• John Gratto

February 7, 2022-Meeting my Croatian Counterpart

February 7, 2022-Meeting my Croatian Counterpart

Today I met with Rozana, my key contact from the University of Zadar. She has been communicating with me and providing me with advice since I first began the application process in 2019. I had asked to meet with her to clarify my responsibilities.

Expecting to meet at her office, I had emailed her and inquired about her office number and building. In the previous few days, I had walked around the university several times and thought I might be able to find her office.

But, I forgot about the coffee culture in Croatia. Before coming here, I read an interesting book entitled, “Chasing a Croatian Girl.” In it, the author, from Oklahoma, fills the chapters with his perspectives on the many cultural differences between the U.S. and Croatia. One of the main ones is that Croatians greatly enjoy coffee. There are coffee shops here about every 300 feet.

It might be more accurate to say that Croatians enjoy slowly drinking coffee and devoting full attention to their coffee mates. A few coffee shops advertise “grab and go” coffee. But it is much more common that people will have a cup of coffee for an hour or more and leisurely converse.

So, rather than meeting at Rozana’s office, she recommended that we meet in People’s Square and go to a nearby coffee shop. We spent an hour at nearby “Coffee and Cake” discussing her roles at the university, her department, their current ongoing accreditation process, an upcoming major conference that she is playing an integral role in planning, and how I might contribute.

A related note: Over the week between Christmas and New Year’s, I saw a number of Facebook posts from Rozana at various sites in New York City. When I asked her how she enjoyed her time there, she said that she liked it, especially the Broadway play about Michael Jackson. She said the worst part of NYC was that there weren’t any coffee shops like in Zadar. People just got their coffee and left the coffee shop! While that seems pretty ordinary for Americans, it is a culture shock for Croatians.

Check out this short video about historical People’s Square.

The streets in the historic city are quite clean and there are numerous alleyways from the main streets