…Which also apply to living in many other European, most likely though Eastern European, countries and cities.
When choosing my apartment in Zagreb back in November, I carefully considered all the different housing options, making sure I didn’t miss out on a great offer. “Where should I live? City center, closer to school (my university is a bit on the edge), modern part of town?” These and many other questions had been torturing – literally! – my mind for a very long time. Having weighed all the positives and negatives, I chose the very center – regardless of the fact that I have to make a 30-minute commute every morning. Oh man, was I right.
Public transportation in Zagreb is very efficient (because Europe!). The main way to get somewhere is by using lovely blue trams, which run through the whole city and have as many lines as NYC subway (if not more). A new one comes every 2 minutes during the day, and can take you literally from anywhere to anywhere. Buses are also a thing, but their schedule is less predictable – for trams, there’s a digital table stating which one is coming and how soon, on almost every stop. It is also very inexpensive – only 100 kuna, or 14.5 dollars, for unlimited rides on both trams and buses for a month 🙂
Now, because of the location of my apartment, I get to see much more of the city than people who live near the university. If you ask me about recommendations as to where to live while studying abroad – my advice is definitely the center. I might not have huge shopping malls and supermarkets walking out of the door. However, seeing the city at its finest every day, grabbing some fresh tomatoes and tuna from a city market on my walk home, and, above all, hearing the main cathedral’s bells is absolutely priceless.
Little everyday needs, like getting a haircut or repairing shoes, can also be fulfilled in the city – and I absolutely love the fact of it. Back in the States, as I can recall it, I had to drive to so many places to get something done – and here it can be accessed if not by feet, then by trams for sure.
Many European universities don’t have huge campuses and separated territory like American colleges do – and ZSEM is no different. I wouldn’t say it is integrated into the city, but definitely very easily accessible from it. It is located near the famous park called Maksimir, which I will be visiting much more often once spring break is over and the weather is better. Back to my idea of the campus being different from the U.S. one (namely Temple), here’s one example that might shock my American counterparts. In order to grab lunch during a break in between classes, me and my friends take a bus down to Kvaternikov trg (trg in Croatian is square), as there are no cafes (don’t even dream about lunch trucks!) around, besides a small take-out pizza place and a supermarket (you wouldn’t survive on pizza every day, would you?).
I truly feel myself a big part of Zagreb by now, and Zagreb is a part of me – it will always be. Reaching such a harmony with my new home has a lot to do with living in the heart of the city, with traveling around a lot (due to university needs and personal ones 😉 ), as well as with developing a routine. However monotonous and ‘not cool’ the word routine might sound, it is what truly distinguishes a travel destination from a place where one has actually lived. Only after spending a month here, making a habit of going to the same bakery for bread, the same lady on the market for oranges, I can say that the association of the phraze ‘new home’ isn’t just a buzz anymore – it has become a reality.