We may earn commission from affiliate links →
11 Struggles Of Being An Expat In Croatia After 2 Years
It has been a life-changing 24 months since I moved to Croatia. The anniversary date actually came and went without any fanfare.
I only just realized this week when someone asked me how long I had been living in Croatia.
Life abroad is fun.
Life abroad is scary.
Life abroad is rewarding.
Life abroad is crazy.
Living abroad is what you make of it.
It’s cliche (and you all know how much I love a cliche), but heck, it’s damn true.
When you make the ballsy-ass move and leave everyone you know, everything that is comfortable, understood, and day-to-day behind and throw caution to the wind and move to Croatia, there is stuff you can’t know until you’re ‘living the dream.’
What that stuff is can be different for everyone, but read any expat blog, and you pick up re-occurring themes of loneliness, adjustment periods, and exploration.
Struggles Of My Expat Life
1. I Am Always The Freak
I knew people would ask me why I moved to Croatia and if I missed home. I just never in a million years would have thought that even after two years of living in Croatia, people would still ask me ‘why’ over and over.
It gets exhausting.
Really, why can’t people ask me about who I am, what I love, and who I want to be?
Instead, whenever I meet new people, I spend far too long
justifying explaining my move. Then, after a prolonged explanation attempting to prove that I am not totally and utterly insane, I am exhausted and can’t always be bothered with the small talk.
Recently I was introduced to someone; the very first thing that she said, was why do you want to live here? With a real emphasis on here.
Sick of hearing that same statement or variations of it, and so annoyed that she did not even say hello, or give me a chance to ask her what her name was, I snapped and responded in a snarky tone ‘because ‘I am insane, that’s why!
It was the straw that broke this donkey’s back!
It makes me feel like a freak. I’ve become so self-conscious about it. I guess the other contributing factor is here in Croatia; the economic situation has not been so good for an extended period of time which means that more people are leaving Croatia than there are fewer freaks people like me moving here, so I try to tell myself it’s not personal.
I really hope that it’s not personal. It’s something that I am still trying to understand.
2. I Can’t Speak
I used to be funny.
No, really, I used to be able to make people laugh. Now I can just safely string enough sentences together to hold a conversation with the lady at the supermarket to fool her into thinking I understand 100% of what she is saying. But it’s not enough.
I can’t express myself. I have family that helps me often, particularly the Aunt and Uncle we live with while our house is being built – and I loathe how I can’t show my sincere gratitude in more ways than saying hvala (thanks) or hvala puno (thanks a lot).
I want to say warm and fuzzy things like thank you so very much for always being there for me; it means the world to me. Instead, I give big hugs and say hvala puno.
The other suffocating factor of not speaking the language is in the playground. The Little Donkey and I spend a lot of time at parks and playgrounds, and I wish with all my heart that I was able to spark up small talk with the other Mums.
If I could, maybe I’d have more friends (or perhaps not). Instead, I smile awkwardly and whip out my phone or walk over and pretend to help the Little Donkey. So lame, I know.
3. A Daily Game Of Charades
You know how the game of charades goes: you hold up two fingers, everyone shouts back two words. You open and close your hands, and immediately everyone knows you’re talking about a book.
Then you begin waving your hands about and flailing your body in different directions in order to get everyone to guess the two words in your book title.
Now, imagine that daily. Only this time, you’re allowed to use words (well, just the few you know in Croatian), and instead of just two words, you need to come up with a whole story.
Sound like fun?
Daily, I find myself trying to communicate with my 70-year-old landlords. They know a few English words, most of which they learned from spending so much time with the Little Donkey. It goes like this:
I say a few Croatian words to make a sentence no better than my two-year-old forms; then I get stuck. I don’t have the word I need. So, I wave my arms about and play a game of charades and hope they know what I am talking about.
So they say a few words, trying to help me and return the arm waving and wait for me to understand.
I whip out my iPhone and type into Google Translate the one missing word in the conversation.
Sometimes it works, other times it all fails, and we smile an awkward smile and shrug it off.
4. I Miss My Friends More Than I Ever Could Imagine
Suppose you’ve been away from all of your friends for a long time, you know exactly what I mean. If you have not, you might be like me and think you’ll do fine without them.
Missing my friends was not high on my worry list before I moved. Yeah, I knew I’d miss them. But not this much.
5. Family Means More To Me Than Ever Before
Sometimes being an expat in Croatia, it’s an utter nightmare. For me, my nightmare is not having our family around. I feel guilty about my son not having his Aunts and Uncles around to play with him.
I feel sad that his Grandparents don’t get to witness his firsts and spoil him like they’re supposed to.
That said, I’m grateful to what family and friends we do have here; you all know who you are.
6. I Can’t Accept Help
Now that I have a few great friends who have made this journey so beautiful, I can’t lose them. They mean so much to me. So, when they offer help, I cringe. I don’t want to be a pain. I don’t want them to think I am using them or taking advantage of their kindness, so instead, I rarely accept help.
Asking for help has to be the absolute last straw-like when I ended up in the emergency room, Mr. Chasing the Donkey was not in town, and I needed clothes.
I texted my dear friend for help. As soon as I clicked send, I hated myself. I hated that I was unable to find a solution on my own. She came to the rescue and was glad to help, but I don’t want to ask again for help anytime soon.
7. Going Home Was Not Fun
I went back home to Australia at Christmas time. It wasn’t as impressive as you would think.
I felt like it was not home anymore. I missed my life in Croatia. And, I was still a freak. People were again asking me if we planned to stay away or when we planned to come home.
Then there was the awkwardness, I felt like I have changed, and I struggled to connect in the same way I had done just 18-months earlier. I loved seeing everyone, and I want them to come here now as I am not planning or even looking forward to going back anytime soon.
8. I Miss The News
Real news, not the pop-culture rubbish I can watch on E! Entertainment. I’m talking real news about politics, policies, and all that jazz.
There is a great site we love to read that has news about Croatia in English; the only downside is it lacks nitty-gritty details about politics – and everyooooooooone here knows something about politics. Even teenage boys. I am so clueless, and google translate just does not cut the mustard.
9. My Blog Is My Saviour
Without my blog, I’d probably be super depressed. I left a super-busy-super-creative job to have a baby. I then took that tiny baby and moved to a small village.
And, while walks along the beach and traipsing about the olive grove is all kinds of fun that I can’t live without – when the Little Donkey sleeps, or on those rainy days, I need my blog. I did it at first because I liked it, and now I blog because I NEED IT.
My travel blog provides both a creative outlet for me and will soon be turning into a series of new business adventures that will hopefully pay the bills.
So thanks, thanks for being a part of my sanity for the past two years.
