My friends and family were taken aback by my choice when they first learned I was going abroad in Croatia.
Many people expected me to pick London, Barcelona, or Rome as Dubrovnik is not the first study abroad location that comes to mind. Even I was wondering why I decided to pick a relatively obscure location at first. After three weeks in the “pearl of the Adriatic,” I know I made the right decision.
Our program is small. 18 students decided to go abroad to Dubrovnik this semester. We all took a risk by going to a country most people are not familiar with, but this risk was worth the reward. Dubrovnik offers a historic Old Town, rich with remnants of the ancient Kingdoms that have ruled over present-day Croatia. In addition, the city has memories of the Home Land War that resulted in Croatian independence in the early 1990’s. Walking around the Old Town, shrapnel scars in the stone pathways and buildings from the war remind visitors of the rich history Dubrovnik possesses. The clear water of the Adriatic laps gently against the towering city walls. It’s a stark reminder that I am no longer in Boston where, although many take pride in it, dirty water looms.
Dubrovnik is also the perfect city to explore for Game of Thrones fans. Many scenes from the television show were filmed in the city.
From Cersei Lannister’s walk of atonement to the House of the Undying; King’s Landing to the Red Keep and many more familiar settings all find their origin in Dubrovnik. Last weekend we travelled three hours north to the coastal town of Split, Croatia. Many other Game of Thrones scenes were filmed here. Split’s beautiful Riva offers locals and tourists a place to sit and drink their coffee as they watch the water of the Adriatic dance before them. Croatians love to drink their coffee for hours and chat with friends as they bask in the warm comfort of the coastal sun. Split’s ancient palace, which is eerily familiar to Dubrovnik’s Old Town, offers a glimpse into ancient Roman rule in Croatia.
Although the scenery is breathtaking, what truly has made my abroad experience so wonderful is the people I’ve met.
Our excellent resident directors, Ivana and Nada, are here to guide us through the whole experience. They’re teaching us what it is like to live in Dubrovnik. Our academic advisor at Libertas International University, Iva, is experienced in all things study abroad. She treats us as if she has been our advisor for the entirety of our college experience. The native Croatian classmates we have met in class are all very welcoming and willing to share insider tips on how to best get to know and navigate their home country.
More than anything, the people in the API Dubrovnik program have enriched my experience in ways I could have never imagined. The small program has allowed me to get to know everyone very personally. In such a short time we’ve developed friendships that will last way beyond our time abroad. Studying abroad is a once in a lifetime experience and studying in Dubrovnik has been one of the greatest choices I have made to date. It is only the beginning.