Foreigners Self-Isolating in Croatia: Do You Feel Safer? Johann from Philippines/USA in Zagreb

Total Croatia News

April 8, 2020 – Do foreigners in Croatia feel more or less safe sitting out COVID-19 here than in their home country, and what are their experiences? A new series on Total Croatia News, with Johann David Go from the Philippines/USA in Zagreb as the 33rd contributor.

Oxford University recently published some research on government responses to coronavirus which showed that Croatia currently has the strictest measures in the world. While inconvenient, this is a good thing in terms of reducing the spread of the virus, and I am certainly not alone in my admiration of the official Croatian handling of this crisis in recent weeks, both in terms of action and communication. 

But what do other expats here think? And how does it compare with the response in their home country? Would they rather sit this one out here or there? A new series on TCN, we will be featuring expats from all over the world to see what their views are on life in corona Croatia rather than back home. So far we have heard from expats in Croatia from Romania, USA, Ireland, UK, Mexico, Argentina, Spain, Singapore, Holland, Canada, India, Hong Kong, Venezuela, Latvia, China, Honduras, Hungary, Moldova, South Korea, Japan and Germany. Next up, Johann David Go from the Philippines/USA.

If you would like to contribute to this series, full details are below Johann’s interview.

Hi I’m Johann Go from USA/Philippines. I have been living here in Croatia for the past almost 4 years. Many people ask me why I would come here to live and work when the US has so many opportunities. My answer is because I know this is where God has me for now and the summers I get to work at a camp and school years working with young people are far more fulfilling than anything. 

Firstly, how are you? Are you alone/with someone? Tell us a little about your situation and sanity levels.

I am actually doing really well. After 3 weeks of being mostly at home, I have finally some sort of rhythm in my life. Not ideal but it works. The best part was I recently got a roommate from the UK and so that has been a blessing to have someone to experience this with. Constantly being at home isn’t easy and the constant thoughts of how family is doing in the US and in the Philippines isn’t easy, knowing that if something does happen, I may not be able to just hop on a plane and go. Being an extroverted-introvert, quarantine life hasn’t been all that hard. I enjoy the more relaxed-not-rushing-into-the-next-thing lifestyle. The hard part was getting to the recognition stage where this is what life will look like for now. In order to keep sane, I and at times with my roommate, we prepare for our summer bods(pray for our downstairs neighbors…), catch up on Pandemic:How to Prepare for an Outbreak (Netflix if you didn’t catch that), read books that I have started since 2018, trying to be the next Martha Stewart (keyword… TRY), and try new things, etc. 

When did you realize that corona was going to be a big issue?

Right off the bat (pun not intended), when China’s numbers were growing. I knew something was not right and with my distrust towards China news… I was kind of not too optimistic about it. When the numbers went up in Italy, we all knew at that time that it was something more serious than just a China problem. 

What is your impression of the way Croatia is dealing with the crisis? How safe do you feel?

Funny thing was a good Croatian friend just asked me about this, this morning. The situation is terrible but I am grateful. In the beginning when Italy’s numbers went up, I was really frustrated with the Croatian government because of the slow reaction to adding measures to the country. But as time went on, I became more and more satisfied and now to a point of really impressed with how the government of Croatia has handled it. There was a week or so when I was in a crisis mode as well of whether I should stay or go back home. I drove expat friends to the airport and each time, that made me question my decision to stay. I don’t judge other people’s choices because each one had their reasons and I respected that but I kept asking myself why I am staying.  My family lives in the big cities of New York City and Manila in which the virus can spread quickly with how dense it is. We know how New York City is the epicenter of it all and being far from family has been hard. I am writing to you now here in my apartment in Zagreb. I don’t feel safe all the time but I know this was the safest place to be to ride out the virus. 

Now compare that to your home country and how they are handling it. What is Croatia doing better/worse?

In light of what I am about to say, I would just like to point out that it is easier for us to sit and complain about what we think should/should not happen based on our expectations. It is not easy for governments, health workers, companies, or individuals to make decisions that have long-term impacts in a time like this. So I am grateful for those who step up and make those calls for us and also give grace to them. 