10. Pictures On Facebook Make Me Cry
Weddings, christenings, birthdays, heck, just photos of your girls’ night out cuts me up. Deep. I want to be in those photos. I want to be the one holding my newborn nephew, not seeing some third cousin oohing and ahhing over him on my newsfeed. *wipes the tears*
11. I Miss Shopping
Online shopping. Click, click, credit card, click. Hello, brown package in the mail.
addicted a regular user of internet shopping when I lived in Australia. I had everything delivered from the groceries to handmade baby clothes and everything in between.
Now, not so much. Now, so many places don’t even have Croatia on their approved shipping list – including far-too-many items in Amazon that I want but can’t have. Not precisely a struggle as the title would suggest, more of a massive-pain-in-the-ass.
All That Whinging Aside – I Would Not Change Any Of It
Don’t hate me for saying this, but as much as I feel like a freak and that I can’t speak, I’m still proud of myself.
Because I never thought about just how hard so many things would be, and I have not (yet) given up. Had I been given a crystal ball and seen just how difficult life would be in a foreign land, I may not have moved.
After 24 months of having periods feeling alone and sad, which is more than I ever have in my whole life combined (which includes being a reject all through high school), I have learned a lot about myself and what I want from life.
I love what we are shaping here and am very excited about our new business ideas and our life in Croatia.
Have you ever been an expat in Croatia or someplace else? What struggles did you face – and did they go away?
Hi. I have enjoyed exploring your blog. It is clear that you enjoy doing it, I understand. May I comment on Number 6 from the article above, regarding asking for help. I think people want to help, like to help, and perhaps you could become closer by accepting their offers. Cheers – Rusty
Reading this as Im sat at the end of a day that I have found particularly hard as an expat of 2 years in Norway. So comforting to hear my feelings reflected here and feeling less alone tonight as a consequence. The struggle is real and not being close to my family is also a huge deal for me.
So thank you for sharing what you did in this post it has bought comfort and hope to me anyway.
Wishing you all the best
You’re so welcome – if you’re like me – it gets waaaaaay easier as you go.
Love this post and relate to absolutely everything you wrote. I know this was written a while ago, but it was nice to read and remember some of the struggles, kinda as a – wow, look how far I’ve (we’ve?) come. Though the language is still a struggle and I still can’t quite express my personality either, but getting there. Looking forward to sharing my 5-year version soon. And, Oh how I love this new look blog, so clean and easy to navigate. Svaka čast draga, you are a true inspiration!
Thanks Tash, when I read it back, I am being so dishonest. It was much worse, but back then I was scared of failure to write about the tears and the feelings of wanting to run away. But, hell yeah, so glad I stayed. Can’t wait to read your 5-year journey!
Absolutely love, love, love this post! While relative to life as an expat it is also a similie to life reflection and positive changes the universe has aligned to promote growth and build character for the next phase of life……which I totally relate to:) Thanks so much for sharing so candidly! Sending positive vibrations, love and hugs your way:D
I am sure you have heard of Al Jazeera Balkans, but perhaps the best source of news in my opinion is Balkan insight, they cover politics, have you heard of it? If not, perhaps you would like it, it’s very informative and you can select and read only from the Croatia category. I hope the feeling of being proud of youself outweighs the negative sides of adjusting to living here, I would say welcome, but by now you are a local and I hope you feel like it
Such an amazing blog! I myself come from Lithuania, am married to a polish guy and we live in Denmark, where we met as axchange students a little bit more than 8 years ago.
I can so relate to your blog, it is just incredible, that it makes me feel less of a creep actually. I have a couple of close friends (all of them are expats too) here, in Denmark, and I also take thrm for granted, would never ever want to loose them…
Thinking of friends back home in Lithuania and family gatherings I have missed, my grandpa’s birthday I could not attend – all of those things bring tears to my eyes and even after relatively long time of living abroad I feel like a weirdo anyway (don’t mean to scare you off).
Recently with my husband we had a talk and we are still trying to “put sll pieces of the puzzle together” regarding what we want from our lives and where we want to be.
In our case it would be rather tough going back to one of ours home countries because of the language, my husband does not feel welcomed here and struggles with depressive thoughts. I am learning the language (my husband isn’t) and it makes me angry because during these years I, myself, have put a lot of effort into integrating here and language is number one to me. However, knowing that my partner does not feel happy and most probably we will end up moving somewhere else, makes me desperate and furious, and scared. Thr thought of starting all over again in a new place actually makes me sick… but i do not frel entirely happy here either. 8 believe that at some point I simply accepted the situation and was ready convincing myself we will settle here. I would not really like to move to another place (not English speaking country) and lesrn yet another language, try to integrate and know that it mighht not be the ideal place for us there too. So tough sometimes…
The mosy touching part of your blog was about seeing your friends and family pictures on instragram… i literally got reminded of that same feeling and simply wanted to cry. I have been there SO many times.
It is silly, but if only i could turn back time, i would not have I wish I would have left my hime country only for a year or so travelling – trat’s all….
Hope things fall to their places in your life and you will find happiness living in Croatia. Feel free getting in touch with me over my e-mail if you’d like (i believe you are able to see it). Sometimes it is so important to share those feelings with somebody, who has gone through similar stuff in their lives.
Best of luck and warmest wishes from me, Ieva 🙂
SJ, I would sure appreciate hearing about the education system in Croatia. My daughter is in 6th grade (11 years old) in the states and we’re thinking of moving to Croatia in two years. Any advice or comments? Thank you!
Well, the language learning is not ease if you are only speak one language but it is possible …
I will give you simple advise , try to write down 10 word keep
writing them until some you remember some erase those , and add more , keep doing it at knowing 1500-2000 words you will be able to communicate sun or later it is up TO YOU
Great read for me. We are Canadians but living in melbourne and I can so relate to so much of this article. We lived in Malaysia for a bit and for some reason that was easier because I had an instant expat network whereas here in Australia I am just normal. With all the moving between Canada and overseas I am totally lost about what I want. I miss home, my friends, our house, but I love living in a different country, the travel and opening our kids’ eyes to the world. I don’t know what I want but it is nice to read something I can relate to.
Seems we all love and hate it at the same time huh!? Hugs from one struggling expat to another.
Hey there. Why do you live THERE? Just kidding, totally. I married a Croatian and we have two littles and live in the States for now, but I often fantasize about doing what you’ve done. Just ripping the band-aid and moving THERE. My situation would be somewhat different as I have my in-laws there and a couple of friends that I inherited from my husband. I don’t know normally read blogs, but I saw your title, read it and you NAILED it. All of my fears of moving there. You described all three of my vacations to Dubrovnik perfectly. My in-laws are in their 70s and we stay with them in their home every time we visit. Three weeks of loneliness and charades, yes!! So many attempts at Google translate, so many miscommunications. And so much sadness that our children are not bilingual in the least, so they don’t have a TRUE relationship with Baba i Djede. *sigh* which is precisely why I want to do it. Of course our oldest is in elementary school now, so I don’t even know if it’s possible any more because she doesn’t speak the language. My God, how terrifying would it be to be thrown into a classroom full of people who don’t understand you.
