A Croatian Thanksgiving

A Croatian Thanksgiving

I know that I haven’t posted in a while. The truth is, I just got so busy with school work and assignments and getting in some “must-dos” before my time in Dubrovnik comes to an end.

Since my last post, I have hiked Mt. Srd (pronounced Surg). The views down onto Dubrovnik were incredible. On the day we went, it was a bit foggy, so I am hoping to make the hike once more before we leave. I also went to Rome, Italy for four days. Seeing the historic landmarks that I have learned about since grade school was amazing.

Thanksgiving just passed, and it was the weirdest experience for me. We had class on Thanksgiving. So, for the first time in my 16 years in school, I had to attend on Thanksgiving Day. It didn’t feel like Thanksgiving, but everyone’s social media posts from home made it a little bit more real. I was able to Facetime with my family back home, which I am grateful for. I am so used to the weather being so much cooler back home during late November, so to me, it still feels like early October because it is still so beautiful in Dubrovnik.

Me and my roommates hosted an “American Thanksgiving” on Saturday, when we didn’t have class. Two other American students studying in Dubrovnik came to the dinner. We had a lot of fun preparing the food and appetizers, finding substitutes for the ingredients we would normally use at home.

We had a bunch of appetizers, and as we were halfway through cooking the dinner, we lost power to the stove and all the lights in the apartment. It was already dark outside. We lost the corn and gravy, but still had turkey and stuffing and mashed potatoes, and we sat and ate in the dark. That will definitely be a memory I will have with me forever. We all made the best of the situation, especially “head chef” Michelle. This years Croatian Thanksgiving was certainly one for the books.

After dinner, we were all in the typical food coma, but we played some cards and games and all laughed and had a great time.

I will end with what I am thankful for; it seems fitting…

I am thankful for this wonderful opportunity to travel the world and immerse myself in another culture. I am thankful for the great friends I came to Dubrovnik with, and the ones that I have made along the way. I am thankful for my family back home who supports me in everything I do. I am thankful for a life-changing year.

I come home in three weeks from today. My time in Dubrovnik has certainly flew by. I look forward to making the most of the next 21 days here. The Christmas Festival in Dubrovnik has officially started, so I  am excited to experience the holiday season here. And, I look forward to seeing all my family and loved ones back home soon.

I will post 2-3 times more in Dubrovnik, but my posts will continue (although, less frequently) after I return home. As always, thank you for reading and taking this journey with me!

XOXO Sarah

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Why don’t U.S. students Study Abroad??

Why don’t U.S. students Study Abroad??

I read a pretty shocking statistic last week. Only 1 % of all US students participate in a study abroad program. This really was surprising to me. I thought it was more of a natural thing to do while in school. It seems like everyone talks about studying abroad, so how do only 1% of students actually participate in an abroad experience?

Other countries, such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, are making significant efforts to get their students to colleges that are abroad, such as American colleges. The funding that is provided to the students coming to America is incredible. This is a good thing for the American students, because if they are not getting exposure to other cultures through a study abroad, they are at least having an increased diversity in their home schools while on campus.

The U.S. doesn’t push for us to leave like these other countries do. There is very little funding dedicated solely to students studying abroad, but one program, the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship through the Institute for International Education , has helped many students go abroad, including me! There are other foundations helping students go abroad, too. But these scholarships don’t come close to the efforts put in by other countries.

The good news is that while there are not many scholarships directed towards study abroad, there are countless scholarships for you to put towards your tuition, so you can save your personal funds to study abroad with. Simply doing a Google search with your interests or major could help you find these types of scholarships. I have received countless scholarships through private organizations

So the question is, why are US students not studying abroad? Is it because of costs? Do they think they can’t get credit? Or won’t graduate on time? Or is there simply not a desire to go? I think that there needs to be a bigger push to send American students abroad. The things that I have learned about myself, other cultures, and perceptions in the three months that I have been gone are immeasurable.

If you want to read more about study abroad statistics, check out http://www.usnews.com/news/blogs/data-mine/2014/11/17/how-studying-abroad-has-changed-in-the-last-decade

In other news, we had the most gorgeous sunset in Dubrovnik this week. Just thought I would share it with you all 🙂


XOXO Sarah

When tourism is bad…

When tourism is bad…

I would have never thought that tourism could ever possibly be a bad thing. Last spring semester I took a course that analyzed the dynamics of tourism from an objective view (any other tourism class I had taken was taught by the Hospitality Department) but this course was taught by a professor in the Anthropology department. She tried to convince us (mostly all hospitality students) that tourism is exploitative, bad, and could bring harm to entire areas. I did not really think this was at all possible. But now, I am beginning to think my mindset is shifting (slightly).

While I don’t ever want tourism to be a bad thing (for the sake of my job outlook!) it has become apparent that Dubrovnik is simply exhausted from the tourists. Before I came over, everyone talked about the “high-season” in Dubrovnik, the time when most of the tourists come and flock the main street of Stradun, and when the locals stay in their homes. This season used to only be from May-September (at the very latest). I came to Dubrovnik with this understanding; that most restaurants and tourists shops would either close or have limited hours come late September. I had even heard it from the locals.

But then the end of September came and went, and nothing changed. The city was as busy as ever. I thought maybe the tourists would stop coming in October. But here it is, November 4th, and there are still massive cruise ships in port and tour buses visiting the city. The city is definitely less busy than before, but there are still tourists everywhere.  On November 1st some restaurants and shops just closed their doors, but very few. 90% of the shops are still open, so I started asking shop owners and workers when they will be closing for the season, and most are staying open through mid-December.

The local people used to work so hard from May through September and make enough money to live off of the rest of the months without working, or doing minimal work. Now, these people are forced to work much longer, with virtually no break at all. This is why I think tourism has had a negative impact on the locals of Dubrovnik.

The mass tourism that Dubrovnik has seen in recent years have consistently broken records each year in a row. This year, they had a record breaking number of visitors climb the UNESCO protected walls of Dubrovnik. This means that these walls that are centuries old are being eroded at a much higher rate year after year, and more repairs and maintenance is needed in order to preserve them.

Most of the visitors in Dubrovnik are from cruise ships, and only have hours in the city. They are not contributing much to the local economy. Other visitors are only staying on average 2 and a half days, not contributing significantly to the local economy either.

While the tourists create garbage, human waste, erode the historic city faster, and exhaust the employees, they are creating a bad rep for tourism. This is why tourism can be bad. BUT, that doesn’t mean that Dubrovnik is not a beautiful and amazing place to visit. By becoming a smarter tourist, we can create ways to educate tourists and invent new sustainable tourism activities.

As always, thanks for reading!

XOXO Sarah

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