Foreigners Self-Isolating in Croatia: Do You Feel Safer? Mirza from India in Zagreb

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April 2, 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 TCN, with Mirza Sarhan from India in Zagreb as our 16th 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? In the first of 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 and Germany. Next up, Mirza Sarhan from India in Zagreb.

If you would like to contribute to this series, full details are below. Now, over to Mirza. 

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

I have been doing okay. Carrying on and trying hard to keep my optimism up. Even though you are in self-isolation, time flies by very quickly and in a week or so the routine sets you up but with a routine like this, there is immense mediocrity that scares you. I work & study in Croatia and I have to take my yearly vacation to India. It’s been 2 years, I haven’t seen my father and a year since I met my mother. Unfortunately, I had to cancel my trip due to Coronavirus. I had a play for SKAZ at Theatre Knapp; the festival got cancelled. Uncertain future, homesickness and a rush of feelings. Currently, I share my apartment with my girlfriend who is from Croatia.  

What do you think about the economic measures the government is taking, are they helping your business? 

As I work here in Zagreb, I have to say I am very lucky to be a part of a company that truly cares about its employees. I work as a Community Manager for EX-ALTO Events & Consulting; My employer has been actively involved in ensuring we utilise all the economic reforms the government of Croatia announced and made sure it’s employees don’t suffer. 

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

Generally, I believe I am a person who is vividly curious about the world and current affairs. I have been studying the trace of the virus since first it was discovered in China. I had a sense of assumption that it might go big considering how connected we are as humans today; Though I realised the seriousness of the matter once I saw the outbreak in Italy. As Croatia shares its borders with Italy, I knew, now is the time to react. 

I must admit I truly admire how Croatia as a nation is currently dealing with the pandemic. I believe the numbers speak for itself. Initially, I thought, we are a bit slow in initiating measures, but once the first measures were announced and until today, all I have is appreciation on the way things have been handled. Be it cancelling of events, closing borders and intercity travel, measures like these definitely make you feel safe here. I always follow the everyday live conference by our designated dignitaries.

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

I was raised in the Gulf, but originally I come from India. Coming from such a highly populated country, I believe the comparison won’t be right; Though I can talk about how India is handling it and what could have done better. The Indian government wasn’t late at all with taking this virus seriously. Looking at the number of cases, The Indian Government has done a tremendous job of containing the virus. The whole nation is on a lockdown till the end of April; Borders for all kinds of international travel are closed. The government also announced some economic reforms for the poor of the country.

Still, considering its population, I think the job is hard and will take immense cooperation from the citizens of India. The biggest mishap from the Indian Government was a sheer miscalculation of not thinking about the poor of the nation. Huge populations of daily wage labourers were affected and with transportation suspended, couldn’t reach their hometowns. I also fear Indians lack the medical equipment for our health workers who are at the front line. Croatia is definitely doing a great job in managing the movement of citizens, maintaining distancing between people and I believe support from the health centers for testing is good too. Croatia also recently ordered tons of health equipment from China and UAE. 

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

All the schools, shopping centers, Cinemas, small and medium-size businesses are shut down, with the international and nationwide ban of movement in India. Grocery stores, pharmacies are open every day. Anyone who violates the isolation is meant to serve a prison term of 2 years. I believe India and Croatia both have very strict measures and hence no major outbreak has happened. 

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

A Playstation 4 for sure! 

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

Patience, belief and perseverance are my biggest values and strengths during a crisis like this. Uncertainty truly scares me; When you have drafted a plan for yourself in 2020 and when everything goes to vain, it’s very hard to be optimistic; But I have slowly learned to accept and slow down. I have understood, now are the times to stop running and enjoy the view. To come closer and learn about our inner soul and the people around you with a conscience of becoming better human beings. 

I have also learned that at the end of the day, no matter who you are, rich/poor, old/young, no matter where you live, we all are one. We all are humans and we are vulnerable together and we can truly come together in need at the mercy of Planet Earth. Thanks.

My name is Mirza Sarhan, originally I am from India but I was raised in the Gulf. Currently, I study acting at the International Art’s Centre, Zagreb and work as a Community Manager at EX-ALTO event management and consultancy. As a freelancer, I create videos for my YouTube Channel, write letters for people, design presentations and write articles. I co-founded The Film Society Zagreb. You can learn more about Mirza Sarhan here.

Mirza, 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]



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