From Clubbing to Camden to Chicken Farming in Croatia, Leaving London on a Hunch

Total Croatia News

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From the booming nightlife of one of the world’s major cities, to helping my mother raise GMO free chickens on a family farm, it’s not the transition in life many young adults would willingly take.

In my introduction to Total Croatia News, I mentioned leaving the fast paced and opportunity “haven” of London instead to start afresh in a small village of the Croatian Zagrebačka region. By small village, I mean one street with a milk depot, several farms and a café bar. There is one bus that runs through at 6am connecting you to the nearest big town but returning is near impossible without a car. In short, I decided to move as I thought I had a sign from the universe to do so.

It sounds more than crazy to move based on a suspected “hunch” to a place famed for war and political corruption, and I was stubborn up until the last minute. There were many reasonable factors that influenced my decision to leave and many just as reasonable telling me to stay: Croatia offered a safer way of life but was lacking in professional opportunity. I was young and it could be a “life changing experience” but I also did not know the language or have a clear plan ahead.

Despite the constant back and forth, the ultimate choice to plunge headfirst into Croatian life was based on instinct and the fact that I thought (half jokingly, but probably more seriously than I will admit) the universe was guiding me to so do. It was this gut instinct combined with the phrase “heck, why not” that dictated most of my decision making process, and later adopting from my mother the philosophy of “we’ll cross that bridge when we get there” that guided me to where I am today.

After my family moved, I stubbornly stayed behind with my Grandmother in a small hippie village of East Sussex. Christmas time was upon us and I was desperate to see my family over the festive period. Broke from travelling around the UK and London visiting friends at university, tired of vegan food in the village, I decided to browse online at my potential options in Croatia. To figure out what all the fuss was about.

I would take my laptop to Costa coffee most days to get my daily dose of free wifi and I scoured the internet for university and job opportunities in Zagreb. After a long argument with my mum over the phone about what I will do in the coming future (and subsequent existential crisis in the corner of the cafe with a mocha and brownie in hand), I booked my one way flight to Zagreb Airport and breathed a sigh of relief that I’ll be able to see my family over the Christmas holidays.

I had the intentions of returning and to begin my university degree, but that was until I heard back about one of my job applications in Zagreb. I had been invited for an interview!

Exchanging emails with the representative, eventually we settled on a date. The day after my plane would land, I would have an interview. I sat in the chair surrounded by the miasma of coffee and pondered the success. After months of applications to various jobs in England without success, here, I had an interview ready only a few days after application. Living in England on my own I had encountered many roadblocks and became overcome with loneliness and defeat, but any moves I made directed towards Croatia seemed to fair well with relative ease. I took it as a sign, and realised I had to give Croatia a serious chance when I arrived.

At the time before moving, I saw London as the pinnacle. The huge transport network would take me anywhere I needed to be, which, at my age just meant Pryzm or XOYO. I had my established group of friends and knew more or less how the country functioned – Never count on Southern Rail, Wetherspoons for cheap drinks, and Peckham is the bit you go around. In short, I understood and saw a convenience in London I didn’t want to walk away from.

I am still infatuated with this convenience. I can’t deny that London is a more modern, booming city and I often find myself missing the variety and ease of access it had to offer that Croatia so poorly lacks in. What Croatia does offer in place of convenience for me though, is a sense of belonging. With a strong Russian background, there were many times I simply did not understand or connect with the British culture. I felt the same kind of “click” in Zagreb, as I did when visiting Moscow or our hometown of Yaroslavl.

This “hunch” or feeling of rightness is what kept Croatia in the back of my mind as a legitimate option despite having no real foundations there, only the experience of a few family holidays. So when everything fell into place while preparing to visit, and subsequently when I arrived, I couldn’t help but feel like the universe was screaming at me to go.

On the plane ride over, it was my first time flying totally alone. Nervous and self conscious, I made sure I read every sign and checked my bags over and over. I was petrified. Then on the second plane, connecting me from Warsaw to Zagreb, I had the pleasure of meeting a young Croatian man from Rijeka. We chatted about life in London where he had been working and he prepared me for life in Croatia, giving me advice on the best coffee spots too. We continued our conversation all the way up until we had to depart at the exit of the airport.

I got a taste for what was to come. I felt at ease waiting for my ride, and quietly thanked the universe for showing me what life can bring. What is possible when you give yourself completely up to chance.


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