Erasmus is one and only in its kind experience. From the very begging of my studies, I knew that I want to go somewhere abroad to study, meet people and new culture. After many hours of thinking I decided that going to ‘Western” countries is going to be pointless. These countries are really well known and besides that my financial status would not let me to take everything from this time, what would like to experience.
Suddenly somewhere in December our local Erasmus coordinator announced that there is one more destination to choose – Zagreb. Without unnecessary dilemmas I have chosen Zagreb. What was coming to my mind was the stereotypical things. You know guys…… I am going to the Balkans!!!
My name is Micha? and I would like to tell you the story of my Erasmus in Zagreb.
I am 21 years old and I study journalis in Toru? (Poland). When I have chosen capital city of Croatia as my Erasmus destination I realized that I do not know much about it. I asked my friends who spent summer in Croatia, how does it look like. Most of the people were saying about beautiful, warm country, with palms on the streets and laid back people. After hearing that I was sure that this is going to be the legendary Erasmus.
I came to Zagreb by plane. The airport Pleso is not so big but I thought, „Whatever, in my city airport is small as well but city is beautiful”. As it turned out my optimism was way beyond the realism. There was no palms and everything looked like provicial town in southern Poland.
From the airport I took a bus to the city center, it cost 30 kuna ( 1Euro – 7.72kn). It tooked me at about hour to come to the center. On the bus station (Autobusovni Kolodvor), my buddy was waiting for me. When I left the bus despite the fact that I was tired as a horse after the western movie, I greeted her with huge and kind smile. In return she responded in beautiful poetic polish. In that moment I was that shocked that I looked like child seeing black man for the first time. After my short cultural shock she said that she stud polish literature and her boyfriend is polish. I was so ashamed how my language sound like that I felt like speaking with some pre II World War professor. After all she took me to the hostel where I have spent next two weeks.
In the hostel, felling a sleep I was excited for the next day to see the city. At about six o’clock in the morning my enthusiasm was destroyed by city traffic. I realized that the main argument in traffic arguments is a horn and the dude who has the loudest one or the one who push it faster, wins the argument…..
After quick shower I step out on the streets of the city. In that moment I realized how huge blessing is air condition. Only people who live in big cities know what does summer in the city mean. On the first junction I was already sweated like after long run. At the same time I felt some familiar smell. Couple meters further I have found the source of this smell. It was stand with fried chestnuts and cooked and grilled corn As it later turned out, these stands were on each corner in the city center.Whe we are speaking about moving in the city I have one useful tip about public transport in Zagreb. Don’t bother yourself about tickets. If you are enough brave and creative you can avoid controllers and in consequence a fine. Controllers can not touch you, stop you, or grab your documents, you just need to play silly buggers. They can call police but than you are already far away.
After two maximum three hours I saw whole old town and decide to sit somewhere and drink a beer. Cold beer in the summer sun of Balkans was the best end of my day of sightseeing. Going back to the hostel I stopped on the main square(Ban Jelacic Square) to catch free Wi-Fi. When I was checking my Facebook, I heard familiar music. In that moment I realized that I am in the city where bands like Azra,Haustor or Parni Valjak started career. Just to clarify why is it so important. In Poland couple years ago tops of most hits-list were occupied by songs from project called „Yugoton”. Polish artist recorded album singing best hits of ex-Yugoslavia. (at the end you can find polish and Croatian version of songs from the album).
On the same day I meet group of people who became my friends in here and they will stay in my memory for ever.
Ok but let focus on some more relevant information. The main point of Erasmus exchange are of course studies. But when you come here you realize that the most important part of whole Erasmus idea is exchange of experiences and cultures between people. I haven’t met any unkind behavior from people in here. Thank to provincial character of the city, people remaind completely different that people in other European capitals. As you could see on one of the videos from “Erasmus Guide”, no matter if people don’t speak any other language than Croatian, they will help as much as they can. For example when you are right after the party, hangover, hungry and it is six o’clock in the morning, you are desperate to ask anyone about some place where you can eat. My friend found a man and ask him. But as it is predictable he didn’t speak English. When we were completely disappointed, the man asked us where are we from. We explained him that we are from Poland and we are studying here. It turned out that the old man something like 40 years ago had study in Poland and learned some polish. How impossible is that???!!! The man showed us a bar open 24h and was incredible pleased that he could refresh his polish.
Later on you can see situations that people help you just because that you are Slavic and when you ask them “Dude, I don’t know how should I thank you” they look at you with this huge generous smile, shake your hand and say „ Hey, man we are Slavic brothers we need to keep together”. Some Professors on the university, when they get to know that you are from Poland, instead of continue the lecture they change the topic to say other students about Polish history and how we struggled for our independence during the ages. BTW, greetings for professor Cipek.
Speaking about University, actually Sveu?ilište u Zagrebu is on of the oldest and the biggest universities in Europe. Formed by emperor Franz Joseph is ranked in 500 best universities on Earth. And how to say it … it is visible. If you think about coming for easy peasy Erasmus, choose other options. The level is very high and professor actually expect from you that you will study. It doesn’t look like stereotypical Erasmus at all. My faculty (Faculty of political Science – Fakultet politi?kih znanosti) is, at least in my opinion, world class faculty. After four moths you surly will know history of Balkans and especially Croatia, maybe what is more relevant what is Balkans, greetings for Professor Jovi?. Even classes that you thought that are going to be like walk in the park are pretty challenging, greetings for professor Perisin. But there is a hope. If you are lazy ass and like my roommate, you want to spend your Erasmus on parties and playing League of Legends, take courses in Croatian. No matter how abstract it sounds like it allows you to stay away from faculty and just write an essay and exam. Speaking about university, there is one thing that piss me off. Croatian students who attend the courses with you (courses in English) in the end they can choose what language they will write an exam and essay. This is not a rule on every classes but most of my classes looked like that.
Studies on a side. You need to live somewhere. I had chosen dormitory Ante Star?evi?. If you need to save some money this is going to be the best choice for you, but if only you can afford something more expensive keep away from here. In „Ante” for 100 euros you get tiny room for two, and shared bathroom with the room next door. Let say that kitchen exist… this what I can say about it. During the night you might experience unpleasant visit of Security guy from reception, sometimes when you are „lucky” the guy might be drunk and will try to stop party that you’re having. Owww I almost forgot about the biggest attraction, the railway line 20 meters from windows, and trains going 24h per day. If you are fascinated in Bear Grylls adventures or you are masochist or you just need to save some money, Ante Star?evi? is the best choice for you
The topic of my stay in here is like a river, a river full of alcohol and various memories. One day I will write the full version of this story because it is going to be amazing mixture of drama, comedy, history, psychedelic memories. If you want to experience something completely unpredictable and sometimes shocking, Zagreb is good choice, but remember be prepared for everything because after crossing the border of Croatia you need to put away all the logic that you know.
– Kazik Staszewski – Czaro Bia?y ?wiat
Parni Valjak – Uhvati Ritam – Pawe? Kukiz Jan Borysewicz – O nic nie pytaj
Parni Valjak – Vru?e igre – Muniek i Yugopolis – Warszawski lot