Jelena Tamindžija is young and successful, a graduate of art history and Croatian language at the Faculty of Philosophy in Zagreb, having lived and worked in France, Italy, Germany and China, she currently resides in France where she has begun a successful business. She feels she could realise her ambitions in Croatia as well, but with more, a lot more patience. This 26-year-old’s ultimate goal is to travel and work her way to learning more and implementing the knowledge in Croatia, in Dubrovnik
“After completing the study of art history and Croatian language in Zagreb, I decided to head out to faraway lands. It began with a scholarship from the French Embassy in Zagreb and the Erasmus programme in my beloved Italy which I have always considered my second homeland. After Erasmus I stayed another year in Italy as an intern at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection and Architecture Biennale in Venice,” said Jelena and explained why after she wrote her doctorate she temporarily delayed defending her title, as dubrovniknet.hr reported on March 5, 2017.
“I received a scholarship from a university in cold Vienna after which I intended to write my doctorate. This was the turning point in my decision to delay my doctorate studies for a while, at the moment when I handed in my thesis: working for 6months at one of the most wonderful libraries in the world was a great pleasure for me with occasional moments of solitude buried in books. But when I handed in my thesis and received a mark and comments, the thesis was put away into one of the many drawers in the university. I believe this is a feeling many scientists know and it is hard to fight off the feeling that you have done nothing and that thesis will not help anyone. Of course that’s not true, but when I saw my work on the shelf among thousands of others I felt the need to be more proactive in society and I headed out for specialisation to the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy in Berlin which in the end led me all the way to China.”
What experiences do you have from those countries?
Every country was special to me as I would always have an excellent group of friends from around the world (who now visit every summer in Dubrovnik). Coming to a new culture, learning new languages, seeing the way people behave with each other in another context, turns life into an everyday adventure.
How hard or easy was it to leave Croatia?
It wasn’t hard to leave Croatia as I was always somehow at home in Europe and elsewhere. Going to China after my studies felt like a super fun idea until I cried at Frankfurt airport when my parents called me and said the familiar “Take care, my son,” although they never had a son.
What have you done so far and what are your plans for the future?
In Shanghai I worked in a French art gallery, but after two years of living in China, I decided to come back to Europe. Shanghai really is an excellent city and I believe it is one of the most exciting places to live in one’s twenties, but I began to miss some things (such as cheese which the Chinese don’t like) and it really is far from Europe and my family. For now I am living between France and Croatia due to work and my private life so I’ve given up on planning. As soon as I plan something, I end up in another part of the world.
What is the project on traveling?
The project we’ve been working on for almost a year is called The Basetrip. People who travel have probably been faced with the issue of preparing and finding all necessary information on their destination. What we’ve done with The Basetrip is have the programme collect all necessary data in one place such as the types of electrical adapters, voltage, currency, time difference, price differences in goods, public transport, taxi services, fuel, accommodation, electricity, natural gas and average salaries.
Furthermore, The Basetrip offers data on credit card (very important when traveling to Asia, for example), availability of ATM machines, WiFi network, internet speeds, mobile operators and their prices.
There is also the health tab with information on vaccinations in certain countries, emergency numbers, current hazards (for example the Zika virus in Brazil) and embassy contacts if there are problems in a foreign land.
Included is information on the allowed blood alcohol content, illegal substances, advices on tipping and finally visa details.
Who is it meant for?
The very idea came from my friend, programmer Sven Kapuđija from Zagreb who was due to move to Portugal and couldn’t find all the data on that nation in one place.
The project is meant for people who travel, whether frequent travellers of those who set off once a year. Since especially young people travel today and move to study, work or private reasons, we decided to offer this project to all users, especially those who don’t have the times or don’t now where exactly to search and gather all information.
As I have myself lived all around, I met countless times with the same issue of searching for accommodation, life standard, how much money will we need in a foreign country while we study, is my driver’s license valid in Turkey and what will I prepare when I climb the Nepalese mountains. It’s nice that the programme helped me as well when I booked my ticket to Thailand, checking differences between Croatia and Thailand and having no idea Croats need a visa, while my roommate from France didn’t need one.
What are the reactions so far?
When several users of Reddit and Lifehacker published information on our project and recommended it, followed by a post on The Next Web, the number of visitor suddenly jumped from several thousand to several hundred thousand so the page nearly collapsed as it wasn’t optimised for so many people.
Since then, we have been upgrading the webpage constantly and receiving many wonderful messages from people who would want to help us. The “big fish” of the business world have contacted us in the meantime, from airlines to accommodation booking companies so our hands are full at the moment. We are also currently translating the website into 6 languages as well as including the category of cities as naturally cities in a nation can differ greatly.
Do you plan on coming back?
I am currently working on the project of art residences in Adriatic Hotel in Rovinj owned by the excellent Adris Group which recognizes new trends in tourism and culture and uses its programme to entice and invest in talented people in Croatia. I also write for Total Croatia News about Dubrovnik County so I am constantly connected to Croatia and this is just what I wanted.
For Dubrovnik I would really like to start a project of renovating and presenting summer villas, something I am already planning with my good and talented friend Anita Ruso. Since I grew up in Rijeka Dubrovačka with the stories and works of Professor Nada Grujić and Slavica Stojan, I have a special love for those summer villas and it saddens me greatly to see a growing number of them in poor condition.
Do you feel you can accomplish your ambitions in Croatia?
I believe I could come back, but I also know that in Croatia I have to be (a lot) more patient and ignore sceptical comments. I am surrounded by extremely talented people who have decided to stay in Croatia and Dubrovnik and I believe those people are already introducing significant changes to society. If we the youth are not optimistic, who will be?