Croatian Diaspora: Meet Sasha Ergic, a Happy Returnee

Total Croatia News

A new series on TCN as we look at the relationship of Croatia with its diaspora, of those wanting to return, those who tried and left, and those who came to Croatia and successfully made it their home. We begin on February 28, 2016, with a success story, and a young lady called Sasha Ergic, who left a successful career in Switzerland to open her own business. Five months later, she is loving life and lighting up Croatia at the same time. 

1. There is a lot of talk about diaspora and moving back to Croatia. You are someone who made the decision and moved. Tell us about your background briefly and why you decided to make the move?

I had a great job in Switzerland, Geneva, as assistant of commercial director and chief of projects. Organising events was my dream and that company made it true for me. Eager to learn more, I invested in myself and obtained a Swiss degree in Marketing and Communication.
While doing research for one project I send a couple of emails in French to different Croatian companies, hotels etc., and I never got any reply.

It was then that I realised that there was a lack of information for French speaking tourists in Croatia. Since the 90s I’ve only visited my grandmother in Croatia so I never actually thought about tourism or any business here.

Yet, here I saw an opportunity for myself. I have a lot of French-speaking clients from Switzerland and France who would like to discover Croatia, to spend a weekend here, business trip, seminar, or any other private or corporate event. I decided to make the move and here I am.

2. What were your expectations prior to the move? How were they different to what you found when you got here?

Lack of information on the internet (today we like to google everything) didn’t help much, so my expectation level wasn’t high. Well, yes, I thought that it will take me about a week or two to get started (it is said that you can open a company in 24h) but in reality it was more like two months… Lots of paperwork, different services to do one same thing, payments that you can’t do with your credit card but cash only…etc. But I’ve done it finally!

3. People always talk about the bureaucracy – how was it for you?.

I must admit I’ve heard a lot more about it than actually experience it badly at first hand. I’m not politically oriented, and I do not know many people here, yet I get the job done. Can’t complain so far.

The only thing I can complain about is the lack of interest from the people I’d like to work with. Let me explain:

I’ve opened this event organisation and coordination agency, and I have some interesting, original, eco-friendly led furniture as well in my offer. I write at least 25 emails a week trying to get in touch with hotels, villas, bar or night club owners or directors in order to a) try to find a way to work with them on my future events, b) get the offers for the rooms, seminars, cocktail parties…etc. for my clients and c) present them my offer of furniture – I’ve had (in three months) 7 replies to my mails and 3 meetings! This I do not understand and have trouble accepting.

4. How have you been received by locals? Did they think you were crazy?

Ha, very interesting question! Yes, they sure did! Even my own family! Crazy, out of my mind leaving countries like Switzerland to come here… But I can understand that it comes from a completely wrong picture people have about every country abroad. “Money doesn’t grow on trees in Switzerland”, I’ve tried to explain, “we actually do work from 9am till 6pm”! But I gave up trying to explain this and continue setting up my business. Anyhow, for me, all the money that I can earn in Switzerland can’t buy my daily walks by the sea, the peace of mind, the happiness of a cloudy windy day… I’m happy here!

5. You have been here five months now. How is daily life? What has surprised you in a pleasant way about life in Croatia, and what frustrates you the most?

I’m still getting used to life here. As I said previously, I’m pretty happy with my everyday life in Vodice. Like doing shopping at the local market, having my morning coffee at one of the local bars near the sea, cooking with fresh vegetables bought from peasants…

However, I haven’t gotten used to the fact that in supermarkets you can buy Spanish peppers or beet, I do not understand why do we import when we have all so many possibilities to produce and export?! Switzerland is three times smaller in size than Croatia and yet 87% of their economy comes from export? Where is the flaw here? I was in Dubrovnik couple of weeks ago and saw oranges and tangerines rotting on the trees by the road, yet in supermarkets we buy oranges from Greece?

6. And finally, what advice do you have for people thinking about moving back from the diaspora?

Croatia is a beautiful country and I love it. I wouldn’t live anywhere else. Whoever thinks moving back here, whether it is to work or just retire, they should, now is the time! Anyways in a couple of years nobody will be able to afford to buy a house or apartment here – it’ll get totally expensive the way it develops!

Light Your Event is an event organization and coordination agency that supports the design, preparation and practical arrangements and logistics of events such as weddings, receptions, seminars, inauguration etc. through services provided to individuals or professionals.

Key tasks:

Identify customer needs and expectations
Search and select providers, suppliers, stakeholders, locations, catering services, entertainment …
Establish quotations and service supplies with the customer
Plan and design the realization of the event and various activities and their progress
Organizing the logistics of the event and coordinate
The most important – Light up your event!

My aim is to get foreign companies from Switzerland and France to organise their team buildings and other corporate (or private) events in Croatia. For that I’m trying to spread its good image (via diverse publicity and social media) of my country and its tremendous possibilities! At the same time, I cooperate with experienced Croatian teams in this field and hopefully bringing them more work.

Learn more about Light Your Event on Facebook.

If you have a diaspora story – successful integration or you decided to leave Croatia having tried it – and would like your story to be featured on TCN, contact us on [email protected] 


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