Oh, and the online shopping, too funny. That was one of my biggest fears too. Realizing that I would probably not be able to order things online any more.
Well, I just wanted to say thanks for sharing your experiences and I wish you all the best in your journey!! (Happy belated Mother’s Day)
Dear SJ, I am so glad I came across your blog. I am kinda soul searching myself at the moment. I am Croatian born living in Australia in a relationship with an aussie and I understand the emotional side of your experiences. Being uprooted and placed to the other side of the world to another era, all by choice of course, but that does not make it easier at times. I appreciate your honesty and I understand your struggles with the croatian system, people, businesses, deliveries or the lack of there of. ( I tried delivering some basic breastfeeding accessories 2 years ago when I had my baby and went back for a holidy to be told that they do not deliver to that region !!!). I am a little surprised at the lack of positive experiences on your blog, other than travelling around Croatia and taking beautiful snaps.I hope that you are able to balance the frustrations with the positive experiences for your own sake. I am interested in how you made the decision to go over, what was the tipping point for making such a drastic change. I am asking because my family (aussie parter and a 3 yearl old) are thinking about making that leap. I am struggling with making the decision to give it a go and feel that a lot of that is on my shoulders given it is my birth country. Anyway, you may not be interested in communicating with me so I will keep it short. I wish you all the best, I hope you life and exeperiences in Croatia become better and are whatever you desire them to be. Take care – Ivana
Sorry, no rainbows and unicorns here from me. I am sorry that you can’t read about positive experiences on my blog – they happen so infrequently and are really not worth writing about, that is other than all my travel. My blog is a travel blog, so that is where I focus my time, besides the few expat posts I write or about my house – which I also stopped.
We wanted a lifestyle change – which we got.
If I am honest it will all be on your shoulders – there are so many hoops to jump, even for the simplest of everyday things, and you’ll need to use your language (unless hubby speaks fluently) skills and your family connections to get things done. There are some great Facebook groups with people who can offer ideas and other opinions to help you decide if the move is right for you – everyone has a different story to tell, and you may find someone with better experiences to encourage you. Wishing you and your family well in whatever you decide.
My husband is a pilot and got offered a job with European Coastal Airlines and we are trying to figure out if this is a move that we want to make. We had previously lived in the Maldives and mostly have concerns about the environment there – biggest questions for you (as a person living there now) would be:
1. Are the beaches fairly clean? In Male there was trash EVERYWHERE – it was disgusting and made you not even want to enter the water because the sewage systems exited about less than a half mile off shore, and people would throw dirty diapers and waste into the ocean or leave on the beach.
2. I would be coming with a newborn and a 2 year old – is there enough stuff to keep your young one busy – like playgrounds, museums with interactive things (I know that may be pushing it), and gyms? I would really like to get him into classes for something – be it swimming, karate, gymnastics… but I know only so much is possible.
My biggest concerns is bringing my kids there and not going crazy. I can do anything on my own and make the most of it – but I don’t want my toddler to be without stimulation. I sound totally hoity-toity right now, and truly I’m not – I just wanted to see what you thought about these things because it seems like you have a real, rational perspective about the expat life and the challenges it brings.
Congrats that a great company! To answer you
1. Totally clean. Don’t worry about that.
2. Playgrounds yes. Indoor centres are not so popular like you might expect. You should find out where you’ll be based, it will make a big difference – in Zadar when I am we have just one small place inside a shopping centre. It’s okay, but kids get bored easy as it’s not big enough. There is another indoor place you can hire for parties, it’s excellent but sadly they are not open all day for drop-ins.
Kids activities in my area all start at 4 years old. Not much for your 2-year old I am afraid. Again, maybe that’s different in Zagreb?
My kid loves being outdoors – we play outside a lot, and walk along the beach. But, on rainy days you’ll be stuck indoors a lot. Make friends and take turns holding play dates to keep you busy 😀 Best of luck.
So true, everything you write about is how I am feeling too. Keep it up, don’t stop, your comments are very truthful and honest. I am now approaching my 12th month anniversary. Am currently located in Zagreb and would love to meet with you and chat about our experiences. I can say that my honeymoon state has passed, and am now facing the true reality of our huge move, am feeling unmotivated, I did have plans to write a blog also, but have lost my mojo. I have two kids in school, and am constantly facing personal struggles and at times accomplishments. My biggest hate at the moment is the famous question ‘why would you come here to live – you’re from AUSTRALIA’ ……………… M from Sydney
Ahh yes, I know that question all too well. Hugs from someone who understands.
PS: find me on facebook and lets connect 😀
Sorry to hijack your comment Michelle! I am also an Aussie living in Croatia but have only been here 3 months. Is it bad I can already relate to all that you have both said? Lol. I’m a mum of 3, 2 are in vrtic and the youngest is just learning to walk. My Husband is and speaks Hrvatski but not me. I am so damn lonely. I have my in-laws here which is something. I’m not great at making new friends, mine have mostly been my Hubby’s mates wives. Messaged someone recently for a coffee and I was as nervous as if I was asking her on a date lol. I’m on Brac, so not near you. But if you want to chat on messenger we can be digital friends? 🙂
I’ll be in Zagreb on Tuesday for about a week to visit family, get my citizenship and to buy land to start building a house. I’m going to be building a house in the Stubicka Toplice area, does anyone have any recommendations on building a house, i.e. builder etc, what to watch out for?
Also, While I’m very excited I’m also very nervous with the amount of refugees flooding into Europe. Doesn’t seem like Croatia is a destination for them but does the country have a plan in case they start coming?
So sorry about all the hateful comments you received. I identified with nearly all of those (except #11 because let me just say thank GOD for amazon.de!). Expat life is not easy and very few understand it. Hugs, friend, and keep your chin up. 🙂
This is your life, and you chose adventure and experience. You are a woman of courage a cut above the rest.
Tears of the good kind flowed from all of these beautiful messages. BEYOND grateful to have such caring people following this page. Bless you all xxxxxx
All go0o0d pe0ple have 2 stick 2gether
And bless you and your family too xx
you bloody earn it !
And these are the people’s opinions who matter. Onwards and upwards. Those donkeys aren’t going to chase themselves
Don’t bother with people who are haters, jerks…it is of no matter what they think or write… they are angry at themselves and it has nothing to do with you. I think your blog is awesome, I never even think about why are you living here. .. be yourself and happy and healthy 🙂
I totally enjoyed reading your blog. I’m a NZer with Croatian parents. I speak broken Croatian also. I took my husband and 3 kids to Croatia for 6 weeks back in 2009, which was a mission as I was the only one out of 5 of us that understood anything. I always had dreamt of going back to live there for some time and after reading your blog I could imagine myself being in the same type of situation as you are, but probably worse. Don’t worry about the negative things people have to say. Really you have to try and see the light side of things. Keep doing what you are doing for yourself and your family, not to please anyone else. Just keep up the good work and writing!
