ZAGREB, November 10, 2020 — Croatia is becoming an increasingly popular destination for international students. According to UNESCO, there were only 700 international students enrolled in Croatian universities in 2012. This is glaringly low number compared to other countries in the European Union.
Fortunately, that began to change with the rising popularity of the Erasmus program. Croatian universities have added more English programs and courses too. Fast forward to today, that number has now more than doubled to over 1,500 international students in higher education institutions. While countries like Germany, Netherlands and France continue to be favorites, Croatia is slowly gaining a reputation for its universities among international students.
Daily Croatia spoke with several international students at RIT Croatia to gain a better understanding of what all the buzz is about.
Croatia ‘Very Beautiful County with Ancient and Fascinating Culture’
“Even though I have been here for four years already, people still ask me why Croatia?” said Victoria Moscovciuc, who is from Moldova and studies at one of the country’s private universities, RIT Croatia in Zagreb. “My answer is: why not Croatia? Croatia is a very beautiful country with an ancient and fascinating culture. Plus it is very similar to my own country.”
The Rochester Institute of Technology is a private university in New York with global campuses all over the world. Those include Dubrovnik and Zagreb, which account for around 20 percent of the international student population in Croatia. Many have chosen this option over Croatia’s public universities because the degree is accredited by Croatia and the United States.
Both campuses offer a bachelor’s degree in IT/Web and Mobile Computing. In addition, Zagreb offers an International Business program along with masters programs. The Dubrovnik campus focuses on its Hospitality and Tourism Management degree.
Classes in English Make it Easier for Croatians Abroad to Experience Homeland
“Being born and raised in Toronto (Canada), I have visited Croatia every summer since childhood. Those visits fueled my passion for keeping my Croatian culture alive within me,” said Emma Marunic. She studies Hospitality and Tourism Management on the Dubrovnik campus.
“I wanted to live and attend college in the country where my family is from. I also wanted to further educate myself about the traditions, culture, people and language,” she added.
Furthermore, the availability of programs in English makes it easier for Croatians abroad to return to their home country and learn about their roots too. This was the case for Denim Behn, who grew up in South Africa and lived there most of his life.
“I have very limited knowledge of Croatian. Therefore, I searched for English colleges in Croatia. And that is when I found RIT Croatia,” explained Behn.
International Students Admit to Culture Shock, Adapt Quickly
“My parents and I always maintained our Croatian culture in our daily lives. This background helped me adapt quicker to the environment and culture. I admit I had a bit of a culture shock during the first month, since people in Dubrovnik have a different dialect and lifestyle. But, I adapted quickly,” revealed Marunic.
One substantial part of any student’s university experience abroad is adapting to the place, as Marunic pointed out. Luckily for most, there wasn’t much of a culture shock. Nor have they encountered difficulties adapting to the Croatian lifestyle — by the sea in Dubrovnik or in the capital city of Zagreb.
“The culture and way of life in the small town of Dubrovnik is quite different to South Africa,” revealed Behn. “This is because South Africa is a multicultural society with more modern architecture and approach to daily life.”
“Adapting to the Zagreb lifestyle wasn’t difficult at all. If I had to point one challenging thing for me, it would be the cold climate. However, but that is only because I came from a very warm country,” said Teodora Bozovic. She hails from Montenegro, further down along the Adriatic coast.
Students Embrace Croatian ‘Holy’ Coffee Culture
“I was commenting on this with some of my international friends not long ago. We all agreed the thing we love about Zagreb is that the buildings are very European. Nevertheless, the city has warm Balkan culture,” said Bozovic.
Bozovic pointed out that coffee makes up a vital part of Croatian daily life. Meeting for coffee is the go-to activity for Croatians any time of day. Internationals have also joined in on the caffeine craze. Hailing from Lebanon, Mickael Assaf wholeheartedly agrees, while mentioning some other elements that round out Croatia’s international appeal.
“Food, Dalmatian music, friendly people, the ‘Holy’ coffee time, one of the most beautiful coasts. And the list goes on and on. In addition, I learned a lot about Croatia through my girlfriend and her family. I must say that God has touched this country,” said Assaf, who moved from Dubai to study in Croatia.
‘Kind Hearted’ Locals Offer Hospitality, Help With Everyday Struggles
Students were also eager to share their advice for anyone considering Croatia as a destination for study abroad.
“People here are kind hearted and willing to help with everything you may struggling with. I also love the traditions and places filled with history. Croatia is such a beautiful country, and the people here make you feel at home,” said Marunic.
“Croatia is a gorgeous place full of never-ending excitement and there is always something to do. I highly recommend it. And for whoever decides to come here, do not hesitate to contact me for more information. I know how tough it is to move to a country where you don’t know anyone or anything. I would gladly offer my help and guidance,” added Assaf.
Follow our Lifestyle page to learn more about international student life in Croatia. Check out the RIT Croatia website here, Facebook here, and YouTube here to learn more about their courses and degree options offered in English.