Inside the Life of Studying Abroad at RIT Croatia

Inside the Life of Studying Abroad at RIT Croatia

RIT Croatia, formerly known as the American College of Management and Technology, is one of the global campuses of RIT. RIT Croatia actually has two separate campuses; one in the coastal city of Dubrovnik and on in the capital of Croatia, Zagreb.

There are three programs available at RIT Croatia: Hospitality and Tourism Management Program at Dubrovnik, International Business at Zagreb. Web and Mobile Computing/IT for both Dubrovnik and Zagreb, and a Master of Science program in Service Leadership and Innovation Zagreb. If you earn a degree at RIT Croatia, you will also get an American BS degree from RIT.

RIT’s campus across the sea in Croatia is a mystery to many. Most students know of RIT Croatia, but not exactly what it’s like to go there. Behind the Bricks talked to a few students that have attended both campuses to compare and contrast the student life:

Connor is a current student in Rochester, who attended RIT Croatia (Dubrovnik) in Fall 2017. He is a Hospitality and Tourism major.

Kasey is a current student in Rochester. He attended RIT Croatia (Zagreb) in Spring 2017. He is a Management major.

Gabi is a current student in Rochester. She attended RIT Croatia (Zagreb) in Summer 2018. She is a Computational Mathematics major.

Andrea is a current student in Croatia (Dubrovnik). She attended RIT (Rochester) for one year in Fall 2017 Spring 2018. She is a Hospitality and Tourism Management major.

Why did you choose to study abroad in Croatia/Rochester?

Kasey: My freshman year my professor, Zhi Tang, had mentioned he was organizing a unique study abroad program in Croatia. The more I looked into it and the scenery and culture of Croatia, the more I fell in love! I’d decided on going on the program before the program was even officially announced!

Andrea: I was honored my freshmen year to be sent to the Rochester campus as an RIT Croatia representative for an annual event organized by the Hospitality and Tourism Management department. I fell in love with the campus environment and the people and decided I will come back to spend at least a semester there, and so I did!

What are the differences between the two campus?

Gabi: The Zagreb RIT campus is much bigger the RIT Croatia, but there is a lot more surrounding Croatia’s campus so it didn’t feel small.  It was also easy to walk to places, since everything was so close together.

Andrea: Croatian campus in Dubrovnik is really small, cozy and beautiful. Everybody knows everybody and we are honestly like one big family, living in a big house with the best view in town. Rochester on the other hand is like a small town on its own. There are so many clubs and extracurricular activities, classes are bigger, you eat, sleep and study at the same place, and what I liked most – so many different people from all over the world!

Can you give me a general description of the Croatia campuses? What do they look like? What is the environment like?

Connor: RIT Croatia in Dubrovnik is just one small building just outside the city walls. Easy to be accessible by walking and bus. The environment around the campus feels like you’re already on vacation!

Kasey: Zagreb is the economic center of not only Croatia, but much of the Balkans region. It’s a busy city in an otherwise peaceful and relaxed area. The campus sits in Nova Zagreb – “New Zagreb.” It’s a little further away from the older parts of the city, but extremely easily accessible by bus and Uber for extremely cheap fares. The campus is all on the bottom floor of a large office, shopping and dining complex. It has a small lounge area in the front and back, a computer lab or two, a gym in the back, a conference room and some classrooms. Administrative offices are all clustered to the rear of the building, out of the way from the academic end. Dubrovnik is a smaller, resort town. There’s a lot of fun to be had and sunshine to soak in. It’s in an older building within walking distance of Pile – the “Old Town.” This campus is smaller in area, but has multiple floors in the building. I only visited for the weekend, so I didn’t see much. The views from the campus are amazing, though!

Where was your favorite spot to hang out in Rochester? Croatia?

Kasey: In Dubrovnik, the best place to hang out, strangely enough, is the parking lot for the campus. From RIT’s parking lot, you get one of the best views of the city. It sits atop the cliffs and looks out over the Adriatic.

