Andrea Kecić at the Puttin’ on the RITz Dinner
RIT campus in Rochester, April 2016

Air

Airplanes. You can't decide if you love them, or hate them more. To me, being on the airport means that I am going on a vacation, and am taking a break from all the dullness happening in my usual day. Which is good.

And plane ride itself is just magical. The pain in your ears when plane goes up and feeling in your stomach when its landing always gives me that extra push of adrenaline needed to survive any extra hour of the trip that’s ahead of me.

Just like that, both plane rides, toward Rochester and back from it, were quite enjoyable. Except for the parts they weren’t.

Thanks to the gods of airplanes, our plane from Frankfurt to JFK was half empty, so prof. Kužnin and myself could separate so that each had 2 seats, and enough leg space which is very important on a 7 hour long trip if you ask a 6’1 tall girl (aka me).

Food was inedible. On both rides. But, hey! What did I expect?

Ride back from Atlanta to Frankfurt, however, was something else. Just after we discussed how "no one goes from Atlanta to Frankfurt on a Sunday afternoon, mid-April” we were greeted by full plane. Luckily, we were seated on the exit seats, middle row. At least we thought we were lucky. We didn’t but reach a certain height and we started freezing because apparently "cold air was breaking through the door”. Excuse me? After few hours and me finally falling asleep our captain turned the plane around and informed us that we have a medical case on the plane and have to go back to Canada so the person could get proper medical assistance. This led to us being 3 hours late to Frankfurt. This led to us being late for our flight to Dubrovnik. This meant 6 extra hours in Frankfurt and getting to Dubrovnik via Zagreb.

All in all, air part of this trip was utterly exhausting, fun and unforgettable, all at once.

Earth

Even though I enjoy plane rides and being in the air, solid ground sounds as good, especially if you ask my mother. After finally getting to Rochester, safe and sound, I had to pinch myself just to be sure that yes, I am in fact in the United States of America, and no, I am not dreaming.

After murdered-by-jet-lag sleep it was time to visit the campus. Which is just… something else. Brick buildings all around, with each one looking like the one before, and unless you enter and see for which major it’s meant to, you have no idea where you are.

How does one even capture the campus? After my miserable fails for any decent photo, I decided to quit and enjoyed in the tour around the campus in which I was shown a few different buildings, students center, food corner and playgrounds for the American sports

 

When I say solid ground, I mean it literally and metaphorically. Metaphorical part is the people that I was so happy to see after so much time. Those were study abroad students from Dubrovnik: Sara, Niki and Ivan, and study abroad student from Rochester that was in Dubrovnik this Fall – Josh. All of them gave me an extra tour of the campus and brought me in to some student tips and tricks necessary for survival. All in all, they definitely contributed to the feeling of being welcomed and belonging to the campus and convinced me to study abroad in Spring semester 2017.

 

Water

Thank god I had some jars of sunshine in my suitcase from Dubrovnik so the weather in Rochester was nothing but perfect, which means no rain. As I am a person that does not function without the Sun, I didn’t even mind the low temperatures.

One of my days was dedicated to trip to Niagara Falls which was just… magical. All the words couldn’t explain it, so here are a few shots I took.

Also, all the props to wonderful Ms. Maureen Shannon, who put up with me for the entire day!
(She also told me that I am the first ever representative to go on a Maid of the Mist boat tour, and I hope I did Croatia proud with my photos).


Fire

The greatest part of the trip, without a doubt, and the reason I went to Rochester in the first place – annual Puttin’ on the RITz event, was overall an absolute fire.

 

From all the members of Executive Board, everyone else, to décor, food and atmosphere!

This year’s dinner marks the 30th anniversary of the event and it was organized in a different fashion than any other before. This year, the actual dinner was organized at the campus, in Henry’s, a classroom-restaurant.

Prior to the actual dinner there were few activities, including lunch with few alumni (together with this year’s honorary chair, Harvey Stern), faculty and students to which I was also invited. During lunch we discussed the road to success and all the pros and cons that come with it, which was as entertaining as useful.

After rushing from lunch to last-minute-preparation and after a lot of confusion of where to put me, I ended up being a greeter with my fellow Croatian – Katia. Even though we were kind of frozen, smile did not leave our faces and with company of our newly made friend Abdullah, we had a blast!

When all the guests arrived and were having fun, Katia and I rushed to prepare champagne, and Abdullah rushed to prepare for serving. After we helped other’s to clean the reception area we handed out guest books and before we knew it, the dinner was over. All it was left now was to set everything up for just another lecture in Henry’s and clean hospitality floor like nothing ever happened.

Now that was fun! That was finally time when everyone was relaxed because the stress part was over, and everything was set and reset quite quickly because, obviously, everyone wanted to get out of there.

In the middle of setting the classroom up, I was presented with a unique gift that will help me to never forget this extraordinary event and people I worked with! I made them all sign it, so when they all become rich and important I can sell it on eBay for an overpriced amount.

(p.s. I am very aware that Rochester is in NY, USA, I just had space that needed to be filled.)

Unfortunately, I couldn’t take pictures during the actual working time, so the following pictures are courtesy of prof. Milena Kužnin, and Montacristo Photography.



Acknowledgements

Thank you to the Professor Committee that chose me for this experience, you are the ones I owe the most!

Prof. Kužnin, prof. Šimundić and Ms. Maureen Shannon, thank you for all the assistance before/during/after the trip. I needed it more than I care to admit.

Thank you to my American Girls: Emma Siegel, Hailie King and Erin Dugan. You are the best, and see you sooner than you think!

And to my Croatian support squad – Sara Stanić and Katia Hudspeth. Thank you for showing me around, introducing me to new people, helping with the clothes crisis and so much more! I am forever in depth!

 

USA, I will see you next year! Until then, stay sunny and warm up a bit :)




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