A life shaping, four-year journey of a student at RIT Croatia: how I learned to welcome new experiences

 

May 4, 2020

In these challenging, life altering times, we stopped for a moment to especially listen to our graduating students. The generation of 2020 who was deprived of the feeling of closure in their last semester at RIT Croatia. For that reason, we posed a couple of questions to Pamina Benčić, a graduating student at the Hospitality and Tourism Management program in Dubrovnik, the valedictorian of the generation of 2020. Pamina, originally born and lived in Zagreb, decided to enroll at RIT Croatia because she believed this college would provide her with a good and broad foundation necessary for both her future career and life in general. She also liked the fact that studying here would help her master her knowledge of English and, in the end, that she would receive a dual degree, both American and Croatian. Moreover, she appreciated the fact that RIT Croatia’s programs are designed in a way that students have both general subjects such as sociology, philosophy and literature and also subjects related to the hospitality industry. Another benefit would be that there are mandatory summer co-ops which provided her with a solid work experience and have prepared her to confidently face the world of employment once she graduates. On another note, Pamina points out that she really wanted to experience living by herself in another city and that is why she chose to study at Dubrovnik campus.


1. In couple of sentences describe your journey at RIT Croatia in the past four years and how did it shape you as a person both personally and professionally.

What RIT Croatia has taught me was to be adaptable, leave my comfort zone for the sake of acquiring new experiences and face new challenges with an open mind instead of hesitation. I also learned the importance of networking and having a supportive community around you in one’s pursuit of success. Also, I learned how to critically think, properly present myself and impose my skills to a prospective employer. As far as personal life is concerned, these four years have truly helped me to mature and adult. I would recommend going away for college to everyone.

2. What would you state as the biggest learning outcome from your studying at RIT Croatia?

My biggest take-away from this college, as I have mentioned above, would be to be adaptable, open-minded and confident in my abilities. These skills come in very handy, especially in a situation which we are facing now – a global pandemic.

3.  What was your reaction to this unexpected finishing semester where all your courses are online?

Honestly, I was very sad because this meant that I won’t be able to see my friends, professors and other staff members at RIT Croatia. This community has become like my extended family over these four years so I was feeling a bit down. Also, I was a bit anxious since I didn’t know how exactly our classes would be organized. Overall, I knew this was the best thing to do since we have a lot of international students and the priority was to take care of everyone’s wellbeing and to keep people safe.

 

4. What is your experience with online classes and what is your opinion of the overall logistics and communication from the college towards students in this time of COVID-19 pandemics?

I was positively surprised with how everything turned out in the end, how quickly and efficiently this switch to online studies was organized and how helpful, responsive and reassuring everyone has been. Besides the fact that I am not physically at college, I personally notice almost no difference when it comes to my studies.

5.  As a part of your last year in college at the HTM program, you have Senior project in your last semester. Being that it is a capstone of your entire education, can you shortly describe to readers what is actually Senior project, how the process was supposed to look like in normal conditions and how is it adapted to current online mode?

Senior project is the final research paper done by students in cooperation with their mentors; the capstone project, the final milestone that we need to pass in order to graduate. It is like a crown to our education at RIT Croatia, a cherry on top. Because we have switched to online mode of studies when we were already pretty close to the end of the semester, there was almost no difference in how it was done when comparing it to the regular way. Normally, besides individually seeing our mentors, we would have weekly senior project classes where we would learn about how to write a proper, formal research paper. After the switch, we’ve got all the necessary materials online and relied somewhat more on our mentors. I knew some people had challenges with collecting their research data for the paper, but they were quickly resolved. Since this project is mostly about independent student research and occasional consultations with mentors, everybody just went about their business as usual in my opinion.

 

6. You are a senior year student. What is your biggest regret with this last semester going online?

What I mostly feel sorry about is that I didn’t get the chance to experience my last semester to the fullest, to attend all the college events, hang out with my colleagues and professors and to say a proper goodbye to this formative life experience. I didn’t have this closure that I have hoped for so I feel sad and almost robbed.

 

7. As a senior student about to graduate from RIT Croatia, what is the message you would like to send to our potential students?

I would tell them the same thing our dean has told us in his welcoming speech when we first arrived at the college as freshmen – you miss 100% of the chances you don’t take. So be brave and welcome new experiences since every experience, whether good or bad, is a learning opportunity and a chance to develop and improve yourself.









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