Michelle's Croatian studying adventure has begun

Written by Michelle Rodriguez Stražičić

How did I end up studying in Croatia?If someone were to tell me a year ago that I would be studying in Croatia, I would think they're crazy. This change in my life is still a shock to me. I never expected to go this far from home. The original plan was to stay close to NYC, so I would have fewer expenses, but that all changed. My friend introduced RIT Croatia to me in my junior year of high school. I found it interesting that there was an American College in Croatia of that ranking because Rochester Institute of Technology is no ordinary college. After researching a about RIT in the States and looked at other options I had, RIT seemed to most fit me. What caught my attention was the option of studying International Hospitality and Service Management. The colleges I applied to did not have this exact major. Of course there were similar but not what I was looking for. The reason I wanted to study IHSM was because hospitality plays a large role in my life. Summers I would spend with my grandmother running the family business on Island Mljet, Croatia. At the bed & breakfast, interacting with tourists became more than just a job. It was no longer an obligation, but was the start to my future. I didn't want to study just anything but rather enjoy it. The more I read about the college, the more curious I was with their branch in Croatia. I told my parents I wanted to study in Croatia. At least the country was not completely alien to me. There was no need to kill myself over power points, pie charts and presentations to persuade my parents to go there, but it did take them some time to process it. I am the second child and the last to leave the house, so I could understand them being extra emotional. I contacted the enrollment office and in the summer after my junior year, I had my interview.

Adaptation was successful thanks to lovely people I've met

In November of senior year, I opened the computer to check my emails and there it was. Congratulations! Knowing I got accepted to college was a relief and soon enough senior year was over and my time to depart was just around the corner. I was afraid about everything, but I never showed it. Living alone for the first time, making new friends, adapting to a new lifestyle and mentality of people. Now after the first month, I can say that it was not scary at all. Since I have my own apartment I was afraid of sleeping in and being late so my class, so far it only happened once, but I wish I had my mom to shake me and pull me out of bed sometimes. People are friendly and I have a unique character that making new friends was no problem. After a month I even have my own "ekipa" or gang, which feel like I've known my entire life. Friends are so valuable to have especially when you are away from your family, but not when you have a mom like mine that calls every day about 10 times because she is bored and thinks that you have nothing better to.


Dubrovnik captivated me with its beauty

The city is also my friend. Dubrovnik is a beautiful and enchanting city to study in. It is a very laid-back city, which was kind difficult for me at first. Coming from NYC where time really flies but you still got 24hrs in the day, Dubrovnik feels as if there is only 12hrs in the day. I still walk like a crazy New Yorker and that will never leave me. I love it when people ask me, "How do you get around Dubrovnik? Is it hard?" I laugh because Dubrovnik feels like just one of the villages in NY. When I was applying for college, I did not want to go to a huge campus. I wanted the teacher to know me name and meet everyone in my graduating class. RIT Croatia gives off a family vibe. We might fight sometimes, but really we love one another and deal with each other. Honestly this change was one of the best choices I ever made and never will regret this experience. What will come for me in the future is still a question to me. I never plan but what I can say having a required Co-op at the end of each year helps expand my options. One month down, eight to go.



RIT Croatia. Different from Day 1.

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