Hi! My name is Paula. I am a 30-year-old product designer born in Croatia who decided to move abroad in search for a better life just to find out that life in Croatia is pretty damn amazing. 🙂
1. You made the switch to Croatia. Tell us a little about the decision process and how long it took for you to get on the plane.
Being pretty disappointed with Croatia, I moved to Amsterdam right after finishing my faculty. I lived there for around 4,5 years – I spent a lot of time exploring the country, traveling, dancing, going to parties, and hanging out with friends. I quite enjoyed it – it was a valuable experience for me. When Covid hit, Croatia opened up quite quickly in comparison to the Netherlands, so I used the opportunity to spend some time with my family and friends back in Croatia while working remotely. I was quickly reminded of the warmth of Croatian people, endless coffees, and a much easier tempo of living. After a few months, I flew back to Amsterdam, but I didn’t feel anymore that I want to live there. I kept thinking of great memories created back in Croatia, so pretty quickly after that, I found a job back in Croatia and moved. It all happened in a few weeks – I applied for a job, got it, went back to pack my stuff, and said bye to Amsterdam!
2. What did your family and community back home think of your decision at the time?
My parents were in disbelief for a few months, but I felt quite supported by my friends and family in Croatia, even though most of them were surprised by my decision. I still quite often get asked WHY would I move back to Croatia after living in Amsterdam. I usually say my time there was amazing, but I wouldn’t repeat it.
3. Think back to the time before you arrived. What were your perceptions about Croatia, and how were they different from the reality you encountered?
I lived in Croatia until I was 24, so I was aware of most of the realities and the things people in Croatia usually complain about. By living abroad, my perspective changed quite a bit, and I saw my country in a completely different light when I was moving back. I feel there is this culture of collective dissatisfaction that is quite strong in Croatia – western countries are often idolized, and we often take for granted the beautiful way of living we have. We’re forgetting that we’re quite connected to each other; we easily open up, spend a lot of time hanging out, and at the end of the day, this is priceless to me 🙂
4. What were you most nervous about making the switch? What was your biggest fear, and how was the reality of what you found?
I didn’t really have any fears about coming back. I was actually pleasantly surprised because I got a feeling a lot of things progressed over the 4 years I was away. I was a bit worried about the bureaucracy and paperwork I need to do, but people working in the tax office actually helped me a lot, so everything went smoothly.
5. You are still here, so obviously, the pros outweigh the cons. Tell us about some of the things that you love about being in Croatia, as well as some of the things you don’t like.
I love the way of living – endless coffees, hanging outs, pretty much everything about the community, better work/life balance, and a slower pace of living. Next to that, we really have beautiful nature, a great climate, food, and a lot of sunshine. I even love a bit of the Balkan craziness that comes with living here. I think this is a country with a lot of potential, and I would love if we could see it that way and start putting more effort as individuals in order to make it better economically. I don’t like that we see the current economical state here as the sole responsibility of a few people/government. I think we all have a say in it, but we need to stop complaining and do something about it.
6. What advice do you have for others thinking about making a move from the diaspora?
I think the key to a painless move is patience and gathering as much information as possible. Everything can be solved, and people are quite willing to help out, even when it comes to complicated bureaucracy stuff. After you cross that hurdle, there is a lovely country full of possibilities on the other side. 🙂
7. How do you think Croatia can better assist those who are looking to return to the Homeland?
I didn’t need much assistance, so it’s difficult for me to say how it could have been done better. I’m not sure what it would look like if I grew up in another country or made a permanent move to the Netherlands for a longer period of time. Coming back after up to 5 years of living abroad is quite painless.
Thanks, Paula, and enjoy your time in Croatia.
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