2022 was the year too magnificent to be true

sara after mars
Me, immediately after trekking the Life on Mars Trail on island Pag

2022 was BONKERS.

I could probably say this in a more eloquent way, but eloquence has no place here. Bonkers is the absolute perfect word to describe this roller coaster. No other characterization could possibly suit.

Everything happened. All at once.

Every week, some new crazy awesome thing occurred. A new achievement. A new event. A new interview. A new speech. A new award. A new employee. A new business trip. A new piece of Croatia discovered.

There was no time for us to just sit back and absorb any of it. By the time one incredible thing was over, another extraordinary thing was in the works.

It felt like a ferris wheel. We’d anxiously ascend towards the apex but would only get a brief glimpse of the vista before shuttling back down to the ground.

‘Round and ‘round we went, without pauza – never quite breaking long enough to take it all in or recoup our strength.

In anticipation of writing this end-of-year recap, I got a bit paralyzed. Where do I even start? What do I share? What do I leave out? There is just too much to say. No one will read 10.000 words.

Twisting about trimming down a list of accomplishments for public consumption is truly the best problem we could ever have.

I am immensely proud of our team who, quite frankly, knocked it out of the park. This year was demanding, and they stepped up, overachieved, and innovated at every opportunity.

So, to end this life-changing year, we wish to share with you some of our favorite 2022 moments from the wonderland of Expat in Croatia.

Hop, skip and jump around:

The facts are these…

Our team doubled in size.

eic staff meeting 191222
The whole team during our weekly staff meeting

Expat in Croatia is not a single person. While it may have been at one time, it could never be a solo project ever again. It takes a tremendous amount of effort to do what we do, and thus a gaggle of people is required.

We each have our own unique skills, responsibilities, and quirks. When combined, we are greater than the sum of our parts.

We kicked off 2022 with five team members, including myself. Five people already felt like an army, given that the first 6 years of this adventure were just me and a laptop. In 6 short months, four more joined our pod.

We are officially bursting at the seams and could not be happier about it. It wouldn’t surprise me if EIC doubles again in 2023. All in due time.

In alpha order, our gang of 9 currently includes:

  • Andreja Jurić (Bosnia and Herzegovina) – Jr. Systems Administrator
  • Danielle Schiebel (Canada) – Social Media Manager
  • Lorena Curavić (Croatia) – Account Manager
  • Lucija Perić (Croatia) – Local Assistant
  • Marija Tkalec (Croatia) – Content Manager
  • Mirela Jusupovich (Bosnia and Herzegovina) – Special Projects
  • Steve Fierens (Belgium) – Account Manager
  • Teri Maxey (United States) – Coordinator
  • And me, Sara Dyson (Texas) – Lady with many hats

If you want to join our band of coyotes, keep an eye on our jobs page here.

I applied for Croatian citizenship.

me citizenship
At Split MUP, waiting to submit my application for Croatian citizenship.

On the surface, this may seem like a personal share, and not a share about Expat in Croatia as a company.

While it is deeply personal to me as human individual Sara Dyson, it would not even be a possibility without Expat in Croatia.

Many people assume that I do what I do and live where I live because I have Croatian heritage. I do not. My mother did a 23andMe test thingy and it revealed that we are 2% “Balkan” – whatever that means.

Sounds like any blood relevance is in the margin of error. Hence, applying for citizenship based on descent is not an option.

Instead, I chose Article 12 – Special Interest. Essentially, I must prove to the government that I provide a benefit to Croatia and that it is in their interest to give me nationality. My basis for this application is Expat in Croatia and all that we do here.

My application was 147 pages long and keeps growing, even though it’s already submitted. It’s chock full of our articles, testimonials from our audience, press about EIC (both domaći and international), speeches I’ve made, letters of recommendation from Croatian businesses that we work with and, most recently, an award. We can talk about that last one next year. 🙂

If I am granted nationality, it will be because of the hard work of every person on our team, the dedication of our Croatian partners and the gracious and endless support from all of you.

There are simply not enough thank yous in the world to everyone who has helped me get this far in my Crojourney.

The government knows about us.

split mup
Split police station (MUP)

I always wondered at which point we would fall onto the state’s radar. It was an inevitability. What I wasn’t sure about was how our discovery would be received.

Our whole business is the Croatian government. We explain in great detail how they work, what they do and how to succeed within the system.

We rely on them for information and cannot properly serve our audience without their cooperation.

This year, we finally saw the signs of awareness.

A woman from the government of a town near Split called me personally to ask about the rights of digital nomads. A MUP officer in another town directed a foreigner to visit our site for information.

The cherry on top happened while I was making a statement at the police station about why I wanted Croatian citizenship. The caseworker said that everyone in Split MUP knows about Expat in Croatia and that they are grateful for the work we do because it alleviates the burden on them.

The government gets a bad rap. By reputation, they can’t possibly do anything right – which isn’t true.

Doing what we do, we are intimately aware of the challenges they face, the moments when they go beyond the confines of their job descriptions and the improvements they are making.

There were two occasions in the last 10 years when Split MUP could have kicked me out if they had followed “the rules”, but they didn’t – and thus, Expat in Croatia exists and I’m still here.

No government is perfect, but Croatia’s bureaucracy and the people who work there deserve more credit and kindness than they receive.

We represented Croatia.

bucharest chair
My placeholder in the Bucharest

One of my personal responsibilities is to be the spokesperson for our tribe. Wherever I go, I represent the whole team.

This year, we were asked to participate in three conferences – specifically, to make speeches about entrepreneurship in Croatia. Every one of these invitations was a humbling honor as it reflected all that we had achieved together.

