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Studying Abroad

(March 19 2011) Written by: Emily Sowa in Study Abroad

 

Hey! So my name is Emily Sowa, and I am a third year film and animation major. I am a student ambassador and I am currently studying abroad for RIT in Dubrovnik Croatia!

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My first couple weeks so far for the Spring quarter have been amazing! I left from JFK and flew all day from Germany to Zagreb and then to Croatia. A mentor picked me and three other students up at about 10:30 pm and drove us to our new apartments. I was the first to arrive and it was a little weird. I was alone and had no food or any idea where I was. I watched movies and tried to fall asleep but the jet lag threw me off big time! The next day the mentor picked me up and we went to coffee with a few other students and waited around. I had my first meal - pasta…super original…but it was amazing. I got some kuna and money exchanged and then my other three roommates arrived. The first weekend we had orientation at the school with all 39 RIT students. They introduced us to the school and then took us to get cell phones, exchange money, and get bus passes. I bought a phone from T-mobile for $25 american dollars! AWESOME! And it is just so the students here can call and text each other. We got simple plans and its basically a go phone that works anywhere in Europe. Thank god we got them because we had no way to communicate except email when we had WI-FI at home! Saturday night we had some students over to hang out and then we went with our mentor to the biggest club in Dubrovnik called Latino Fuego! It was so fun and they played mostly american hiphop and we all danced the night away.

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These are all the film kids from my major! We go exploring everyday here and try to find cool restaurants and shops. The exchange rate here is 5.5 kuna = $1.00 so its really weird to get used to because dinner will be 130 kuna! YIKES …but that is only about $30. Everything is kind of cheap here but you need to go to the right place. We have been eating out all weekend for each meal because we didn’t make it to a market until Saturday. Our landlord’s daughter, Kiti, was super helpful. She is our age and helped us figure out the bus system which is pretty easy and brought us to the market aka grocery store. It’s weird because all the food looks and is so different. The grocery stores are really small. No targets, walmarts, or wegmans here! :( But it is okay. We need to just find a balance of going out and eating in when we figure out what to make. Kiti also helped me with the converters and plugs which are super hard to figure out. My straightener was smoking so I decided not to use it because I don’t want to burn it out. So she took me to a - what looked like good will - to get a new straightener for cheap so I can just plug it right in because its a european one! I can also use it in Paris! There are no pharmacy/toiletry places here really. There is a small one called DM and its like a CVS minus medicines and hair products. Shopping is minimal here because it is not a huge city so there are not places to buy clothes either. Weird to adjust to but I think I’ll survive!

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We haven’t made it to the green market yet which is an outdoor market for fresh fruits and veggies. We really need to because every single meal I have had so far has been pasta with marinara sauce. Everything is fish here too which gives me a few problems but I am trying to expand my menu and tastes. It’s so windy!!! Our mentor said that this week the raging wind outside is called bura. Bura is a northern mountain wind, so during bura it’s really cold but the sky is completely clear. In Dubrovnik, it’s said that there are 3 big buras in March before spring starts. So take this as a sign of the spring coming :) It’s almost worst than Rochester….except here…. its SUNNY! Jugo is the opposite of bura. A southern wind that brings rain and an overall crappy atmosphere. Right now, the clouds are a consequence of jugo, but the wind is not very strong. It can get as strong as bura and the waves are huge because it blows from the sea. Jugo is said to influence your mood: during the Republic of Dubrovnik their Senate wouldn’t meet during jugo and crimes committed during jugo would be forgiven sometimes because jugo influences your judgement. So if you feel homesick or annoyed, just blame it on the jugo :)

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So Old Town is right near our apartment and is the ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’, situated on the Dalmatian coast, became an important Mediterranean sea power from the 13th century onwards. Although severely damaged by an earthquake in 1667, Dubrovnik managed to preserve its beautiful Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque churches, monasteries, palaces and fountains. It is amazing how old everything is and it’s still standing fine. Walking on the smooth stones is weird when you think about the millions of people who have before done the same! The entire fortress is enclosed and is filled with restaurants and tourist areas. It is awesome.

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We have the BEST deal. Its 10 minute walk from Old Town and the bus stop and 5 minutes away from ACMT - the school! It’s also huge! The main door is outside down near the stairs. There are about 500 steps to get up to our apartment which is considered the “street” and then you unlock the door at the bottom and then we have a whole garden and path up to the house. The house is a family house and we are on the second floor. We have two bedrooms and two bathrooms. All utilities are included and we have a washer but no dryer! AHH clothes lines :) The door to our apartment is an old skeleton key…very cool and we have a balcony with the most amazing view! We lucked out big time and I am paying about a third of what I pay for in Rochester.
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The food here is great! Recently I went to a bakery and picked up iced tea and a apple pastry. They have small bakeries at ever corner! More than donkin donuts in USA! They are really cheap with always fresh rolls, bread, and pastries. I had a delicious one. Yesterday at a bakery I had a “pancake” more like a crepe with nutella, peanuts, and apples in it. They made it fresh infront of me it was awesome! They also have “caffes” on every corner which is a cafe but just for alcohol, wine, and coffee. They LOVE coffee here. I dislike it in the US but they said to try it here because it is from Turkey and much different. I will maybe try one soon. But I love getting tea or a glass of wine. The Croatians drink almost all day! People walk around with beers and everyone is at caffes getting coffee!

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So I love class here. We have film class twice a week and it’s just like at RIT. We will be each producing a film by the end of the quarter and I have some great ideas :) I’m taking adriatic art history class which seems pretty interesting. And we have environmental science class and our teacher is very inspirational. Both classes seem to have some cool field trips planned too! I have class only Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday! TOUGH LIFE :P 

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I will try to post some more everyday or you can follow my personal Croatia blog or ask any questions about study abroad! Thanks!

-Emily

http://emilysowa.tumblr.com/

 

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