Lately I’ve been pondering when it was that I fell in love with Croatia. I’ve been desperately trying to recall at which moment that switch got flipped, when my heart and brain decided that this was the place I was destined to live out my days.
I gotta say, it’s unclear.
While I’ve never been good at keeping a diary, for some reason I’ve been semi-consistent with publishing my internal thoughts on the internet for the world to see, first with my food blog from the time Before Croatia (B.C.) and the time after with Expat in Croatia. These two sites serve as a personal reminder of where I’ve been and what I was thinking at the time.
Sure, the original intent was for people other than myself to read them, but when it comes to blogging you just never know if anyone will be interested in your brain dribblings. A recent epiphany made me realize that they both were birthed from the same inspiration. With both, I had just moved to a new country and wanted to share what I’d learned while also having a drive to help others.
With the food blog, I’d just moved to Amsterdam and wanted to teach people simple cooking methods while also making uneducated observations about Dutch culture and life. With EIC, I’d just moved to Croatia and wanted to share my experiences and provide bureaucratic guidance for others. I never really recognized the parallels between the two until now.
On July 7, 2013, I published my first post as Expat in Croatia. All it contained was a collection of sunset shots from Split. That is how it all began.
I didn’t really know where I was going with the site. My understanding of Croatia was still in prepubescent virgin territory. My only certainty was that I wanted to share Croatia with others.
In anticipation of the site’s 7th birthday, I did a deep dive into old posts to see exactly what I was writing about in 2013. Surely, it was a bunch of garbage, I thought. I’d only been in Croatia for a little over a year at that point, what could I possibly know.
Turns out I was pretty prolific just in the first 5 months. 39 posts were published! What is even cooler is that many of the posts published in the first year are some of the most visited ones on the site today including a guide covering all visa and residence options, how to visit Klis Fortress, how to get an OIB, why you must have health insurance, and Zagreb’s public transit system.
Of course, they’ve been edited over and over again as I learned new things and information has changed so none of them are in their original state. But, I still find it pretty neat to know they’ve had such longevity.
Turns out, a few of my favorite posts of all time were published in the first year too! Specifically the one I wrote after experiencing the pure magic that is the 12-hour risotto of Skradin and this piece about the kindness of strangers, which still holds true today.
In re-reading the latter published just 15 months after arriving, it sounds to me like I already knew that Croatia was the place for me. I’d already been seduced by the community around me and intoxicated by its generosity.
At this point in this post, you might think “why don’t you remember better? Were you constantly high?” Naw man, I wish. My memory is fuzzy because my first few years in Croatia were unfortunately marred by some extreme personal challenges. I suffered abuse at the hands of the person who accompanied me to this country. When you’re going through something like that, it can be hard to cement good memories.
That experience may contribute to my sugar-coated view of Croatian bureaucracy. Once you’ve been through that kind of hell, dealing with MUP doesn’t seem so bad.
I stayed too long in that situation for many reasons, but the biggest reason was that I thought I’d have to leave Croatia if we parted. Once I got distance and the cracks in my alternate reality started to open, I realized that maybe I didn’t have to leave. Maybe I could stay in this place that I loved. Thankfully, Split MUP agreed.
While it’s clear now that Croatia stole my heart early on, this country also saved me. It helped me rebuild, helped shape the person I’ve become, made me realize what I do and do not deserve, introduced me to incredible people that are now family and led me to discover what I want out of this life. What I want is to continue to write and talk about Croatia all day and it seems like all of y’all whom have followed over the years agree.
EIC would not have made it to 7 years without all of you reading, commenting, emailing, liking, donating and sharing. I wouldn’t have been interviewed on Dobro Jutro Hrvatska had it not been for all of your support, ideas and encouragement.
Thank you thank you thank you fala lipa hvala puno for everyone who supports this project! I’m so glad you are here. 🙂
While I may have dipped in and out of this project over the years DUE TO LIFE, I’m in it for the long haul now. Having permanent residency and knowing Croatia can never kick me out certainly helps with my commitment.
Before signing off, I will ask you something I ask readers quite frequently: what do you want to see us talk about next? So many of the topics we’ve covered have come straight from our audience. If there is anything piquing your curiosity, let us know in the comments. There is nothing too mundane or procedural for us to cover. Remember tax stamps?
Lastly, I’d like to share our most popular posts (according to Google Analytics) as well as my favorite posts from the last 7 years.
Most popular: Krolo winery in Trilj (This was the place that made me fall in love with pašticada)
My favorite: The kindness of strangers
Most popular: How to find an English-speaking doctor
My favorite: 5 things I love about Split
Most popular: How to find an English-speaking doctor
My favorite: Best places to drink in Split (although this post doesn’t resemble the original in the slightest and also needs to be updated again now as one spot didn’t survive quarantine)
Most popular: ZET Zagreb Tram Map
My favorite: Eeeek! None.
Most popular: ZET Zagreb Tram Map (yep, again!)
My favorite: Do I need to open a bank account in Croatia?
Most popular: Promet – Split’s Bus System
My favorite: The most important lesson you need to learn about living in Croatia (and also my favorite post of all time)
Most popular: Tipping in Croatia
My favorite: 5 (kinda harsh) reasons to learn Croatian
Most popular: How to apply for citizenship in Croatia
My favorite: 8 ways Croatia has changed me in 8 years