Katie Adcock - 2014 Program Participant
Enjoying the view after hiking in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
How did you decide study abroad was something you had to do?
When I was in high school I was given the opportunity to go abroad for two weeks in the summer. During those two weeks I got to visit some of the most iconic cities in Europe, while getting a chance to experience different cultures and meet new people. By the end of those two weeks I had fallen completely in love with traveling and exploring new places.
At that moment I decided that I would never stop traveling, the following summer I went on another two week trip to Europe and got to explore four more incredible countries. By the end of that trip, I realized that I wanted to really experience these places. I didn't want to just spend a few days being a tourist, I wanted to spend a longer period of time to really learn and experience the joys of the country. That is when I decided to study abroad. The next year when I started university, the first thing I did was visit the international center to begin the application process to go abroad.
Overlooking Dubrovnik, Croatia
What attracted you to Croatia?
I was lucky when it came to choosing where to go. My university has over 60 partner universities around the world to choose from. This made the process of going abroad very easy. After giving it a lot of thought I was torn between two countries, New Zealand and Croatia. Ultimately, I decided I want more of cultural experience and decided to choose Croatia. I actually didn't know anything about Croatia until I started looking into it.
After researching it, I felt like it was almost a hidden gem. I mean it’s obvious from the pictures that it's a beautiful place. I think many Americans have such a negative attitude towards Eastern Europe, which is really a shame. So I decided to take the road less traveled and applied to go to Croatia. I decided to go to the Zagreb School of Economics and Management because they were a partner school and they are the only college in the region with the AACSB accreditation, which made finding courses to take very easy!
What was your favorite part about the city of Zagreb?
I loved everything about the location! First of all ZSEM is located right in the center of Zagreb, the capital of Croatia! Coming from the middle of the United States it was really exciting to be living in the country’s capital! Zagreb is also very centrally located, which made it really easy to take weekend trips. I could easy get on a bus or train and head to almost any major city/country in Europe, which was great! I think my absolute favorite part about the location was that I was only about an hour or two away from the sea and only a few minutes away from the mountains! It truly was the best of both worlds!
What makes the Zagreb School of Economics and Management unique?
The Zagreb School of Economics and Management is very different from my university back in the states. I think the most unique thing about the school is that they offer a complete undergraduate program in English. So, half the students were learning completely in English while the other half learned in Croatian. This meant that there were tons of courses to choose from and I didn't have to worry about a language barrier. Also, the professors at ZSEM were all very young and had been exposed to some of the best universities in Europe and the United States, and had experience working at some of the best companies around the world.
Katie enjoying London, England
How supported did you feel throughout your program?
I don't know what else to say except that Croatians are great! Everyone was extremely helpful and genuinely happy to help. The professors and staff at the university were so kind and understanding and didn't mind giving extra help when needed. The employees in the international office were also beyond helpful. They were always recommending places to go and things to do, and were always around to answer any questions. They also provided the international students with a Croatian buddy to help the international students adjust to life in Croatia! Also, everyone spoke very good English which I didn't expect!
What's one thing you wish you would have done differently during your time in Croatia?
Honestly, I don't think there was anything I would have done differently. I had such an incredible time in Zagreb and Croatia in general! I really got to see and learn a lot about this incredible country! I didn't expect to love it as much as I did. I guess if I had to say something I would do differently I think I would have spent a little more time trying to learn the language. I really wanted to learn the language but it is an extremely hard language, and everyone in Croatia speaks English and actually enjoys speaking English.
Describe a day in your life as a student in Croatia.
It's really hard to describe "a day in the life" because everyday was very different. Since we were living in the country’s capital there was always something going on. I guess a typical day went something like, wake up and get ready. Then go to class, after class I would usually go to coffee with some friends. In Croatia "going to coffee", means drinking a coffee then spending about two hours in the coffee shop catching up and just talking about life. After coffee I would go home and do homework (I rarely ever had any), then make dinner.
After dinner I would normally go out for another coffee (Did I mention Croatians really love coffee?). After coffee I would usually meet up with some friends and we would hangout or go for a drink. Oh and sometimes throughout the day we would work on planning our weekend trip. But like I said, everyday was a little different, depending on if there was anything going on around town!
Katie and friends exploring Budapest, Hungary
What did you love doing during your free time in Zagreb?
There were a lot of things I loved doing in Zagreb. I guess my favorite thing to do was go to Maksimir Park, which is this huge park located in Zagreb. It is a great place to hang out! A lot of the time students would meet up there and chill by the lakes, play soccer, or just walk around. I spent a lot of time in the park just listening to music and hangout with friends. I also really loved just walking around the center and getting lost in the city! Zagreb isn't that big of a city, but every time I walked around I found somewhere or something new!
How did you like your accommodation in Zagreb? What was it like?
Accommodation in Zagreb was great! The college did not provide accommodation but they did help students find places to stay. I stayed in a nice three bedroom flat, that was about a five to ten minute walk to school and about a ten minute tram ride into the center. It was in a very great location and was very affordable. I really liked the independence it gave me. Back in the states I lived in a student dorm and never had to worry about paying rent or utilities, so that was all very new to me. I also loved getting the chance to live with students from different cultures. I had to get used to living with people who do things differently than I do, and that was a great learning experience!
Castle top view of the famous Croatian coast.
In what ways has studying abroad in Croatia changed your life?
This experience has changed my entire life. Before I came to Croatia I wasn't really sure what I wanted to do after I graduated and I didn't really know what I was capable of. The only thing I knew for sure was that I wanted to travel and wanted to experience living abroad. After spending a few months in Croatia everything started to make sense and everything just kind of fell into place. I know that's cliche but it's the truth.
Not only did I discover what I wanted to do with my life, but I discovered more about the person I am and who I want to be.
I have stopped being so afraid of disappointing everyone and stopped being worried about messing up my future. I also realized that I need to live in the moment and take advantage of every opportunity that comes my way. After four months in Croatia I decided on a major, decided on a career path, and I decided to finally do what makes me happy. What makes me happy is Croatia, so I decided to transfer to ZSEM as a full time student and complete my undergraduate education here.
People always told me that studying abroad would change your life but I never fully understood until I experienced it for myself. Yes, leaving the comfort of your home to move halfway across the world is scary, but it is also the best decision I ever made. I learned more about myself in these last few months then I ever thought possible. I pushed my limits and faced my fears and because of that I got to experience things that I never even thought we're possible.