But, for a recovering socially anxious cave-dweller to write and perform three speeches in front of rooms full of people staring at me, THIS. WAS. TOUGH.

As soon as I performed one, I had to start writing, refining, memorizing, practicing, and agonizing about another. IT. WAS. INCREDIBLE.

Each one built on the previous, until the final, and most important one of them all in which we, lil’ ol’ Expat in Croatia, got to represent Croatia abroad at an official diplomatic event.

This year, Croatia celebrated 30 years of diplomatic relations with many countries, one of which was Romania.

To recognize this milestone, a conference was held in October in Bucharest, which brought together diplomats, businesses, and non-profit organizations from both countries.

Our Content Manager Marija Tkalec and I hopped on a RyanAir flight and jetted off to Romania not just to represent Expat in Croatia, but most importantly – to represent the Republic of Croatia. The magnanimity rippled through us.

I was asked to speak about why people should do business in Croatia. It has been my favorite speech to write as well as perform to date.

The speech is in my uniquely-Sara prose – romantic and optimistic – inspired by our team, our audience, fellow entrepreneurs in Split and this country I love so much. Based on the reactions in the room, it seems clear we did Croatia proud.

You may watch the full speech as it was performed below – as well as the other two speeches from earlier in the year.

Croatia/Romania Bilateral Conference in Bucharest – October 2022

Work. Place. Culture. Conference in Dubrovnik – “How Croatia made me better at my job” – May 2022

Lifestyle Check-In: Women in Business – “The 4 types of entrepreneurs in Croatia” – March 2022

We expanded our network.

lawyers paklenica
Team building event at Paklenica National Park with Team Expat and our lawyer network – October 2022

Expat in Croatia strives to be as comprehensive as possible with our resources and consulting services. However, there are times when you need a licensed professional for tax or legal advice, translation, real estate or insurance.

Since 2018 when EIC made the switch from blog to business, we carefully and considerately built an expat-vetted network of licensed Croatian professionals in these fields to help you honorably and effectively with whatever you might need.

Our legal network is our crown jewel. This year, our network grew to 13 independent law practices around the country, who all work together to share knowledge and have collectively hired more than 10 Croatian citizens to support the clients we have sent them.

These lawyers not only help our clients, but they also help us to ensure we are providing the most accurate information possible. They became our collaborators and our friends. You can learn more about this network, how we built it as well as get an introduction here.

In addition, we vetted a second tax/accounting firm and added our first insurance agency. Click below for introductions to our vetted network of professionals.

We launched our first Women’s Month.

Womens Month Overview Twitter
Our 2022 Women’s Month Winners

We are all about community here at EIC, just like Croatia. In that vein, we are always looking for new opportunities to give back and lift up the community whenever possible.

As part of this goal, we launched our first-ever Women’s Month campaign in honor of International Women’s Day in March 2022.

The idea was simple…or so we thought. Let’s celebrate extraordinary female entrepreneurs from across Croatia. We’ll take nominations and have an independent panel select the winners.

We had absolutely no idea what we were getting into…and that was the best part.

We were overwhelmed by the outpouring of nominations across the country – tons of strong, creative women building unique businesses in ways only they could do. It can be so easy to only see the little world in our immediate vicinity. This project opened our eyes, and our audience’s eyes, to a more comprehensive Croatia.

Our panel selected 35 female-led businesses for recognition and promotion. Four of them took the top prize and were interviewed for this site. Their stories were enlightening, inspiring, sometimes heartbreaking and most definitely eye-opening.

Find all of our winners and the interviews here.

We’ve already kicked off Women’s Month 2023 and are taking nominations through the end of this year. Nominate yourself or an extraordinary lady here.

This year, we’ve opened it up to both entrepreneurs as well as any woman in a position of leadership in their company or community.

We can’t wait to see who you wish to shine light on.

That’s not all

This was merely just a taste of our year. There are so many more stories that deserve sharing. I’d like to say that you’ll see a part two coming to this post shortly, but that’s not a promise I can make.

At the beginning of this post, there is a photo of me that I took after finishing the Life on Mars Trail on island Pag this past July. I’m weary, dehydrated, in shock, sunburned, amazed and very smelly.

That is exactly how I feel about this year, and so does our tenacious team.

On Christmas eve, we all go on our first Croatian-style Christmas holidays – meaning it will last until January 6 (Three Kings). Boy, do we need it. We shot for the stars, and instead, catapulted into another galaxy.

It was exhausting, yet oh soooo, satisfying. We cannot wait to show you what we have in store for next year, which will be even bigger.

Thank YOU, from the bottom of our hearts for being here, for reading our posts, for chatting with us on social media, for dropping us notes just to say hi, for reading our newsletter and supporting all that we do. We would not be here without your love and kindness.

We wish all of you relaxing, kuhano vino-filled holidays and a tremendously happy and firework-speckled new year, from all of us at Expat in Croatia. XOXO

P.S. Follow our holiday adventures on Instagram

fqf teambuilding dec2022
Most of the EIC in Split for our bi-annual team-building event – December 2022 (From top left to right: Danielle, Mirela, Lorena, Marija, Andreja, Lucija, Sara)

Please note: Information provided by Expat in Croatia is only for the purposes of guidance. It does not constitute legal or financial advice in any form. Croatian laws and bureaucratic rules often change, and each personal case is individual, so different rules may apply. For legal advice, contact us to consult with a licensed Croatian lawyer. For financial advice, contact us to consult with a licensed Croatian tax advisor or accountant.

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