Emigration from Croatia has always hugely outweighed Croatian diaspora immigration, but there has been a steady stream the other way over the last two decades.
In this series, we meet some people who have made the move ‘to the motherland’. Today we meet Doris Baric from Switzerland.
Doris, whose parents are from Travnik in Bosnia and Herzegovina, was born in Switzerland but five years ago moved to live in Croatia.
Was Croatian culture a part of your life when you were living in Switzerland?
Yes, it was. My family was very active in Croatian folklore and sports clubs, and we visited Croatia at least once a year.
Had you been to Croatia before and what made you decide to move and live in Croatia?
During my childhood, we spent the summer holidays always in Crikvenica and after one of my sisters got married to a captain 15 years ago, I started to visit her more often. They have a successful tourism business called Glasskatamaran Mali Marino, organizing tourist and school excursions, as well as teambuilding events and weddings; so I helped them out a lot and fell in love especially with the natural beauty, the rich historical past of the country and the music.
I always wanted to move abroad and after finishing secondary school in Switzerland, I decided to do it and study tourism and hotel management. I almost went to Austria or Italy, but a friend of mine encouraged me to try it in Croatia as well. After I got accepted at an international university in Zagreb in 2012, I wanted to give it a try and the city made me feel so much at home that I decided to stay here.
What was the reaction from friends and family?
My friends in Croatia were all very supportive, as well as those in Switzerland, although they were a bit sad that I was moving abroad. My family is still struggling to accept my decision, but they support me as much as they can.
Where are you living and what are you doing at the moment in Croatia?
I am living in Zagreb and are currently a freelance tour guide and photographer. But I am planning to open my own business soon, so I can combine my experiences in tourism, as well as my passion for writing and photography. For over two years now, my focus has been shifting towards graffiti and street art, so I launched a photo blog about the local scene here in Zagreb.
Being fascinated especially by the socio-cultural, historical and political aspects of this subculture, I recently started to write a book about it as well, and last year I became the first graffiti hunter from Croatia for a worldwide and unique photo project called Street Art Cities.
What do you like about the lifestyle in Croatia?
The spontaneity. Although I had difficulties to adapt myself to it at the beginning, today I really cherish the fact that you hardly ever plan things in advance. For instance, it so often happens that I meet up with friends for a cup of coffee and a short chat in the afternoon, and we end up somewhere completely different later that night.
How do you chill out?
I love walking my dog along the Sava River or hang out in one of the numerous little parks, while during the weekends I meet up with friends or visit exhibitions and events.
What 3 things do you miss about Switzerland?
My friends, those buttered pretzels they sold at the public swimming pool in my home village and the railways.
What is your favourite place in Croatia?
Although I love spending time on the coast, I really fell in love with Zagreb and its buzzing nightlife. It is big enough to have a great time and do every day something different, but still small enough so you bump into somebody you know wherever you go.
Are you happy you moved? Do you plan to stay?
Even though it is still sometimes difficult, especially if you want to find the right people to do any kind of business with, I do not regret it a bit, and I hope to stay as long as it takes to buy myself a boat and sail to all of the 1244 islands.
What advice would you give to anyone thinking of moving to Croatia to live?
I think it is very helpful if you already know some locals or have family members here, who can help you to deal with all the paperwork. Because the bureaucracy can get very exhausting, even if you have the Croatian citizenship and speak the language. But it is such a beautiful country with so much potential, so it is definitely worth any risk!
If you have a story about moving to Croatia which you would like to share then please get in touch by email: [email protected]