In Zagreb, there’s a little bistro next door to the campus called Bamboo. They served really good pizzas, great coffee and some good drinks. We would always have a break during our classes and the entire class, professor included, would go to Bamboo and hang out. We’d sip coffee and talk – it was a really friendly atmosphere.

In Rochester, I’m always found in the Reporter office in the basement of the Campus Center. Working for Reporter, it’s a great “home base” of sorts. It’s quiet when people are working, but fun and loud when people aren’t. It’s a good mix. If I’m not in Reporter, I’m usually in Saunders, either in the Slarsky Center with the lab computers or the lounge with really comfy couches.

Andrea: My favorite sport to hang out at RIT was probably Global Village. I lived there, together with 5 other awesome people, and our favorite thing to do was occupy the conference room in GV 400 for studying purposes and we would encourage each other to get things done, watch movies, play games, and just chill. Besides that, as I was an athlete for RIT Crew, the Gosnell Boathouse was like a home away from home, and I loved every second spent there, either on land or on the water. In Croatia, on campus, I love the SG Office cause we have students coming in and out to chill between classes and talk to us all the time so I get to meet new people constantly. Outside the campus, I like the area where I live that’s called Lapad. It’s by the sea, with the prettiest sunset that looks like a Bob Ross painting, and it has a beautiful walking trail that is great to calm down and rejuvenate.

Student Government office

Are the classes in Croatia similar to the classics in Rochester?

Kasey: RIT Croatia is still RIT. The classes are all structured in the same way they are in Rochester. They’re taught in English by RIT professors and assignments are valued and graded in a very similar manner. It’s honestly the most seamless transition someone could possibly have on a study abroad program.

Andrea: Rochester has a lot more classes to offer in terms of general education and classes not related to your specific major. Besides that, classes are a lot bigger in terms of amount of people attending a lecture, which was probably the biggest difference I experienced. Classes in Croatia, on the other hand, are more… intimate. Professors usually know the students, and we know each other. This makes group projects a lot easier to get done, while RIT classes are more challenging in that sense. In terms of professors, I equally appreciate and respect all of them, as I had great experience on both campuses.

What do students do off campus or in their free time in Croatia?

Gabi: We would go out to eat or look at the sights around our apartment.  Every week there would be something new at the main park, some of my favorites were the dessert festival and soccer festival.   I went there when Croatia was in the World Cup, so everyone was very excited during the viewing party. We also went to museums and antique markets.  This included the Museum of Broken Relationships and the Museum of Optical Illusions. Overall it was fun just to walk around and see the architecture of the city.

Flower Festival held next to RIT

Andrea: Drink coffee. Not kidding, Croatia has a huge sit-down, coffee-drinking culture. We don’t have drive-through, and most places don’t have coffee to go. You come into the coffee shop and drink one cup of coffee for hours, talking about everything and anything. Besides that, we like to enjoy fresh air, seaside and sunshine, so we like to spend as much time outside as possible, hanging out, playing sports, walking, hiking.

Plitvice National Park
Pula Arena

Which of the two Croatia campus’ is your favorite?

Connor: Dubrovnik is my favorite campus, unfortunately I didn’t get the chance to see the campus in Zagreb. But the Zagreb campus don’t have the beaches behind the school buildings!  

Kasey: I would always recommend students study in Zagreb. The city may not look as appealing on the brochures, but you have to look a little deeper. Zagreb is a bigger city, four times the size of Rochester. It’s the heart of the region and there’s always so much to do and see. You have so many options in Zagreb that you’d never get bored and, if you do, it’s also extremely easy to fly or take a bus from Zagreb to both the smaller cities in Croatia (Split, Zadar and Dubrovnik), as well as other major European cities (Vienna, Rome, Athens, Munich, etc.). Zagreb never sleep and has all the connections to the rest of the region. Dubrovnik is a beautiful place to visit and is honestly one of my favorite cities in the world, but you would run out of things to do if you stayed there the full semester. My friends who have studied in Dubrovnik spent half of their time traveling just to stay busy – not that that’s a bad thing.

If you could redo one thing about your experience, what would it be?