SJ you won’t believe how you will change in another 3-5 years. I’ve been in Italy for almost 8 years (or maybe almost 9…I’ve stopped counting!) and everything you wrote was me after 24 months here. It changes. I will suggest that you need to make mire of an effort to learn Croatian, that will be the gamechanger. I did classes in the evenings and podcast lessaons (want me to see if I can find a podcast for you?) and STUDY STUDY STUDY!!! I worked here so that was a big help (also a nightmare), but once you can express yourself in Croatian everything changes. I see those moms at the park… The ones who can’t carry on a conversation to save their lives, and I feel sorry for them because someone would love to be their friend !! Do you want me to send you a link to a post I wrote about this? The sooner you learn, the better things will get… Actually , you’ll start pregerring Croatian words over English because you’ll see that you can express yourself better!!
Hi Angie – I feel really inspired by your post. I have been here in Croatia on and off for four years now and I really need a kick up the backside in terms of learning the language. I still work remotely for UK companies so I don’t have the same urgency you obviously had. If you can recommend a podcast I would really appreciate it 🙂 TIA
Ustraj, SJ. Ja sam privremen australski expat koji je sada u Zagrebu, i po mom mišljenju Hrvatska je zemlja od budućnosti. Vidim vrlo pametne ljude, fantastičnu kulturu, energiju, poduzetničku kulturu, odličnu prijevoznu sustavu, i mnogo više. Što je više, dan po dan sviđa mi se sve manje zemlja što postoji Australija. Prema mojem iskustvu, bez sumnje kljuć je jezik. Preporučim tebi Mateja Horvat (Cosmis Learning Croatian). Ona me je prethodne dvije godine naučila hrvatski putem Skype-a samo dva puta tjednom a iako da sam star i imam betonski mozak, sada mogu razgovarati s nekome (ikome?) u Zagrebu (Koji tramvaj ide na autobusni kolodvor? Želio bi rezervirati autobusnu kartu od Zagreba do Splita, molim Vas. Večeras sam bio u restoranu blizu Trga Bana Jelačića kad svijetla su ugasila, i zbog toga imao sam lijep razgovor sa vlasnikom. itd). Prvi put kad prodavačica ne pita ‘Odakle ste?’ je triumf i daje povjerenje za iduči put. Koristim trick. Pričam ljudi da sam Danac tako da oni ne pokušavaju govoriti engleski sa mnom zato što govorim samo danski i malo hrvatskog. Dobro radi! Osim taj put kad druga osoba isto je bila danac ….. Siguran sam da ovaj tekst ti pokazi da još uvijek napišem pidgin hrvatski, pa nadam se da ga Mateja ne pročita. Ona je wizz. Zbog nje, ne brinem prići ikome u Zagrebu kako bih mu postavio pitanje. Sada večina ljudi odgovaraju na hrvatski bez oklijevanja, no vjerojatno oni misle da sam iz dakle nego black stump. Na kraju, mogu ti poslati stakleno Vegemitea sada i tada ako želiš?
I’m very sorry you received hate mails. I just don’t see what’s in that article that can trigger it. It is unbelievable that there are people who can find material for hate in everything.
I just want to say…. you ARE enough. In whatever capacity you can show up in a day…you are enough. ♡♡♡
Well done on so many levels. Great article!
I love your posts and look forward to reading them. Our people can be very ignorant, but they are also very loving and hospitable. You are do lucky to be living in Croatia. Don’t let a few ignorant and jealous people ruin the beautiful life you are making. Your posts help us keep connected to home.
There are times when I’m swimming in the Adriatic and the waves get strong enough that I lose my breath and my stomach muscles become exhausted. I get the strong feeling that I’m probably not making it back to land and then I find a buoy to rest on.
It’s clear from reading all of these comments that YOU are that buoy for a lot of people. You say what a lot of people cannot express. I don’t think I’m alone in saying that your blog is of tremendous value to a lot of people. I shudder to think that few can ruin such a valuable resource for the so many.
I recently relocated from the US back to the country of my birth. Unfortunately, there are too many narrow minded people in Croatia who are so jealous of what the Croatian diaspora has accomplished. Where would Croatia be without the investment and money that we spend and send here. Be strong and continue with your blog, don’t let anyone push you down.
From my point of view … you are VERY STRONG – and I believe, that you will be that way. And you’ll be even stronger, when you ask your “new” friends for help – I think, there’s nothing they would rather do! (y)
It makes me angry when “foreigners” get treated like crap in Croatia. You are contributing to their economy, your blog is promoting tourism in Croatia. Croatian tourists are the lifeblood of the Croatian people. Even the Croatian President wants to engage with Croatians abroad and encourage them to return to Croatia- she’s going to have a tough time doing that when you look at the attitudes of some Croatians. I have Dual Citizenship- Aussie and Cro and would one day love to do what you have done- or at least be there during the tourist season and contribute in some way. My parents, who left Croatia 46 years ago still feel like freaks both here in Oz and in Cro. People here still think of them as “wogs” first and foremost. People in Croatia think of them as deserters. You can’t win, can you? 😉
You seriously think foreigners get treated like crap in Croatia? Have you even visited the country?
This is simply not true. I think it’s hilarious how you expect moving to another country, having no idea about the culture or the language, not even trying to learn it and you get surprised that you cannot communicate with people? She’s been living in Croatia for 2 damn years and can’t yet speak the language?! Stop complaining about everything and learn the freaking language!
I’d love to see you move to a foreign country and learn a language fluently (in the way I described above) in 2 years. Do you live here? I can tell from the way you sound – no. Let me guess. Canada? UK…? Far, far away from this reality I bet.
You actually couldn’t be farther away from the reality. I was born in Croatia and lived there for 26 years. I then moved to Germany, finished my master’s degree, learnt the language fluently and found myself a well paid job. In 2 years time. So yes, I did move to a foreign country all on my own, can speak its language fluently and am fully integrated into the German society. Furthermore, my English skills are apparently well enough for you to think I was a native speaker. All of this wasn’t hard at all. Because I didn’t complain and got stuff done. But hey, that’s just me.
*round of huge applause*. I am super happy for you, even though you sound like a right (insert choice word here). I guess I am just too stupid to achieve your level of success. We all can’t be so intelligent. Best wishes from sunny Croatia.
SJ please ignore this girl. She is mean and wants you to feel bad. We all know you are trying to learn the language. But sadly this task in Croatia is very diffucult, as there are no formal schools for us foreigners. In Germany there are dedicated school for expats to learn – and they must by law so its very serious and well arranged for them. Here in Croatia we must pay teachers to do private lessons which cost us 1 days salary for each hour of a lesson. Its much harder and you cant compare.
