By Iva Ralica
In our feature ‘Foreigners who made Croatia home’ – we meet people who have decided to move and make a new life in Croatia.
We find out why they came and stayed, what they enjoy about their ‘new’ home, how they getting on with the language, and what tips they have for those contemplating a move.
Today we meet Cody McClain Brown, who moved to Zagreb from the United States.
How long have you been living in Zagreb now?
A little over five years.
What brought you to Croatia?
I fell in love with a Croatian woman, saw her hometown, Split, then met her mom, and knew we had to live here.
What was the most difficult thing about the shift?
At the beginning, it was feeling relatively friendless and like an outsider in a different culture.
Main difference between Croatia and the US?
The quality of life here is much better than where I’m from. The way I live on the low income that I make would be impossible in the US.
How do you make your living here?
I teach at the Faculty of Political Science, write a blog for the Voice of Croatia and write books.
Nope. Croatia has such a rich history and interesting culture that my problem is trying to not to get inspired by different things while I’m trying to finish something I already started.
3 favourite things about Zagreb?
The tram, the socialist and Hapsburg eras of architecture, the people in the streets.
3 things you would like to change about Zagreb?
I’d pave the parking lot at the infectious disease hospital, paint over the graffiti, and lower the tram tickets to five kuna.
Favourite Croatian food?
Favourite place to eat?
Favourite place to chill out?
Flower Square or Tkalčićeva.
Favourite place outside of Zagreb to visit in Croatia?
How well do you speak the language?
Hmm, I don’t know. When I’m out and about, I don’t speak English, I try to speak as much Croatian as I can, I only speak to punica in Croatian. And people say I have a decent pronunciation, but I still make mistakes. Like the other day all of my daughter’s friends laughed at me because I said, ‘Ja sam prestara.’ And then she was like, Daddy, ‘You just said your an old girl.’ So, I’m still learning.
The biggest cultural difference between Croatia and your home country?
This changes the longer I’m here. Things that seemed huge have now become minuscule as I’ve become more accustomed to them. Presently, I think the biggest difference is between American optimism and Croatian pessimism.
That’s actually one of the main themes of the second book. I try to understand why Croatians are so skeptical and Americans aren’t. I also understand how your friend’s skepticism isn’t necessarily an insult, but a form of protection.
What makes you “homesick”?
Time. Knowing that I’m getting older here, and the America I knew keeps receding further into the past.
Advice for someone coming and staying in Croatia?
Be sure to bring a lot of hope and patience.