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 Emir from Tunisia who has made the Croatian capital home…
Name: Emir Driss
Country of origin: Tunisia
How long have you been in Zagreb?
Since November 2011 (4 years)
What brought you to Zagreb?
After the Tunisian revolution in 2011, I was not feeling comfortable at all with the takeover of the power by religious parties. So I decided to come here in Croatia to the country of my mother.
What was the most difficult thing about the shift?
The language was the main difficult thing for adaptation. The other thing was that my diplomas were not recognized by the Croatian government. So it was very difficult to find a job! It wasn’t easy because being a little different was hard to integrate within the locals. Also, making my Croatian papers where a real nightmare and costs me a lot of money in translations, lawyer and other actors that profit from the system.
How do you make your living in Zagreb?
My brother is helping me. Dr. Adel Driss; he is a Geneticist-Biologist specialized in Atlanta, USA. He invested to help me and my friend and collaborator, a Croatian lady, to open a travel agency in Zagreb, Via Globe (www.viaglobe.net). We are a cultural travel agency and we have a lot of original ideas like setting up dog-friendly trips for dog owners. She and her parents helped me a lot too. We are also applying for EU funds to realize some projects like promoting Karlovac as an Ideal city… I also started a project to bring African students but only one faculty accepted to have their courses in English. In addition, I regularly translate things from and to Arabic/English/French/Croatian. My mother Dr. Irena Driss Štimac also helped me a lot for my integration.
3 Favorite things about Zagreb?
1) Zagreb is the most beautiful city I ever saw. It’s a new EU capital and people are very nice and welcoming. Things are growing up every day.
2) There are all kind of events and a lot of activities to do, all what you need is to spend some time to explore the city and spend a little of money for fun.
3) Zagreb is multicultural, multi event and have a lot of secrets hidden places to discover. Also Zagreb is a very safe place day and night!
3 Things you would like to change about Zagreb?
1) Promoting more Zagreb abroad with printing of brochures and other promotional material.
2) Have more English and other languages describing monuments or other informative places and especially in the security system (Police, Fire fighters etc.).
3) Better management of the river Sava and a lot of other resources.
Favourite ‘Croatian’ food?
Seafood is really great but too expensive. Goulash is great too J
I like Medica and other Rakija.
Favourite place to eat?
I like MaliMedo, but I like old traditional places and they are very rare.
All of them are special.
Favorite place to chill out/relax?
I like Zrinjevac. But a lot of other places are cool too!!! Just walking around is a real pleasure.
How are you doing with the language?
The Croatian language is REALLY HARD!!! As I am half Croatian too, I had for free one year of Croaticum in Filozofsky Facultet. But it is not enough. I have to practice a lot and the hardest part is the Padeže.
Biggest cultural difference between Croatia and your home country?
Everything is different. But here people are much nicer and kind. I feel more safe and in a more social life here. There is the religion too, I feel more comfortable when religion is not a pressure.
Is there anything that makes you ‘homesick’?
I miss my parents in Tunisia.
Do you see yourself staying in Croatia?
I see myself staying and rising kids here. It’s a good country to live.
Any tips for anyone looking at making a move?
Yes: Stay social, meet people and don’t stop in front of closed doors. Always push and be active. Invest in learning the language and keep smiling!