Plus I am also told many Croatians learn German at school so this girl would have had some exposure to the language before and you did not I beleive.
You are not stupid, so dont say that and allow these nasty people to bother you anymore. Poz from Dubrovnik.
I can relate. I have been “that freak” all my life. After 20 years in France, I still get “oh wow, you speak English!” and I smile in reply while internally screaming “I’m Irish!!! Of course I speak English, it’s the French that’s unusual!”. But that would be rude. You can be very well adjusted and still not feel like a local, yet what you said is true: it changes you and when you go back, you still are a freak.
Great article! One thing you will realize there will be people who support you and then you have the “haters”. Haters are usually people who are jealous of what you are accomplishing and who you have become as a person. Relax! Enjoy your life and your family.
There is a saying- ” what or does not serve you, let it or them go”.
And, as far as asking for help, never be afraid to do so. Everyone needs help once in awhile and the best part of letting someone help you, is that it gives you a chance to repay them by helping them out too. Maybe they are like you and don’t like to ask, but deep down they need it. This give everyone a sense of knowing who your true friends are.
I just started reading your posts and enjoy them. So please, don’t stop them. You tell you a very passionate person and let some of the “haters” destroy that, well wold be wrong.
I too will be visiting Croatia in Sept. and will stay 3 months in Stari Grad to see if I like it and if I do, I will apply for Temporary Residents Visa. Like your friends, mine too think I’m crazy to do this. I’m selling everything and packing up and leaving because remember when I said “what doesn’t serve you, let it go” well that is exactly what I’m doing.
So after all this, I hope you remain true to yourself and your family and by doing that, you will live a rich and fulfilled life.
I can’t wait to come and visit you one day! !☺☺
SJ, you’re awesome. Don’t listen to the naysayers and just plain mean assholes of the world. You’re an incredibly strong person and I love your blog! It inspires me.
You can’t let the ignorant people hold you back. I say that but they also hold me back…so many things I would like to write and say but just don’t. However, your post is beautiful, true and amazing and every point except maybe 2 ring true with me from my time living as an expat abroad. Keep sharing the personal because the ones who need to hear are the ones who need to hear.Beth, wisemommies
Nemoj slušat nikoga ako nema nešto lijepo reći..svijet je pun mržnje danas..svako ima nešto reči na sve a nikad ili nekad nije ništa lijepo..ja živim u Austaliji I ponekad je teško da me niko nerazumje nego naš narod a ima I puno dobrih strani ljudi isto..šta se može uvijek če se nači bezobraznih ljudi..smi se I budi vesel/a
We love your work. Xx
I have been there and my advice for every negative comment know there’s 5 that than you and love you for the honesty. People easily post nastiness but those who are helped often don’t. Of course you have to decide what’s right for you, and trust me I’ve been exactly in your shoes but f*** them. Seriously. Own your truth c
I love your blog & it’s a good reminder that it’s not always so rosy to choose to live back in ‘the homeland’. Forget the few negative voices, so pessimistic about such a beautiful place. Don’t let haters be the winners!
I am proud Australian born of croatian hertiage. I met my husband in zagreb, married and subsequently move back to oz. SJ i applaude you for your courage, strength, gumption and individuality, for doing something i could have not even attempted in my wildest dreams, (to live a life in beautiful croatia) you have are alot of cards stacked against you, both personal, economic, but still you persevere. Dont let a few ignorant, jealous people rain on your parade! to move countries is a feat in iteself let alone a non english speaking as an adult is truely admirable.. At the end of the day you have a beautiful life and family. Your bloggs make me happy when i read them, and i can relate to them and enjoy hearing about your adventures, travels, and day to day life dramas and dilemmas. I hope to be joining you and living the life in beautiful croatia, in some years to enjoy retirement. Dont give up wipe away the tears,, hold your head up high SJ, your passion, courage will shine above your critics. God bless.
Loved the article. Don’t change x
if you wouldnt change any of it stop compromising to a bunch of ex jugs and stand tall and proud as an open person sharing your thoughts with Love to whoever is interested.. dont worry about the ones not interested for the wrong reasons.. for every arsehole there is a beaut person, but those are less remembered because stings are stings.. f. them 😀 Live (y) B Happy in Croatia <3 as Your Soul yearns!
Love your articles. As an Australian with Croatian parents it’s great to see your photos and comments.
Love, love, love your blog. Please keep it real and post freely.
Just wait and see how it feels to move back home after being an expat for 35 years. 🙂 I had the same struggles, then when returning home found I was an outsider. Thats behind us now, but it took years
Chin up and keep going, I haven’t been back since my honeymoon in 2000. Your blog has given me a new passion to head back next year with the whole family..
Haters will always try to knock a great thing down, don’t give them any satisfaction.
Be strong SJ. You are better than these idiots. Your blog brightens my day, your writing is heartfelt, honest and funny and I love hearing about your family and your renovations. Unfortunately the economic climate in Croatia has developed a lot of negative thinking to the point that those that try to make it are not supported in fact, even envied. Continue to do what you do and be who you are because you do it so well and make so many people happy xxx
Loved your article – so true. In the words of the Madagascar penguins, “smile and wave”
I’m a Croatian expat (well, diaspora actually, if we’re being honest) and i just read your facebook page how you’ve been getting hate mail about this post, so i had to go see what all the fuss is about. And, i have to say, i have no idea what all those people are getting worked up about. Living in a foreign country on my own, without any family or best friends, i understand how you feel. So the only conclusion i can come to is that the mean commenters are people who have never in their life gone outside of their comfort zone, who use the anonimity of the internet to vent their own frustrations on someone who has had the courage to show their weaknesses to everyone. It’s easy to criticize what someone is doing, all the while sitting on your ass and being an inert slob. So i guess what i’m trying to say is, stay strong and never mind the haters. Focus on the people you know and love and who know and love you. Try to keep a positive attitude – for what it’s worth, you have my full support 🙂
I can only imagine but still crave the opportunity to be a traveling, expat ‘freak.’
keep the blog going and your chin up! was expat in France when Faulkland crisis on and was spat at in the street! its not easy sometimes
Stay strong! Good luck!
Been there tone that three times, it’s not easy at all! O’s
“Whatever someone says to you is their karma. Whatever you think about what they said is your karma.” , a quote I read recently… so, just delet and move on 🙂 I loved the article! btw, local people ask you why you moved here because they think you went form riding a horse to riding a donkey 😉 If you love living here, raising your child and building a dream home, that’s the only thing that matters!
Stay strong and keep going!
The main problem is that most expats don’t enroll in intensive language classes when they arrive, and everything negative after that comes as a result of living in the ‘English bubble.’ My advice to an English speaker in another country – don’t form friendships with locals in English, and learn the language instead. It’ll be much harder at first but easier after that and you won’t be an ‘expat’ anymore..
