API offers an opportunity to study in the beautiful Dubrovnik, Croatia. We had the chance to chat with program alumni about the picturesque views, unique culture and adventure-filled excursions to ultimately answer the question; “Why Dubrovnik?” The first in this series is Caitlin from Champlain College, who studied with API in Dubrovnik for the fall of 2013.
Why did you choose Dubrovnik as your study abroad location?
When I was searching for study abroad locations, Dubrovnik was brand new to me, and no classmates from my school had interest at the time, so I saw it as a good chance to branch out and challenge my own boundaries.
Once I started looking Croatia up online and reading more about the culture, climate, and food, not to mention how beautiful the city is, I was completely sold.
How did people respond when you told them you were going to study abroad in Croatia?
Most were like “What? Where’s that?” And when I said across the sea from Italy most people were like “Oh…” but still not quite sure. There weren’t many things people could say as most of them had never heard of it before!
What was your favorite API excursion or cultural event?
It’s hard to say what my favorite trip/event would be because they were all new and unique experiences for me–Plitvice Lakes, Elaphiti Islands, Rome, Montenegro, to name a couple. I loved spending time with my friends, American, Croatian and beyond. We would go to the beach, get coffee, and spend time making food together.
Probably my favorite memory was having Thanksgiving with my whole group (about 14 of us.) We spent days scouring stores to find pseudo thanksgiving food ingredients and the boys spent hours cooking 6 little chickens between 3 ovens to compensate for no turkeys in the region. It is a very heart-warming memory!
What were some of your favorite things to do in Dubrovnik in your down time?
I loved going to the beach, going for walks around the city and hillsides, finding hidden beaches and caves, trying new foods and taking a stab at the Croatian language. We also loved to go dancing as a group and met so many wonderful people who were able to show us a more authentic side of life.
What was your favorite class/classes?
I loved Communications with Petar Turcinovic. He really challenged me to think outside of the box and approach problems differently in all aspects of my life. Having a background in Design, all of my classes were new being business centered, but they all challenged me in different ways that made me become more well-rounded and worldly.
How easy was it to make friends with other students or get along with locals?
It’s not too hard to make friends with fellow Americans as you end up living with some of them and they really become your family. We had a unique experience being the first group–where the local students coincidentally put in extra effort to try and get to know us, just as we did. Though it can be tough at first, you find how much in common you can have. I have been to a wedding out of the country for one friend I met in Croatia, and met up with another from Bosnia when I went back to Croatia last year. Some friendships aren’t ones where you talk everyday, but instead ones that feel as though nothing has changed once you do meet again, even years later.
What would you tell someone who is considering Dubrovnik as a study abroad destination?
If you want to challenge your perception of what happiness and truly being “fortunate” is, take the time to learn about, and become immersed in this country. For a country so recently ravaged by war, they are a very calm, caring people who will tell you of its beauty and tragedy as no one else can. Having a lifestyle so removed from theirs, it was eye-opening and humbling to learn to appreciate things like good food, friendships and spectacular sunsets. An experience is only as good as you’re willing to let it be, so regardless of where you end up, dive in head-first and really live and breathe the culture.