Gabi: It is tough to think of something to redo.  I believe that I had a very successful trip and that I had enough time to accomplish all that I wanted.  I made amazing friends bonding over the new traveling experience. I got to try amazing food that I wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else.  Also, I got to travel to so many places including Pula, Split, and Zadar. If there was one think I could change, is that I wish I had another day at the Plitvice Lakes.  When we went it was raining so a lot of the paths were flooded and we couldn’t explore the entire park. It would have been nice to take more time there to look at the beautiful landscape.

Andrea: I would absolutely not change a thing. I am very grateful to have had both experiences, at RIT Croatia and studying abroad in Rochester. I believe those are the two best decisions I have made in my life so far, as the RIT community and the style of teaching, which is very different from other Croatian and European Universities, have really prepared me for what’s waiting for me in the professional field after I graduate. I have also had the opportunity to meet awesome people and friends, on both campuses, that I am truly honored to consider my chosen family and I am very grateful to have them in my life.

What did your day-to-day routine look like?

Gabi: I would stop at a bakery on my way to class and take a bus, which was a five minute ride.  Then we would normally have two classes in a day with an hour break in between for lunch. After class we would go out for dinner and walk around Zagreb.  We would try to visit new museums or gardens, or we would just walk around the city.

Kasey: The day-to-day life in Zagreb is extremely similar to that of the U.S. You wake up, get ready and head to class. We took a bus to our classes and typically stopped by a bakery for breakfast – they sold more than just sweets. Otherwise, it was very similar. We’d eat downtown in different bistros, restaurants and pubs and there were enough places that we rarely went to the same place twice. All for an amazingly affordable price.

What extracurriculars were popular in Croatia? What did you become involved in?

Connor: Walking around the city walls, swim in the ocean, game of thrones tour, trying local Croatian cuisines. I become very involved with meeting up with Croatian students to for a coffee or drink

Andrea: I am currently a Vice President of Student Government, for which I have been a member of for the past 4 years. I am also a member of Eta Sigma Delta, an honorary hospitality society, and a member of International Students Club. This year, through the help of RIT and Dubai SG, and some awesome study abroad students, we started a No Voice Zone on our campus, and a small group of students actually continued it on our own, so that’s been a super cool way to spend a Friday afternoon. Besides that, our campus has some sport clubs such as Volleyball, Basketball and Soccer, as well as Gaming Club. We are a small campus so we don’t come nowhere near the number of extracurricular offered at RIT, but what we have is enough for our students to make the most of their college experience, and everyone is welcome to start a club on their own if they wanted to!

What do your duties at a Global Ambassador include? Why did you decide to become one?  

Gabi: Global ambassadors promote studying abroad to RIT students.  I get to talk about my experience abroad to spread awareness for the programs RIT has to offer and help those who are planning to travel.  It helps people understand what to expect as a student in a new country and it gives them a chance to ask questions. I decided to become a global ambassador because I loved my time abroad and I want to be able to share my experiences to help prepare them to go on their own adventure.

Andrea: The biggest responsibility of the GA is to promote the study abroad program. The GAs have been around the RIT campus for some time now, but this is the first time we have something like that on our campus, so we have been experimenting with the duties and activities of the job role. I accepted the position because studying abroad has truly been a life changing experience for me, and I wanted to tell my colleagues about all the awesome opportunities RIT has to offer, and inspire them to step out of their comfort zone and do something different and good for themselves. Because I have been through the process, I help students with their program and visa application, as well as give them advice and what not and what to do, and some inside tips and tricks that the administration wouldn’t know, but I personally wish I knew before going. Overall, it has been a great experience, and I absolutely love that job because it allows me to stay in touch with awesome people from RIT Global in Rochester, and I get to help my friends make the most out of their study abroad experience.

Interested in studying abroad in Croatia? Visit the RIT Study Abroad website (https://www.rit.edu/academicaffairs/global/study-abroad).

Shayna is a Graphic Design major and is pursuing a minor in Advertising and PR. Outside of writing for Behind the Bricks, Shayna binge watches Netflix and plays on the RIT Women’s Tennis Team.

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