Also we should appreciate that despite the problems we encounter, the issue of what to do with 500,000 refugees or asylum-seekers in the EU is far more pressing than what expats are facing.
People are just horrible
Sometimes without you sharing your life
Like you do many of us would not know much about Croatia at all. Some
People will just be haters don’t let them get you down
You should keep in mind that there is a sizeable % of knuckle-dragging lunatics in this country. I wouldn’t feel comfortable writing about them or their country in public. When they ask why I would come to live here, I hear “why would you come to live among people like these?”
Don’t let the haters win. Your blog is insightful and honest. The article was spot on. Be true to yourself and keep writing.
Great article. I feel your struggles, I immigrated from Iran to Canada 15 years ago, and now going to be moving to Croatia ( my partner is Croatian). Would love to speak to other expat women and have a network there.. We will be visiting in September so would love to grab a coffee to chat.
I’m a Croatian living in Australia since I was 4. I too intend to move back to the motherland at least for 6 months of the year maybe more but also intend to come back to Oz regularly for my fix. That I think is important…..to get back home once a year if you can. Secondly I know the language to a reasonable level but far from perfect and I know how difficult it can be. My priority when I make the move is too learn the language as close to perfect as possible…..I speak from experience. It’ll make ALL the difference. Lastly ….if they ask why move there….it’s only because they know not what they have and they think the grass is greener etc. so tell them it’s not that great elsewhere. Hope this helps
You really nailed it for my experiences! I especially relate to language, playgrounds, and career. I feel like I almost could have written those exact words myself.
As an Australian with Croatian heritage, having been there 7 times, considering a move to Croatia and currently living abroad I totally agree with the sentiments of your blog – especially about being questioned on why on earth I would want to live there. I get it from my Croatian family most of all – they can’t possible comprehend why I would leave Australia to live there when they are all trying so desperately to leave. Do not let this stop you from expressing your true self, especially when your blog is such a powerful outlet for you. Keep being who you are – not who the world wants you to be
Being a Brit here, I understood so much what you say and feel. Particularly the point about not being able to express yourself – and by definition *be* yourself – when your language skills are limited. You can say only what you are able to say, not what you would like to. That is really tough for me – it feels like your whole personality has been stifled. You are spot on with that! Ok, maybe we should both try harder to learn the language – but dammit, it’s bloody hard! Please keep on keeping on – and please don’t stop writing because of these people. You are not alone 🙂 xxx
Hey SJ. Been reading your posts for a while and I’ve always found them humorous, warm, and..personal. You’re a brave soul to open up that way and it’s perfectly understandable that you’ll close up some aspect of the postings. First rule should always be to protect yourself and your family. Haters must hate and a**holes must be…a**holes. Just, hopefully, keep in mind that the majority of your posts’ readers love your take on being an Ex-pat. Guess we simply have not passed that love on back. Drži se čvrsto I samo naprijed u svim smjerovima!
Forget the haters…,you have wonderful insights that need to be shared!!! I love your articles. I am with the other person posting who said skim and delete and DON’T stop your great articles!!!
Hey there SJB – big shout out to you..If anyone can understand, I can. Or beyond. It was ten years ago I first came here and two years later that I chose to move here. I won’t go into details but it has NOT been an easy ride for me either. I too felt isolated, to the point of talking to myself, and I did not have family to lean on…but I still have chosen Croatia as the place to be, where I feel happy and inspired…with many ups and downs and certainly asked myself what and why when I am constantly asked that question..ie celebrating getting my ID and permit to work and stay – first person I told did not congratulate me but said “good luck. but if you are smart you should go home.”.but I am here and I am struggling still to financially make it work, and have sacrificed a lot but I believe in believing what you want and work hard for will come to you! not to sound flakey.. I have come so far from the person that was afraid to ask for items at the village supermarket or drive a car,and on and on… to someone totally independent with friends here that are GOLD and are like family to me. ALL THE BEST TO YOU, and I hope we can share our stories over a glass of vino one day soon. I know we will 🙂
I’ve read the article, and as a Croatian am not sure what people get riled up about. Then again, I am human and I don’t get why people get riled up about most things. I’ve lived in the US and in Croatia, and often you get the same questions over and over again. After about 10 years, it doesn’t happen anymore, even with people I have recently met. All the emotions you’ve described are real, and perfectly normal.
After spending the last 20 years here I agree with you on all points. People can be mean but head up high & it will pass…trust me ☺. As I always say, once you move overseas you heart is never in one piece
I can’t believe it!!! Hang in there x I have just pinged you a kind email (dont be fooled my FB name “James” ) from Victoria sending hugs x ❤️
Don’t let that hate mail disturbs you, I love your blog! And learn few things about your experience in Croatia, I want to go there soon!
I have never been in your shoes and I follow your blog because my grandparents come from Croatia and we got to visit family there when I was younger, so those people became real to me. I have always been immersed in the culture and was in a local Cro dance/music troupe when I was a kid. So I have really enjoyed your blog because it gives me an idea of what it would be like for someone like me to go move there.
And I would like to add that I very seldom say anything on public boards because of the haters. It seems that no matter what I say, someone has to come behind me, try and invalidate my opinions and call me names. This is just, sadly, the world we live in. But I just had to respond to you because I could feel your sadness and it just made me angry. I hate bullies.
What I can say that I have noticed is that your post was heartfelt and honest. And so many of the responses to it were positive. Please don’t let the trolls get you down. You have your readers who appreciate your viewpoints and that article was shared with people who are not your target audience. Those are not your people. And no matter who you are and what you say, when you are not speaking to your people, there are going to be naysayers who use the Internet to spew hate in order to make themselves feel better. If you said that you loved yellow because it is happy and sunny, someone would come along and say that you were shallow because life isn’t all about sunshine and butterflies. It’s not personal, just try and let it go. Because they have. They have moved onto the next person who is the recipient of their special brand of hate. Your people still appreciate you and enjoy hearing about your journey. Please don’t stop.
I am croatian , living in Abu Dhabi , if u need any help or tips regarding Croatia i will be happy to help with advice :))) stay positive :))))
I am Croatian and an expat too. Did my 5y in Albania and now UAE. It’s interesting to read about my country and my people as you see it and write about it. And I think you are right about many things. In my life as an expat last 5 years I have discovered that only an expat can understand expat. Others just look at you like you are a freak!!! ( I get that feeling all the time when I come back to Croatia ). I don’t know who posted rude posts to you, was it Croatian ( wouldn’t be surprised) or someone other people but please don’t let that get to you. Don’t read it, delete it. Life is too short to let other people terrorize us with their hate and their jealousy. So please go on!!!! Don’t let them win. I am very honored that you like my country and took a big adventure to live here. And even more that you promote it as a great destination. Thank you for that.