Compared to the US and the Philippines, what is Croatia doing right… in my eyes, as I have said, I am very satisfied in terms of measure with what is in place. But considering the economic impact, that I have not much to say other than to help and support one another in a time like this. I heard friends frustrated with the government because of the long-term consequences. It is easy to blame authorities for not looking out for the little ones but my prayer is that the ones in power would be really selfless in a time like this because the nation is really running when the people are functioning well. I believe Croatia has done well thus far and has prepared the health system to have beds, ventilators, etc ready for a spike in cases, quarantine is being enforced as much as they can, and the information flow has been consistent and constant. Svaka cast! 

What about official communications from the authorities, compared to your home country?

This is one I believe the US needs work on. Not having a united front as to what the government’s stance is on the virus brings distrust and misinformation to the general public. Croatia early on gave power to the crisis management team and that allowed communications to be clear. Whether the government is united or not, it gives the people confidence that the information is coming from one source and that is what we follow! Thank you Bozinovic, Beros, Capak, Markotic, and many others! 

What’s the one thing you wish you had taken with you into self-isolation?

Home workout equipment. 

One thing you have learned about yourself, and one thing you have learned about others during this crisis.

To take things one day at a time. We often worry too much about what the future may hold and what we would like to see ourselves to be in 10 years but I realized that we are not guaranteed more than the present. To entrust it to God and live a life that displays that.

We are all approaching this virus for the first time and many of us have never lived through this big of an epidemic. Because of that, people react to crisis in different ways. We need to extend grace to one another in times like this. To the government, neighbors, employers, employees, friends, families, and to ourselves. 

Thanks, Johann. Stay safe and see you on the other side.  

TCN is starting a new feature series on foreign experiences of sitting out COVID-19 here in Croatia compared to their home country. If you would like to contribute, the questions are below. Please also include a para about yourself and where you are from, and a link to your website if you would like. Please also send 3-4 photos minimum to [email protected] Subject Corona Foreigner

If you would be interested to record a video version for our partners please let us know in the email. Thanks and stay safe. 

Foreigners Self-Isolating in Croatia: Do You Feel Safer Than in Your Home Country?

Firstly, how are you? Are you alone/with someone? Tell us a little about your situation and sanity levels.

What do you think about the economic measures the government is taking, are they helping your business? (PLEASE IGNORE IF THIS DOES NOT AFFECT YOU)

When did you realise that corona was going to be a big issue? 

What is your impression of the way Croatia is dealing with the crisis? How safe do you feel?

Now compare that to your home country and how they are handling it. What is Croatia doing better/worse?

What about official communications from the authorities, compared to your home country?

What’s the one thing you wish you had taken with you into self-isolation.

One thing you have learned about yourself, and one thing you have learned about others during this crisis. 

TCN has recently become a partner in Robert Tomic Zuber’s new R+ video channel, initially telling stories about corona experiences. You can see the first TCN contribution from this morning, my video from Jelsa talking about the realities of running a news portal in the corona era below. If you would like to also submit a video interview, please find Robert’s guidelines below 


The video footage should be recorded so that the cell phone is turned horizontally (landscape mode).

There are several rules for television and video news:- length is not a virtue- a picture speaks more than a thousand words

In short, this would mean that your story should not last more than 90 seconds and that everything you say in the report should be shown by video (for example, if you talk about empty streets, we should see those empty streets, etc.).

How to do it with your cell phone? First, use a selfie camera to record yourself telling your story for about a minute and a half. Ideally, it would be taken in the exterior, except in situations where you are reporting on things in the interior (quarantine, hospital, self-isolation, etc.). Also, when shooting, move freely, make sure everything is not static.

After you have recorded your report, you should capture footage that will tell your story with a picture, such as an earlier example with empty streets.

One of the basic rules of TV journalism is that the story is told in the same way as a journalist with his text. Therefore, we ask you for additional effort. Because we work in a very specific situation, sometimes you may not be able to capture footage for each sentence of the report. In this case, record the details on the streets: people walking, the main features of the city where you live, inscriptions on the windows related to the virus, etc.

The same rules apply if you are shooting a story from your apartment, self-isolation, quarantine. We also need you to capture footage that describes your story.

When shooting frames to cover your reports, it is important that you change the angle of the shot (in other words, shoot that empty street from several angles). Also, when shooting a detail, count at least five seconds before removing the camera to another detail.

The material should be about 5 minutes long (90 seconds of your report + frames to cover your story).

After recording everything, send us to Zagreb, preferably via WeTransfer to [email protected]


Subscribe to our newsletter

the fields marked with * are required
Email: *
First name:
Last name:
Gender: Male Female
Please don't insert text in the box below!

Leave a Comment