Student Spotlight: An interview with Sonja Armbrecht, a first-year international business major, and Petar Kleskovic, second-year web and mobile computing major, from RIT Croatia.
Sonja Armbrecht and Petar Kleskovic have traveled from Croatia to visit RIT’s Rochester campus for Imagine RIT: Innovation and Creativity Festival. Armbrecht, a first-year international business student from Zagreb, Croatia, and Bonn, Germany, and Kleskovic, a second-year web and mobile computing major from Dubrovnik, Croatia, are two of four students who were selected to represent the Dubrovnik and Zagreb campuses at Imagine. Being able to spend a week in a new country and on a new campus, Armbrecht and Kleskovic have been excited to experience American life and live out their American High School Musical dream.
Armbrecht is a part of the investment club at the Zagreb campus and her dream job when she graduates is to open a tea shop with her mom because they both love to bake. Kleskovic is the head of the game club at the Dubrovnik campus and hopes to move to the States, Japan or South Korea and work in IT services once he graduates.
Question: What was your reaction when you found out you had been chosen to visit the Rochester campus for Imagine RIT?
Armbrecht: I was completely surprised. Going into the interview, I thought that it probably wasn’t going to me, but I thought that it would still be fun to try. Afterwards, all the people who had interviewed went out for coffee. While we were there, the first boy who interviewed got an email saying that he wasn’t selected. So, the other girl and I just looked at each other wondering who it was going to be. Then she got the email that she didn’t get it, so then I knew that it was me and I couldn’t believe it. I was convinced the other girl was going to get it and I was so happy that it was actually me who got selected. I’m worried about all my exams waiting for me back home, but I’m having fun.
Q: What would you say is the biggest difference between the Rochester campus and your campus?
Armbrecht: This campus is obviously much bigger, but I think one of the biggest differences is that you have so many opportunities for elective subjects here, which we, unfortunately, don’t. I went to a public speaking class the other day while I was here and it was lovely and so entertaining. You also have so many more clubs than we do. In Zagreb, I think the only proper club we have is the investment club. It makes sense that you have more because the campus is so much bigger and there are so many students, and seeing all of these opportunities was really interesting. I do have to say, there is a very important similarity. There are a lot of long hallways and staircases. On our first day when we were touring, that’s the only thing that we kept mentioning. And the bricks!
Kleskovic: To speak on the bricks, I thought “Brick City” was kind of a joke at first, but when our plane flew in and I saw the big brick patch out my window and said ‘That’s it! That’s RIT.’ To your question, the biggest difference between the campuses is, of course, the size. One thing that I really like about this campus is that it’s big with a lot of students, and yet it’s so cozy. Everything is next to each other and everything is within walking distance as far as we have seen, and that’s amazing for us. In Dubrovnik, we walk a lot. Everything is stairs, stairs, stairs, a hallway, and more stairs, but when I come here it’s different. At my campus, we have to take a bus to the gym, and here you have an amazing gym within walking distance. Another difference is your coffee is not as good as ours. Sorry, but we don’t drink the same kind of coffee.
Q: What were you most excited to do once you got here?
Kleskovic: I really wanted to see the whole university atmosphere in the USA and American life in general because we just see it in movies. When we came here it’s so different from Croatia and it’s so similar to the movies. I can’t even explain it. Yesterday, I was sitting in front of the hotel and I just thought, ‘My God, I’m in the USA.’ When I was a kid I watched One Tree Hill, and looking around I was like, ‘This is exactly the same!’ I’m also really looking forward to seeing cinema here. We are going to go see a movie at Tinseltown. The next time I come here I would love to go see one of those outdoor movies, where you sit in your car and just watch the movie. We have open air theaters in Croatia, but it’s around restaurants and it’s really crowded, so I think it would be different here.
Q: What is the benefit of traveling to see a new country and a new campus?
Kleskovic: First of all, it’s a good reference on my CV, if I’m being honest. The second thing is being able to get the firsthand experience of how it is to study here in Rochester. I feel now that if I can scrape my money in any way possible, I would like to come here for even just one semester. I think the stuff I can learn here, absorb here and experience here would be really beneficial for my career. It puts you out of your comfort zone. I think if students from Rochester were to come to Croatia and our campus they would benefit as well. We have a different way of life.
Q: If a student from the Rochester campus was to travel and visit your campus, what are some things you think they should see?
Armbrecht: Most definitely see the coffee shops around the campus because that’s very important for us. In Croatia, you drink one coffee for two hours, it’s a typical thing. A lot of the parks are really beautiful, too. What’s really good about Croatia is that it’s quite small so you can travel down to the seaside really easily, and that’s a great thing to do. There’s a whole street in the main square of Zagreb where there’s loads of coffee shops and bars and things like that, so I would definitely just recommend walking around and seeing what is there. Sometimes there are light shows and museums which are really interesting.
This interview was written by Felicia Swartzenberg and published by University News on April 27, 2018. You can view the original article here.