Last week, we wrote about Croatia’s best-ever ranked wheelchair tennis player, 29-year-old Anto Joskić, who is hoping to fulfil his dream next year and play at the Paralympics.
Anto launched a crowdfunding campaign on the Go Get Funding platform to raise money to get him to tournaments to help qualify for Tokyo 2020. There has been plenty of support for Anto, none more so than from his wife Emilly.
Emilly is a 26-year-old Brazilian and met her husband, Anto, whilst in Zagreb as an exchange student. Born in the city of Rio de Janeiro and a psychology graduate, Emilly has been living in the Croatian capital Zagreb since April, 2017.
“I don’t know exactly how many Brazilians there are here, but I know every year more and more Brazilians come to visit, to study and to live here. I always hang out with some of them.”
Emilly thinks there are many differences between Croatia and Brazil, but also many similarities. First the differences.
“Let’s start with the most obvious one: climate. I lived in Rio very close to the beach, so having half of the year with very cold weather has been a challenge. The social interaction also is a big difference between these two countries. Brazilians talk to everybody all the time and everywhere. Even if we don’t know who we are talking with, we talk to them. The conversation can happen in the middle of street, supermarket lines, elevator, bus, etc. We love to talk. Like this we make many friends everywhere. Croatians are always very polite and attentive, but It’s hard make friends here, and there’s a small chance to have a random talk with someone you don’t know.”
And the similarities?
“Well, I see some similarities about enjoying quality time with family and friends, the love for music and food, but what made me remember Brazil here was the passion for football during the World Cup. It was so beautiful to see everybody celebrating together in every corner of Zagreb. I think it was the most beautiful and emotional moment I had here. Because it made me remember how we are the same. Brazil and Croatia are so different in so many ways, but during the World Cup I realised how we are so alike. The passion and the parties are exactly the same. We go on the streets wearing our Brazil shirts, we dance, we drink, we become the most patriot people in the world. Unfortunately, Brazil has many problems, but we are very happy people. Like Croatians, we love to find reasons to celebrate. And football is one of the reasons that make us forget our differences and just be happy (or very angry).”
So how is life in Zagreb?
“I really love everything about Zagreb. It’s very safe city, there are many coffee shops, beautiful parks and it’s blessed with many stunning views. Sunset in the Upper Town is so beautiful. Actually all of Croatia is very blessed by God with breathtaking sunsets. If I could change something, I would preserve more the nature even outside parks. I see more and more buildings and less and less trees around the city.”
Emilly says she has also fallen in love with Croatian wine, and homemade cakes and pies.
“Unfortunately I have not learned to make any traditional Croatian dishes yet. I spend too much time trying to figure out how I’ll adapt a Brazilian dish with Croatian ingredients. However, I want to learn to cook Štrukle because it’s delicious.”
What sort of foods did you grow up with?
“Well, Barbecue! Brazilian barbecue is very different from a Croatian one. We have different ways to prepare, different meats and different side dishes. It’s my favourite Brazilian food and I don’t know any Brazilian who doesn’t like it. My husband loves the Brazilian barbecue. It’s his favourite Brazilian food too. We also eat black beans very often, that we call feijão. Feijão with rice is usually on the plate of Brazilians every day. With feijão we can prepare feijoada, which is very traditional too. Feijoada is black beans cooked with fresh and smoked meats and accompanied by traditional side dishes. You can’t go to Brazil and not try it.”
Emilly says that the most difficult thing about moving to a new country to live has been the language.
“The Croatian language is very difficult to me. I love that everybody here speaks English, so I have no problems in supermarkets, pharmacies, restaurants, etc. But Baby steps. It’s very hard language, very complicated grammar and it has sounds that I never heard in my life. Sometimes I decide to have an adventure in the city and start to use my unique Croatian!. Nobody ever understands so I back to the English. Every time I try speak in Croatian it is funny. I mix the words, for example kokoš (hen) and kokos (coconut). The only ones who understand me are the very small kids!”
In her spare time, Emilly loves to enjoy the cafe scene and sit in a coffee shop with no worries about time.
“The first few times, I drunk my juice very fast and in 5 minutes I was going out from the place already. Well, now I don’t see myself not sitting and enjoying this quality time. I love this about this city. Everybody does this all the time. It’s a style of life that I learned to love. Sometimes with a friend, sometimes with my husband or sometimes just by myself. We don’t have this in Brazil. When I went to Brazil last time I missed this. No matter where I go, from now on, I’ll take this with me.”
Emilly says she has been visiting home every Christmas since moving to Zagreb.
“December is summer in Brazil, so I can say I’m lucky person. I have two summers in one year.”
So what advice does she have for foreigners moving to Croatia?
“In the beginning it can be very hard but don’t give up because later this experience will be worthy. Enjoy what Croatia has the best. Enjoy their wine, learn to sit in coffee shops to drink coffee or whatever you want, enjoy the crystal water beaches in summer, walk in their beautiful parks with many leaves on the floor in autumn, have fun in their stunning Christmas Advent in winter and watch the perfect timing bloom of flowers in spring. Say Dobar dan with a great smile in face to your neighbours, they will love. I can guarantee you can be very happy here.”