Thank you for this article. As a prospective future expat in Croatia I really enjoy and benefit from reading your articles.. are there any expat networks in Croatia? Also We will be visiting in September and would be great to chat over coffee 🙂 I’m from Canada. PM me pls.
i read the post before and just read it again to see what the big deal is. you did a great job with the post and i cant see how you would have offended anyone. do you read comments on any article online? they are 99
percent hateful and negative, dont let it stop you. if you want to share with the world- somehow you’ve got to prepare yourself for the shitty comments. any expat can relate to you and i think you should feel proud and accomplished that you make all of us feel a little less out of place
I can understand your decision, though I’m baffled how people could’ve found something so mean to say?! You may enjoy this great TED talk by Brene Brown:
Hun the internet is a bitter-sweet place. You know this… My suggestion is once the mail starts off wrong don’t read the rest of it just exit and delete. Why waist minutes of your life reading it the same why the person did writing it? I think you should continue writing about your life because a lot of people are curious and like reading about it and even more relate to it one way or another.
I watched my friend be transferred with small children all over the world. I had the wonderful luck to join her for summers. We shared the fun and excitement, but her days started with language and culture classes. I couldn’t even use the phone in her home and her babysitter didn’t speak English nor I Portuguese. So, I get you. Stay strong. Say what you mean and mean what you say. You will attract the people you are meant to find.
dont let them “win” use the deleat key… I live in Wisconsin and everday wish I was at my family home in Lika, or of course on Hvar! .. Hey your Aussie dont let them push you around!… sending hugs to you and your family!
Please be strong. Loved your insight. I have always wondered about being an expat in Croatia, a country that my ancestors came from. You just explained the struggles of being an expat. Truly appreciate your blog and looking forward to the summer of 2016 when I hope to return.
Not sure why u received hate mail.. I’ve read your article and agree with it.. it hasn’t been easy.. actually it was hard for me in the first couple of years as I settled into the ”norm” of living here.. after a few years I actually finally settled into their way of life.. but never changing who I was.. the Aussie I was inside.. Oh the tears were bitter.. been there to many times.. chin up.. ur not the only one.. there are lots of expats here in Cro that understand..!!!!!!
This is such an honest and wonderful post. I’m so glad you shared your struggles but also that you feel that it’s so worthwhile. When I was an expat in Malaysia, I knew that it was for a limited time, so I think that made enduring the struggles easier. Growing up as a minority, one of only a few Asians in my grade level in primary school, it was quite an experience to move somewhere that I really blended into the general population. People would mistake me for a local Malaysian and complement me on my English skills. Now that I’m back in the USA, I almost feel like I’m on a mood-stabilizer. Compared to life in Malaysia, the lows aren’t as low but the highs aren’t as high either.
I moved here from Australia 6+ years ago and totally understand your sentiments… to this day I still get the “Why???”, even moreso when its revealed that I did NOT move here due to love (I came as a single female and stayed that way… then they really just don’t get it. During this past winter I visited Australia, having not been back for 5 years, and it just confirmed my thoughts that it is no longer the country I was born and raised in. First week I was there the tragic Lindt cafe incident occurred and that was the end of it for me.. I was not born in a country where its not safe to go into a cafe on any given morning, and I will not live in one where that is enabled to occur. If I’m honest the list of con’s here outnumbers the list of pro’s, BUT the few things on the pro list I value and cherish so highly, that I choose Croatia to live in at this time. At the end of the day some things in life matter, whilst others just collect dust. The simple and safe ability of been able to walk where I wish when I wish Im happy to swap for the loss of shopping… for things that collect dust.
I’m an Aussie and whatever you think about Australia is for you personally to decide, but you do realise that there was a war in Croatia only recently, don’t you?
Recently? It was 20 years ago.
# 1 and #6 are absolutely things I struggle with. I also struggle a lot with shopping here. People in grocery stores can be flat out rude and I have no idea where to purchase some things – even after 2 years of living here. And blogging – I absolutely love it as well!
I lived ten years abroad and completely relate with you! Learning French improved my life in France and I met much more people, but it also came with ‘oh, you got an accent, where are you from? What are you doing here?’, from every person I talked to (grrrr).
I guess the worst is that at the end I feel I don’t really belong abroad, but neither at my home country anymore, I always feel different.
But challenges and rewards together, I think it is worth 🙂
try to live in Russia, man -)
that’s really fun -))
As a Serbo/Croatian who grew up in Oz and is now at the end of my first year as an expat in the Gulf with my family, I nodded my way through your post. The toughest thing I have found is not feeling free to talk about the daily challenges with people back home because their natural reaction is, “Well, you decided to take yourself there.” At such times, I just remind myself of our upcoming summer holiday on Hvar and smile broadly to myself 🙂 Thanks for sharing!
Great post! You described your feelings so clearly.
Someone once said that all big things comes with big price. You already made biggest step – left all behind and started something new in place so strange to you. And that needs a lots of courage! Now it will be only easier.
Don’t hesitate to ask friends for help! That is one of the things that are great here – your friends count on that you will call them if you need help. And they will help you without hesitation or expecting anything for that. That is why they are friends. The same way that you will be there for them if they need.
Cody described that perfectly ).
When you are down, try to see positive sides – be proud on your yourself for making such a HUGE step. And see other obstacles as future goal that needs to be accomplished. Include others on your path (family, friends, this blog…) and things will get easier.
I wish all the best for you and your family and I have no doubt that soon all this problems will be just one nice memory for remembering.
If you want to help a friend that you know you can help – would you hesitate?
If you want a friend to help you – do you think he/she would hesitate to help you?
Do you think they will act different from you?
Learning a new language is easy for children and hard for adults – but not impossible!
Have you heard Arnold Schwarzenegger talk US-english? He became guvenor! I like his beautiful pronunciation – more beautiful than many americans!
I would recommend you to take courses – maybe to involve yourself in some kind of charity?
Best regards Søren
That was excellent!! I didn’t do quite the same thing but I got married at age 18 and moved to North Carolina from Ontario. There wasn’t a language barrier but the was a ‘culture’ barrier. That’s still not even remotely like what you’ve been dealing with though. You’ve been AMAZING to follow and you’ve helped relentlessly to feed my love of Croatia! Hang in there. It’ll only get better and better. 😉
Great article as always.Everything will come in time. Strpljen – spašen (Patient – saved. )
Hi, I live in the Czech Republic. Best thing I’ve done here is to devote 5+ hours a week to improving my Czech. Before that I was just another expat, and I didn’t want to be ‘that guy’..It’s brought new challenges, but I’m glad I’ve done it and can now get by in the local language. It’ll be the same for folks in Croatia too, that you can do it 🙂
Next time they ask zasto say zasto ne or zato or zato sto mogu and end it, u don’t owe anyone an explanation. When your little donkey starts school you will make heaps of new friends that will journey through your life with you. To learn the language play cro music all day and sing at the top of your voice to help with ennunciation, that’ s how I learnt. Believe you are doing the right thing and you will be fine, don’t feel bad asking for help that’s how friendships are strengthened. All power to you, you may live in cro but you were raised here and that means you r tougher than you will ever know!
