Foreigners Self-Isolating in Croatia: Do You Feel Safer? Sara from Texas in Split

Total Croatia News

sara-dyson (1).jpg

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 Sara Dyson from Texas but currently holed up in Split, as the 32nd 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, Sara Dyson from Texas in Split. 

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

Hey, I’m Sara from Texas. I’m currently (and usually) working from home in Split. This has been my home since 2012. I like margaritas and getting caught in the sun.

I do a few things:

  • Advise people on how to move to Croatia, particularly as it relates to immigration, citizenship and healthcare
  • Build websites for small businesses
  • Operate a Game of Thrones Tour (currently very quiet)

You can reach me on Facebook or on my site

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

It’s touch and go, every day is different. Some days I feel like I’ve accepted this new reality and am excited about using this time productively, and on others days I find myself still stuck in the 5 stages of grief.

Some days I look forward to the innovation and new ideas that will birth from this strangely quiet, distraction-free environment. Other days, I hope if I click my heels three times, I’ll return to Kansas. Not Kansas, Kansas, but the world before the virus tornado carried us away. I keep toggling between denial and acceptance, with a dash of anger and bargaining sprinkled in.

I usually work from home and have been called a hermit on a number of occasions, so this “should” be the same old, same old for me. It isn’t. I miss hugs and human contact and having sunny coffees and conversations without the risk of someone’s face freezing.

The biggest impact on my sanity has been the lack of pazar. Usually, I’m shopping every couple days on the pazar near my house, chatting with my favorite vendors and ending it with a coffee at my local spot. The supermarket is not a substitute as their produce is often rotten. I really miss fresh produce, but I’m starting to see farms setting up delivery options. Just today, I noticed a new produce stand pop up in a retail space that has been vacant for 2+ years. Truly excited to see how local farms adapt to this pazar-less era.

I am keeping pretty busy these days. Between writing for ‘Expat in Croatia’ and building websites, I’m neck-deep Monday through Friday. My only free time is on the weekends, which is when I go full analogue. With the phone on airplane mode, I work on a garden in my lođa with the help of a robot from Latvia. It’s not really a robot, but it does help cancel out my tendency to kill plants. I’ve got cherry tomatoes, cucumbers (hopefully), dill, oregano, green leaf lettuce, basil, jalapenos, cilantro and even rhubarb. Radishes are my next hurdle.

I’m also doing a lot of magazine reading, like in the good ol’ days. I bought a lifetime subscription to Rolling Stone magazine when I was 16-years-old. Whenever I’m in the States, I pick up 2 years-worth at the PO box, bring them over the ocean where they proceed to collect dust. Now, there is finally time to catch up on what Radiohead was doing in 2017.

sara-dyson (1).jpg

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

I think the government is doing a decent job of implementing of a variety of economic and tax relief measures quickly. It is proof that government can function and be effective.

The measures don’t apply to me, but I have seen them help businesses owned by friends and partners, which is good.

However, it’s not all about the measures. They are going to help in the short term, but Croatia has a long-term economic disaster on its hands. For too long, Croatia has viewed tourism as its golden goose with a solitary mission of bleeding tourists dry. That short-term vision of gimme, gimme, gimme and unnecessarily high taxes are why things are so critical now.

A country cannot sustain on one industry alone. The biggest problem with tourism in Croatia is that it unnaturally increases the cost of living for Croatians, while not serving the Croatian community at all. The most successful businesses are the ones that operate year-round and are supported by locals as well as tourists.

I hope that the pandemic inspires change within the government and among residents to create new opportunities, technologies and businesses that serve Croatians and that can be exported to other parts of the world.

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

On March 9, I heard from a reader who thought we should do a post called “Should I cancel my trip to Croatia due to coronavirus?”. At the time, there were only 12 cases and the government seemed to be doing a decent job of delaying the impact here so it seemed reasonable. Croatia had barely been touched.

Within 3 days, things had changed dramatically so I took the post down and washed my hands of it (see what I did there). Just a month later, we are in a new world.

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

I am impressed with how the government is handling this crisis. In particular, I’m glad they launched, which has all the latest information and everything we could possibly need to know about it.

As far as the people, there are still too many still not staying at home. I’m not referring to those going to work or those that have a purpose for being outside or those just taking a walk or those that need space from an abusive family. I’m talking about the clusters of twenty-something Splićani acting like it’s just a snow day. For the safety of your parents and your baba, please go inside, or at least fan out. Dva metara!

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

It is night and day. My motherland America is FUBAR. The US government is led by the most unqualified person to ever be in office (I say that fully aware that there is currently a town in Texas with a goat as a mayor).

While most countries in the world including Croatia have one centralized government leading them through this crisis, America does not. The US has a decentralized government, which gives significant power to the 50 states. The president “could” make a national policy of how to combat the pandemic, but he chooses not to. The president is only concerned about his poll numbers and blaming Obama, so he’s leaving it up to the individual states to decide what to do about the virus.

The 50 states are all doing different things, because they all have different beliefs on the basic facts about the virus and how to handle prevention, spread and treatment. Last week, the governor of Georgia said he just found out that people can transmit the virus without having symptoms. FACE PALM.

People can drive or fly into other cities, counties and states whenever they want. Without one cohesive direction for the entire country, the US will continue to rack up infections and deaths. America now has more cases of any country in the world with a significant lead, nearly 5X what China has alone. We’re #1! We’re #1!

It’s concerning. My entire family and many of my friends live in the US. Some live in states taking it seriously (California, New York) and others live in states that are still debating basic facts (Texas, Florida). I feel safe here, but they are definitely not safe there and there is not a single thing I can do about it. Many aren’t even taking it that seriously because they don’t know they need to. Why would they when their governments aren’t treating it like a big deal?

So yes, Croatia is a doing a much better job. There is one national policy that applies to everyone and it is paying off. Non-essential businesses are closed, people can’t gather in groups of more than 5, we are constantly reminded to keep a distance of 2 meters, and there is no intercity travel. These are all things the US is not actively doing at the national level.

sara-dyson (3).jpg

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

The Croatian president makes clear, focused statements about what the government is doing to protect the nation. Updates are made to multiple times a day.

The US president dementia rambles until he grows tired of yelling at reporters. The web site the US government launched is pathetic in comparison to Croatia’s. The site barely has any content and most links just go to the CDC (Center for Disease Control) web site. The CDC, a national agency, only just started recommending people wear masks at the end of last week.

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

Freshly sharpened knives.

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


At this moment, I feel very lucky that my income is diversified. On more than many occasions in the past year, I’ve actively sought to consolidate and only have one job instead of three. Right now, I am super grateful that I didn’t consolidate. This job variety is keeping the lights on, considering my tour business just issues refunds these days. These weird circumstances changed the perception of spreading myself a bit thin from being a negative into a silver lining.


People are extremely capable of adapting to new circumstances, even when those circumstances are unimaginable. Because the whole world has been affected by the pandemic, it can be easy to think it is the only thing happening and that life has stopped, but that is not true, not for everybody at least.

Real life has continued. People are still working. Babies are being born. New ideas are being thought up. People are passing away for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with coronavirus. Recently, the mother of a client of mine passed away due to natural causes. Because of the pandemic, most of the family couldn’t come to the funeral so they Facetime-d it out to relatives across the country. They adapted. We are all adapting in our own way.

Thanks, Sara. 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