor position of young people in Croatia but still do not want to give up and decide to stay in Croatia. We’re wondering what do those young people, recent graduates, think about this whole situation and what are their reasons for staying in Croatia.

We continue our series with Emma from Vinkovci in eastern Croatia.

First of all, please introduce yourself. What are you studying/what did you study? Do you have a job currently? 

My name is Emma Stephanie Gaunt. I am studying costume design, and I am in my final year of MA. I am currently working as a key costumer and as a costume standby on a project for a television series.

What is it like being a student/recent graduate in Croatia during this coronavirus time?

For faculties that operate on a project basis, it has not been easy. We had very few opportunities to connect and meet new collaborators, and the main thing with this job is to be known for who you are, how you work, and what you want to do. But currently, the situation is improving, and projects are coming to be a bit unexpectedly.


What are your experiences searching for a job in your profession in Croatia?

I haven’t been actively searching for the last year because of Covid-19, and theatres aren’t permitted to make new productions yet, so I am sure not many theatres need a costume assistant or wardrobe assistant in the theatre. Sometimes in this profession, jobs get offered to you. Usually, people from past projects contact you about a new project and want to include you. That has been working for me for now, but it wouldn’t have happened if I have been passive in the past about my work.

What do you think of the Croatian Government’s efforts to provide opportunities for graduates?

I think they are doing a fine job regarding engineering and medical students, but I don’t think there is much they can do for costume design students.

Many young people your age decide to emigrate from Croatia to find a better job opportunity and/or life standard. What do you think about it?

I think they should go for it. Croatia is not a big country, and some jobs are not as wanted here as they are somewhere else. One of the main reasons for choosing costume design is to go out, travel, and improve. There is a lot of things you can learn out there. Everyone works differently.


In your opinion, what would encourage young people to stay in Croatia?

I have noticed lately that primarily students attached to their family or the ones who are going to inherit a house or piece of land are optimistic about staying here. I have also noticed that lots of people who leave Croatia come back for its relaxed everyday approach and way of working and living, and of course the great weather that we have here. I think for every student, the key to staying is mainly attachment and home. I guess the thing that would encourage young people to stay are great job offers straight after university and a career that provides lots of traveling because it wouldn’t make you wish to leave Croatia.

Have you ever considered moving out of Croatia and why?

Yes. I feel that Croatia is really small for me and that if I could reach more audience, I think I should. I don’t have many attachments here in Croatia, so it is easier for me to leave.

As a recent graduate, what is your impression of the education system in Croatia? What do you think is good about it and what could be better?

What I like about the Croatian education system is that, unlike some other countries, we can go to high schools that educate us about a particular vocation and craft. It is very useful, and it has also been for me.


Based on your own experience, can you say that everything is possible in Croatia if you work hard, work on yourself, are educated and ambitious?

Yes, I believe it is, just some jobs here don’t have the audience for it, and that can maybe be a problem, but sometimes you can reach your audience online, so it also works.

If you could change only one thing in Croatia, what would it be, and why do you think it’s important?

The thing I really don’t like in Croatia is the old communist system stemming out in different ways and functions. For instance, last year, during the first lockdown, people were being checked if they stayed at their homes by the police a few times in 2 days for some people. Even people who lived during Tito’s time still stand by his politics.

As a young Croatian, what are you most proud of in Croatia?

The country’s beauty and the lifestyle. And of course, our football players.


Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the future of Croatia, and will it be a better or worse place for your children?

I think Croatia is one of the best countries to raise your children. It is a really safe and innocent country. I believe it will be a better place.

Are you a student or recent graduate who would like to contribute your voice and experiences to this series? If yes, please contact [email protected] with the subject “Graduate.”

To read more from the Croatian Graduate Perspective series, follow TCN’s dedicated page.


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