Whilst emigration from Croatia has always hugely outweighed Croatian diaspora immigration, there has been a steady stream over the last two decades. In this series, we meet some people who have made the move ‘to the motherland’.
Today we meet Miranda Duvnjak who moved to Croatia from Australia. Miranda was born in Swan Hill and grew up in the suburb of West Sunshine in Melbourne. After attending St. Paul’s Primary school, she went on to Marian College all the way up to year 10. She left Australia after finishing the first term.
Where in Croatia do your roots lie?
My dad is from a village called Studenci near Imotski. My mum is from a village called Zaljut near Vinice, in Bosnia.
Was Croatia a part of your life when you were living in Australia?
Croatia was a big part of my life. My family was always going to gatherings, parties, concerts, soccer games, protests etc…anything that had anything to do with Croatia. As a child, I also went to Croatian school that was held at the Hrvatski Dom in Footscray every Saturday morning.
What made you decide to move and live in Croatia?
My mum was always homesick. Wanting to go back to her motherland. One day she got the courage to bring the whole family back to Croatia. At the time I was almost 16, my sister was 14 and my brother was 10 years old. Because of my age, my mum said to me that it was now or never. That was back in 1998.
What was the reaction from family and friends?
We were all scared of moving halfway around the world. I had only been in Croatia as a kid so I didn’t really remember much about it. My brother and sister had never been before. My friends and family were all shocked that we were really leaving. It all just seemed unreal until we were saying goodbye to everyone at the airport. That’s when I broke down. It finally hit me. I was leaving everyone and everything I knew.
Where are you living now and what are you doing for a living?
I now live in Kaštela, near Split. I have always had jobs working in tourism.
What do you like about the lifestyle in Croatia?
I love living in Croatia because the lifestyle is so easy going. I love how we always make time for coffees with our friends, work is nearby so you don’t waste time travelling to and from work, the beach is just a short walking distance away from where I live and the nightlife during summer is awesome.
We also have amazing beaches and beautiful weather too.
How do you like to chill out in Split?
My way of chilling out is going to the mall, roaming through the city of Split or visiting the beautiful towns nearby, for example, Trogir, Rogoznica, Primošten, Vodice etc…
What do you miss about Australia?
To tell you the truth, there’s really not a lot of things that I miss about Australia. The biggest thing I miss is my family and friends. Most of them do come visit during summer so I am very grateful for that. I also miss the city. I mean Melbourne is huge and there is so much to explore. I can also say that I do miss Tim Tams.
What bit of ‘local’ advice would you give to someone visiting Croatia for the first time – what should they see?
My advice to someone who is visiting Croatia for the first time is to check out small towns along the coast or to visit the islands. I mean you can’t go wrong with any city you visit. Every place has its charm. But the definite musts are the National Park Krka and Plitvice Lakes.
Are you happy you moved? Do you plan to stay?
Even though Croatia still has a lot to work on, I’m glad I came to Croatia. I’m the type of person who always tries to see the good things in everything and make the most of it. I always put family and friends ahead of material things. I love how we always find time to see the people we love and that work and stress don’t take over our lives. I also met my husband here. He is a wonderful person and I am very grateful for that too. I’ve been here for almost 20 years now. I can’t believe it’s already been that long.
What advice would you give to anyone thinking of moving to Croatia to live?
My advice to anyone thinking about moving to Croatia is that you should go ahead and give it a try. If you are able to, try it for a year or two, and see how it goes. Life here is way different to Australia and it is true that you do need time to adjust, but you can never know unless you try it. I think it is much more easier now then when I did 20 years ago. To all of you who are thinking about taking the big step, I wish you the best of luck!
If you have a story about moving to ‘back to the motherland’ which you would like to share then please get in touch by email: [email protected]