From Iran to Istria: Meet Monica and a Persian Pula Love Story

Total Croatia News


November 5, 2017 – As many young Croatians are emigrating to Ireland, Germany and elsewhere, a handful of foreigners are moving into Croatia. Meet Monika from Tehran, whose love for an Istrian man has led to a new life in Istria. 


1. An Iranian girl meets a boy from Pula. Sounds like an interesting story. How did you meet your husband?

It was a mixture of good luck and adventure spirit. We knew each other from social media platforms before, and we used to talk on a weekly basis, but everything changed when we met in real life in enormous Ataturk airport in Istanbul right at the exit gates. I actually spent 8 hours waiting for his flight, and it was my first trip outside my Iran so it was quite an adventure. Soon our friendship upgraded to a strange new level and we started to plan, first in a joking tone and then more serious as time passed, how we could become a real couple that can do all usual things people do in their relationships. For a start he agreed to come to Tehran and meet my family. I assume this was also not easy for him to do, as he also traveled alone but as soon as she reached Iran, he noticed that Iranis are awesome people who accept everywhere very easily. After he met my family and we both agreed that we are serious, we sailed into a love story.


2. Conducting a long-distance relationship between Iran and Istria must have been hard. What was the reaction of your friends and family? And tell us a little about your wedding.

To be honest we both expected it to be very hard, but in reality it was even harder than our expectation. Distance does strange things to people, and it makes them lonely at times they should be happy with their loved ones. My family was very supportive, and he became close with my father on the very first evening in my house, eating our famous kebab with a big smile. He also learned a bit of Farsi so communication was going in the right direction. The family loved him as much as I did, and soon after a traditional ceremony, we got engaged. This was only his second time in Tehran, a year later. My friends were surprised by my choice but they showed nothing but interest and support. Eventually another year later, we had two weddings, the bigger one of course in my city in the presence of both of our families, and it was a really amazing day that I wished for all these years. I got to wear a beautiful wedding dress, and we had a mixture of Persian songs with a few Croatian ones that echoed long into the night.


3. Was it a difficult decision to move to Croatia, leaving friends and family behind?

It was the hardest decision of my life and the one I think of almost every day. As a Persian girl I am very close to my family and naturally I miss them a lot, but we do keep in touch through online communication on a daily basis so I get to see them at least this way very often.

4. Let’s talk paperwork. Croatia is famous for its bureaucracy. I am assuming that you had one or two frustrations with the bureaucracy. How was the experience for you?

I expected things will be very hard, but to be honest it was even harder than my expectations. For example I just recently found out I need to pay an extra 800 euro for health insurance for one year I wasn’t even in Croatia, despite having sealed, signed and fully translated documentation proving I have health insurance in Iran. This is another big blow to our life budget and it seems there is always something new to get or to prove. We went to many police interviews, translation processes, visa applications, spent a lot of financial resources on it, but in the end it seems Iran was a bit more flexible which especially surprised my husband who had a censured view on life in Tehran. Altogether, a circle of stress and frustration that luckily has its ending.


5. Now that you have made your move, what are your general impressions of life in Croatia, and how are they different from your original perceptions of life here before you moved?

I would say life here is more easygoing compared to my life in Tehran, where I was executive HR advisor for Snapp (a sort of Asian Uber with 10s of million users) working at least 10 hours a day, it is also way more relaxing. What is different is I did expect to have access to new fashion brands and technology products, but for now at least the offer is not so much better than in Tehran. Luckily a brand new Max Stoja is opening next year, and this is where most of my hope is located. What can I say? I tend to like fashion a lot.

As for people, you have to understand I am a very social person which is common in Iran where we like to talk a lot and spend time together, so my general view is that people are a bit more down to Earth and have some not so productive focus on negative news that happens in Croatia, such as political affairs or injustice in general.


6. Three things you love about living in Istria? And anything you dislike?

First of all, and I am sure this does not come as surprise, there is real nature and sea that has such a shape of blue I have never seen in my life. Going on a beach and just enjoying under the few clouds and Sun is something not many places have. Then there is big feeling of multiculturalism that also seems to be a source of pride for locals. On one occasion I met the mayor of Pula Boris Miletić and I have to say I am very happy that such a warm and positive individual is in power and that also hopefully suggest the majority of people here welcome diversity and are very open to new things. The third one would be events, all kind of events. I do not think there is room enough to even start talking how many things happened this summer, but to point out a few; huge concert of my favorite modern musicians 2Cellos in Arena, stylish small Jazz concerts at Fridays in Sergiee street, and the amazing experience at the Chinese celebration in September that also took place in beautiful Arena.

For dislike option I would suggest the surprisingly low knowledge of English in some institutions that caused stress where should not be any. I also see many construction works and unbalanced urbanization process on the outskirts of Pula that endangered nature much more that I would wish for. I do not really understand how these new apartment buildings are spreading so much in a country where the population is in rapid decline. I hope people here will keep their world famous nature alive and healthy, because this is by far the biggest reason why tourism is on such a successful path here.


7. How are Iranians perceived here, and is there any kind of Iranian community in Croatia?

I would say Croatian people know a lot about Iran and Iranians and some of them are really interested in Persian culture which makes me very happy. I know a few other couples who went through similar international adventures in Croatia with whom we keep in touch and share experiences. Also, I am aware of a bigger Iranian community in Zagreb that sometimes organizes Iranian cultural events on which I would really wish to go one day or possibly even help organize here in Pula.

8. What is the big plan for the future?

Despite most young people running towards the West, for now we plan our future in Croatia. I would like the opportunity to help connect more Croatian people with Persian culture, but also Iranians with beautiful Croatia as tourism here tends to grow very fast. The plan is also soon to invite a few friends to visit us and of course within visit get to know Pula, Istria and all Croatia a little bit better.

Interested in following Monika’s journey in Croatia? Follow Irani Girl in Istria on Facebook.



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