5+ Years in Split: Meet Expat Elga Mannik from Canada

Daniela Rogulj

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Two idyllic weeks on a Croatian beach is very different from the realities of full-time living. So what is it really like to live in Croatia as an expat? In a new series on TCN, we meet expats who have lived here for 5 years or more, to find out from them the good, the bad, and the ugly of 12-month living in Croatia. First up, Elga Mannik from Canada!

1. Tell us firstly how you came to Croatia? What motivated you to choose this slice of paradise and how long have you now been here?  

I am from Toronto, Canada but had visited Croatia a few times. My sister came here to settle and I followed her when I retired. My mother was Croatian and always talked fondly of her homeland. I fully intended to retire in Europe but was thinking possibly Spain or Italy.  I needed to get my EU passport so when I arrived 7+ years ago, I applied for citizenship and by the time that it came through, I was hooked.  

2. Looking back, what were your perceptions and expectations?  

I really had no perceptions and planned to travel around the country and get a better understanding of the people and the culture. My expectation was to be in a warmer climate where there was a sea and sun.  

3. After over 5 years here, how have those perceptions changed. Do you now view Croatia differently?  

I am absolutely in love with Croatia. I felt so at home here and believed that I could easily assimilate despite not knowing the language. I started out by doing a few semesters at the University here in Split and am still continuing with private lessons. I understand the language a lot better and can speak enough to get by but it hasn’t been easy. I now feel that Croatia for me has changed from an interim holiday experience to my home. I am a Splićanka. I bought a tiny stone house in Varoš and finally feel settled and extremely lucky to be living in such a beautiful place.  

4. After your time year, the 3 things you love most about Croatia?  

The weather, the people, the history (did I mention the weather)!  

5. And the 3 things you would like to change.  

I know a lot of people have issues with bureaucracy and government issues but so far, I  have managed to get things done that needed to be done and really can’t say that I would change much. I am an optimistic person who sees the good in most things and feels that changing things to any great degree would detract from the overall feel of the place. 

6. Given your experiences, what advice would you give to any would-be expat thinking of making the move?  

I would say, what are you waiting for? There is nothing that you can’t find in your home country but so much more than you can imagine.  

7. The most beautiful place in Croatia, and why?  

There are so many beautiful places here, among them Plitvice, Istria, Zagreb…I could go on and on but for me, my weekly hike on Marjan when I’m walking alone through the trees and seeing the bluest water is by far the most beautiful.  

8. Your favourite moment of your time in Croatia?  

Last Christmas, having more people in my house than it could comfortably hold was such a  joy. Covid was receding, we were all vaccinated and I made vast quantities of Kuhano Vino and we all celebrated the end of lockdowns, with ex-pats and locals all crammed in laughing and singing. It was amazing. 

Are you an expat who would like to be featured in this series? If yes, please contact [email protected] Subject Expat

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.


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