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Meet Valeria Teo Who Swapped Hong Kong for Split

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In our new feature ‘Word on the Street…Foreigners who made Croatia home’ – we will be meeting those people who have decided to move and make a new life in Croatia…

We will find out from them 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 writer and a travel planner Valeria Teo. Valeria, who has visited nearly 30 countries since 1992, first came to Croatia in 2007 where she met her Croatian husband. Valeria has published two Chinese novel sets in Croatia and a collection of Chinese essays. Beside being a regular blogger for the Hong Kong travel site UTravel and GOtrip, she writes for various organizations and online publications, in both English and Chinese.

Having appeared in two Hong Kong on-line radio travel programmes featuring Croatia, Valeria was also consulted by one Taiwanese and one Hong Kong TV station for shooting travel programmes in and around Croatia. ~

Her particular connection with Croatia has led her to create Croatia Independent Travellers (www.croatia.com.hk) with two partners. The on-line platform specializes in travel planning and custom-made tours for those who want to create unforgettable travel experiences of their own. Croatia Independent Travellers was re-branded as Croatia Travel in autumn 2015 after the Croatian Destination Management Company ATI d.o.o. from Pula has become the parent company. Valeria continues to work as a consultant for Croatia Travel and promote Croatia to the Chinese speaking communities. The Chinese guide-book on Croatia Valeria co-authored with Justin Chan and another travel writer was published in June 2015.

We ask Valeria a few questions.

Country of origin:

Hong Kong

How long have you been in Split?

Nearly 5 years, I came to live in Split in Jan. 2011.

Valeria (L) in Split

Valeria (L) in Split

What bought you to Split?

My husband and I were married in 2008 and we were flying between Split and Hong Kong all the time. We decided to settle down to have kids and as a real family. So I moved to Split.

Was was the most difficult thing about the shift?

The language was of course the first obstacle. We are also a lone family here. My husband’s families live in other cities. My husband is not home 3-4 months every time he works. I have to do everything by myself then. But I’m fortunate to have really good neighbours.

How do you make your living in Split?

I’m still figuring it out as it’s really, really difficult to get a job here! So I’m dependent on my husband. Haha.

3 Favourite things about Split?

The love for sport, especially football, is gorgeous. Friendly people and nice environment.

Football fan Valeria watch Hajduk Split with husband Josip featured in local media

Football fan Valeria watch Hajduk Split with husband Josip featured in local media

3 Things you would like to change about Split?

The creative but illegal parking, bureaucracy and I’ll come up with the third one when it appears.

Favourite ‘Croatian’ food?

Tripice, grilled lamb (kliška janjetina), kulen

Favourite drink?

Coffee, blackberry wine (kupinovo vino) and Prošek

Favourite place to eat?

my friends’ home as they are really wonderful cooks

Favourite bar/club?

I don’t really go clubbing. So no idea about that. I do have a favourite kafić: Teak. (also the first cafe I had coffee with my husband)

Favourite place to chill out/relax?

Bačvice and Marjan

How are you going with the language?

I can manage some basic conversation. I learnt the language “on the streets”, so to speak, until recently when I finally have time for lessons with a private tutor. But the grammar and some crazy pronunciations in the language are driving me nuts all the time.

Biggest cultural difference between Croatia and your home country?

It’s really difficult to sum it up in one thing. In a very oversimplified version: Hong Kong is about efficiency and everything has to be fast. Croatia, maybe Split in particular, is about relaxation and “sve ide polako” (Or like people in Split say it “pomalo”.)

Valeria and Josip

Valeria and Josip

Is there anything that makes you ‘homesick’?

Food, not just Chinese but all kinds of cuisines so easily found in Hong Kong.

Do you see yourself staying in Croatia?

100%

Any tips for anyone looking at making a move?

Find some ways to support your living without the need to get a job in Croatia, e.g. freelancing or having a business of your own. After that, just enjoy life here.

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