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Switching Zagreb for Rochester: Dora’s study abroad experience 

Switching Zagreb for Rochester: Dora’s study abroad experience 

Dora studying on campus at the RIT main campus in Rochester (Photo Credit: RIT Global)

By Angela J. Krčelić, a Chicago Gal and RIT Croatia alumna

Dora Rašin was born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts, by parents who are of Croatian origin. Three years ago, she relocated to Croatia to enroll at RIT Croatia. RIT Croatia opened its first campus 25 years ago in Dubrovnik, being the first global campus of the prominent American university, Rochester Institute of Technology from New York, USA.

By doing this, they opened the doors to both private higher education in Croatia, and to the first U.S. college in Croatia. More than 2,800 students have graduated from both Dubrovnik and Zagreb campuses, and are now developing their careers and setting trends in more than 40 countries worldwide.

There are several benefits to studying at RIT Croatia. One of them is their RIT Global Scholars program. The Global Scholars program enables RIT students to spend 1-2 semesters at one of its campuses around the world. Hence, this program allows RIT Croatia students to have the opportunity to continue their studies in the U.S. or Asia.  

Dora decided to use this opportunity last semester. As she is majoring in international business after earning double minors in management and psychology, she opted for the main campus in Rochester to experience the American college student lifestyle. While spending the fall semester in Rochester meant she missed classic Croatian coffee breaks on the Zagreb campus, she had a great time being a student in the U.S.

Switching Zagreb for Rochester: Dora’s study abroad experience 

Part of the RIT campus, near the housing office

What are the biggest differences between studying at RIT Croatia in Rochester and in Zagreb?

One of the biggest differences between studying in Rochester and in Zagreb is that you live with other RIT students your age. While you can live either on or off campus, I lived on campus because it’s super easy to get to classes, go to the gym, go grocery shopping, hang out with friends, and so much more. The whole campus compared to Rochester is like a city within a city, which is such a cool thing to experience. 

There are also so many clubs and things to get involved in, like sororities, volunteering opportunities in the city, and just fun events planned for students. A skydiving club, alumni visits where they offer career advice, and therapy dogs are just a handful of the events that are available at RIT.

Meal plans and student cafeterias on every corner make it much easier to get food between classes compared to Zagreb, although I have to say Croatian food is better. 

The campus is also much bigger (which makes sense, as there are over 19,000 students). Two of my classes were in auditoriums, which I’ve always wanted to experience in college, as I would always see it in movies and TV shows while growing up. 

While there’s not too much to see in the city in terms of student life, my friends and I took advantage of any days off and long weekends to see a little bit of the U.S, which was so much fun.

What did your average day look like at RIT’s main campus in Rochester?

I started my day by eating breakfast in our apartment since we had a kitchen, which was so convenient. I then got ready and walked for about 5-10 minutes to get to my earliest class. When my class ended at around 12:15 PM, I went back home, talked with my roommates for a little bit, and we would all get lunch together. My next class wasn’t until 3:30 PM, so I had a bit of time to study in the study rooms. After my class, my roommate and I would sometimes get coffee (to keep in touch with Croatian coffee culture, of course) and sit by the fire pit, relaxing for a little bit. Then I would do laundry and some other chores. I might also work a shift as a dishwasher at RIT Dining. On days when I was not working, depending on how much schoolwork I had (and my motivation levels), I would go to the gym at around 8 PM.

Switching Zagreb for Rochester: Dora’s study abroad experience 

Dora (on the left) and her roommates after a successful apartment haul

What are things that surprised you about studying at the main campus?

I was honestly just surprised by the sheer number of things there is to do on campus. Everybody, from fellow students to professors, want you to get involved. It seems every day I walked to my classes, new student-led booths pop up along the way, from food trucks to fraternities hosting ice bucket challenges. 

Do you recommend studying abroad?

Absolutely! If you have the chance to do it, you should, because it gives you the chance to explore so many different places, see what everyday life is like in a different country, make lifelong friends, take new classes, figure out things you like, and all around enrich your life.

Switching Zagreb for Rochester: Dora’s study abroad experience 

Dora (on the left) and her roommate in front of Niagara Falls, which the Global Scholars program took all Global Scholar students to, free of charge

What was the main reason you decided to study abroad?

I wanted to have an American college experience. I always saw how different my experiences were compared to my friends studying in the US regarding classes and student life, so I wanted to see them for myself. I also often miss aspects of American culture while in Croatia, so studying in the US was a great way to reconnect with those aspects, such as celebrating Halloween and Thanksgiving, and some classic fall activities like apple picking. 

What did you miss most about RIT Croatia while being there?

I definitely missed my friends. I found myself reminiscing on all the coffee breaks between classes and making memories. At times I also missed the independence I had in Croatia, just because I felt more like an adult, like having my own apartment.

What have you learned during your experience studying abroad?

I’ve found that it’s mostly up to you to seek out opportunities. There are so many resources at RIT, from career advisors to business clubs, but it’s in your best interest to try and figure out how to balance everything out. See what you like, and what you want to get involved in, and do it! You’re only 21 and studying abroad in Rochester for once in your life, so take full advantage of it.

If you want to learn more about the opportunities RIT offers, tune in to Croatia’s Radio podcast “Study in Croatia”, on February 4th, at 11.30 EST. The radio segment will host representatives from RIT’s global campuses in Croatia and Rochester, NY. 

About RIT Croatia
RIT Croatia (formerly known as ACMT) has been delivering top American degree programs in Croatia since 1997. With its two campuses, in Dubrovnik and Zagreb, this is the only US college in the country and it is the only institution for higher education granting two diplomas to its students – an American diploma, awarded by RIT, and a Croatian diploma, awarded by RIT Croatia. RIT Croatia graduates work all over the world – from the EU countries to Australia and the US. International students come from all over the world but most of them come from the U.S. Some come from the main campus from Rochester, but a lot of Americans come from Croatian Diaspora communities in cities such as San Jose, San Pedro, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, New York, Toronto, Mississauga, Cleveland, and many more. For more information, contact: [email protected]

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