Today marks the end of the extended syllabi period. At my school here in Croatia, we just started classes at the time when my Temple peers were a month into their semester (I’ve never had this long of a winter break before!). Students get whole two weeks at their disposal to switch classes around and finalize schedules. As the most stressful period of my whole study abroad experience is over, classes are selected and registration at the police is done, I feel calmer than ever and ready to share my first two weeks of being in Zagreb.
The weekend before the school started (last days of January!) was absolutely amazing, again thanks to my Croatian friend Filip. On Friday, January 29th, I got to experience the classical European Museum Night held nationwide on that day in Croatia. Its date varies, but the main idea of it is, all the museums in the city are open the entire night for everyone to attend. No ticket charges apply – visitors of any age are welcome to come, for free. Many museums also prepare special events and exhibitions, more information about which can be found on both the museums’ websites and the general site of The Night of Museums. We have it in Russia, too – typically in the spring, due to horrible weather conditions of winter.
We went to the School Museum, which tells the story of Croatian primary/middle/high schools throughout time.
We also went to Musej Mimara, which is a huge art gallery in the very heart of the city, lower town (Donji Grad); to the national archive and to the technological museum (its second name is – museum of Nicola Tesla). Many of you might know Tesla for his contributions to the modern electricity supply system; however, not many know that he was of Serbian origin, born in the lands of modern day Croatia. Serbians and Croatians always debate about ‘whose’ scientist he was, and each country has a museum named after him in the capital’s center. If you only knew how funny it is to watch this ongoing debate from the sidelines 🙂
The first day on campus was very sunny and warm – full of smiles, meeting other exchange and Croatian students, eating delicious food prepared for our orientation lunch and (surprisingly!) just the right amount of information, which left us with energy to socialize and pay full attention to the city tour in the afternoon.
The rest of the week wasn’t as smooth and easy though – oh that good old Croatian bureaucracy. Upon arrival, all foreign students must obtain an OIB (osobni identifikacijski broj – something like a social security number), as well as register and get an ID. All of this requires a lot of document collection, and several visits to the main police station/registration office. I waited for 2 hours once, only because the office ladies were having tea with some cake – too tired to deal with foreigners any longer. Tea time is sacred time for eastern European ladies of a certain age. As I stayed positive about everything in general, I exchanged a few jokes with my friends, handed in all the required documents and left. It is not that bad however, I must assure you – in other countries, namely Russia, wait time can round up to much longer due to ridiculous reasons.
Around February 5-9th every year, Italians have their traditional, world famous carnival in Venice and, wouldn’t you know it, Croatians are good at keeping up. They have a carnival in Rijeka, a town on the Adriatic coast. Many of the Erasmus students here in Zagreb went to Venice, a handful to Rijeka. As I didn’t feel like leaving Croatia yet (this is my study abroad destination, right? Not Italy!), nor even Zagreb this soon, we went to a small festive event for kids called Fašnik in Samobor, only 20 minutes away from Zagreb. Little kids in jedai and ninja turtle costumes – you have my heart.