Everyday Adventures in Zagreb, Croatia
My name is Marshall Hurst; I grew up in a tiny town named Vineland in Ontario, Canada. You might be wondering, "Where the heck is Vineland?" Vineland is only 17 minutes away from the Lewiston-Queenston Border to the United States. The cultures are pretty similar, just that we follow the metric system, have British-influenced words such as colour with the 'U.' Fascinating, eh?
When I came to RIT, it did not feel too different in terms of my home to Rochester, but one significant thing was the massive Deaf community there is in Rochester. As the years went by, I felt something was missing, a brand new experience … so I decided to study abroad after a lot of encouragement from my friends and family members. I went to Zagreb, Croatia with two of my best friends, Noah and Joey. I had a couple of friends who went abroad to Zagreb the year before, so they gave us tips, advice, and ideas of what to expect in Zagreb. However, I told myself to expect absolutely nothing and went to Zagreb with a fresh mind and go with the flow attitude. I learned that I am instead a Type A person who likes everything in my way, but I also learned that it is excellent to go with the flow sometimes and enjoy life as it goes by - I learned that in the first weeks of living in Zagreb and adopted that mindset as the semester went on. I learned and developed my passion for travel, which resulted in me working abroad on the other side of the world in Sydney, Australia, around 16,000 miles away from home. Ever since my passion for travel has always been there, and I am glad I learned about my passion when studying abroad, as it will continue for the rest of my life.
In September 2017, we decided to go to Mt. Medvednica, the mountain right above Zagreb. We hiked to the top with beautiful views of Zagreb and, in the distance, Slovenia. We went to this small, quaint restaurant on top of the mountain and met a new friend, a 55-year old man who holds the world record for the most extended time skiing backward from the top to bottom of the mountain. This man knew no English, but we understood him through gestures, which is a big part of our daily lives as Deaf people. I am mentioning this person because he highly suggested to us to eat a specific meal by pointing at the name on the menu. What was the meal may you ask? Horse meat. Yes, I said horse meat. We were all thrown off because that is something you never find at home. We all tried it because, first of all, why not and the man highly suggested we try it. We figured it would be a great experience by tasting it. We all ordered it and ate it, which was an interesting taste - similar to a steak but more sturdy. We would have never gotten a chance to taste horse meat if we never met the man. This was one of the significant experiences of our time in Zagreb.
Before, during, and after my time in Zagreb, Croatia has truly meant a lot to me. Three years after the experience and I still think about it every day. Our daily life of waking up, eating breakfast, getting coffee from a small shop on the way to school where we often walked to, is a life I truly miss. Studying abroad made us feel so free; we did not have to worry about anything, and we could enjoy our lives in Southeastern Europe. After the semester finished and we all flew back home, we all looked back on the semester, and we all thought, "What the heck of a semester!" It was full of life-changing experiences - experiences that we all still cherish to this day.
Marshall Hurst is a graduate student studying Business Administration in the Saunders College of Business and studied abroad in Zagreb, Croatia in fall of 2017 and in Sydney, Australia in summer of 2019.