All of this. A hundred times over. I am sick of (in the same convo as “why are you here?”) ” how do you like the Netherlands? ” Part of me wants to say, “Well, I haven’t run across the border screaming because its the bagillionth time I’ve been asked that, but there’s always tomorrow!” But seriously, when I tell you I’ve been here for a few years, any novelty to that question is long passed. My new answer is “some days are easier than others, but of course that happens for everyone once they go off on their own.” That’s been, so far, taken well enough and left alone after that.
Wish I could give you a hug. I personally would love to go back to Croatia as I don’t like what Australia is becoming and long for the beautiful, peaceful life.
I’m an Aussie. I’m curious to know what we’re becoming. A nanny state?
Ps. hrvatska is WAY ahead of Monte when it comes to online shopping, lol.
Yes, all of it and still prefer living here in ex-Yu; the insane Brits who don’t even have one ancestor who is from here. Your jezik will get better and better. I can make pathetic jokes these days – understanding most jokes is still beyond me though. xx
I really relate to what you’ve written SJ – we’ve been in Italy for almost a year with our 3 kids, and it’s challenging.
However, our kids have just about finished their first year of school in Italian! As much as I miss home (Oz), I am so proud of how far they’ve come. It makes it feel all worthwhile. They didn’t know how to string a sentence together in Italian before we left Oz, and now they are fairly fluent.
I too get asked often, “Why did you choose to come here?!” I usually laugh it off, but I have my honest comeback down pat, “For the experience, for the kids to learn another language, and for them to strengthen their bonds with their relatives overseas” – no one tends to argue with that!
Do you get asked the comparison question?! Which country is better?!
I do, and usually (and honestly) say, “Italy and Oz are so diverse, you can’t compare them.
You may enjoy reading this fun article I read recently:
21 Struggles Of Just-Sort-Of-Kind-Of Speaking A Second Language:
Loving your blog – keep it up!
P.S. Are you able to take any structured Croatian language courses?
(My parents are Croatian, so I can appreciate the challenges of learning Croatian)
We travelled back & forth from Oz to Croatia with & without kids many times since my first visit in 1997 when I fell in love with the country. The one time I enrolled in a structured language course… I almost lost my sanity – damn hard language to learn academically! I’m bilingual, English is my second language, Spanish my language of origin, I speak some French and Italian. But Croatian… The homework brought me to tears night after night. The best way for me was simply to keep on keeping on, lived in Croatia for a year, one day the penny will drop. At first you will find that you begin to understand, then words will come. You will not look back
Great read! Just thinking, I don’t think i have ever asked any expats in australia why they are here lol. If they are asking u over there im assuming it might be to do with the economic situation over there, compared to that in australia. I don’t think it would be personal, especially if they don’t understand all the deeper reasons for your journey ☺
Oh SJ. I get it. I get it WAY more than youll ever know. You’ve lasted 24 months & thats an amazing accomplishment. You should be very proud of yourself and the example you’re setting for your son.
Yes, to aII of this. I Ieft New York City in 2009 to move to…. (drum roII pIease)…. GREECE! As soon as I open my mouth to say anything in Greek I instantIy get asked, ‘Where are you from’? The foIIow up comment is aIways something Iike ‘oh did you move because you feII in Iove with a Greek man’? And when I shockingIy answer ‘NO! I moved because I reaIIy, reaIIy wanted to Iive in Greece’, the conversation goes down in fIames. Not onIy have I had to ‘defend’ my decision as if I were on triaI but I’ve aII but been caIIed an idiot from my feIIow Greeks. In spite of my ‘untimeIy’ move, I have never had any regrets. Yes, it’s difficuIt adapting, absorbing and accepting the cuIture shock and every singIe point you make is spot on, but at the moment I wouIdn’t have it any other way. You think pictures on Facebook make you cry? My mother skyped me during EVERY famiIy event, hoIiday dinner or miIestone I missed the first year I was away – she thought it was a cute way to have me invoIved. 🙂 SiIver Iining about Iiving in Greece; Croatia is onIy about 2 hrs away and I am so Iooking forward to my visit!!!! Thanks for this great post.
What a brutally honest, thoughtful post. Thank you for sharing it. All of the hurdles you describe likely are the reasons others – including me – are not brave enough to follow in your footsteps. I love the idea of immersing myself into a new culture, but only for short periods, a few weeks at most. It takes real strength of character to take the bigger bolder step that you have taken.
When people ask you “why,” likely it is motivated both by curiosity and admiration for taking the less-traveled path. When they ask “why,” a part of them is wondering “why can’t I do that, what does she know or trait does she have that I don’t.” Both questioning you but also questioning themselves. (And life is a series of phases, and who knows what you will feel in Year 3 or 5 or 6?)
I understand this all too well. I lived in Germany for 11 years and although my language skills got much better, I still was an outsider. I always felt like someone had plopped me down to play a board game in the middle of the game, and no one would explain any of the rules. Germany is a beautiful wonderful country to visit. For a creative American it gets pretty stifling to try to live there and fit in their box.
On the other hand, coming back to the states had it’s challenges too. I miss the world news, because frankly what passes for news in the US is crap. I have a different view of the world than most people in the Midwest. I think that’s why I am so drawn to travel bloggers.
Keep writing your blog because we love it! Thank you for the honest post.
always enjoy your posts and blog. One question(food for thought): why are English speakers referred to as “expats” while everyone else is an “immigrant”?
I always just called myself an expats as I don’t have residency here. I only use immigrant for the people who have residency… maybe I am wrong??
There’s a massive debate over the use of “expat” versus “immigrant.” Considering the nature of the argument and the overlapping definitions, I don’t think it’ll ever end.
I believe the general consensus is that an expat is someone temporarily living in a foreign country while an immigrant is more or less permanent. However, the term “expat” in this regard is often misused.
I refer to myself as an expat because it is the most commonly used term that I’ve come across. However, I also still hold permament residence in the U.S., technically work in the U.S., and pay taxes in the U.S.
Yes, I agree with you. And if you were non-white, you’d be an immigrant. 🙂
I immigrated to the States from Croatia, moved to Germany for a few year as an expat (although I was born in Germany as an immigrant I guess?!), and now live in Canada as an “immigrant” (my wife and I joke about it).
…hit the nail on the head…
My greatest struggle: where to find kiseli kupus to make some sarma for Nova Godina party 😉 No, seriously, I miss food, fresh fruit, fish and other goodies that became luxury in the country of plenty. You can’t have it all!
Great article SJ. Thanks for sharing. As i read it, i sat smiling, nodding, knowing and secretly, guiltily happy that there’s someone else out there going through the ups and downs of choosing to live so far away from home and family. You nailed it girlfriend