Having spent quite some time in Rijeka, I’ve become accustomed to my surroundings. People in the businesses near my apartment and workplace have started to recognize me, and although I know little Croatian (just the necessary basics like “molim” – please, “hvala” – thank you, and “volio bih jedan kava” – I would like one coffee) we have friendly conversations in the capacity that we can.
One thing that I’ve come to love a lot about Rijeka is that the city is very walkable. I’ve found in general towns/cities in Europe are more pedestrian-friendly, and if I had the power to change things with a snap I’d bring this type of layout back to the US. For sure some parts in the States are similar, but not everyone back home is able to take a short walk to get groceries.
In any case, walking has allowed me to see more of the area’s culture, and the greatest part that I have noticed is the more laid-back nature people have here, in general. Stopping at a cafe in the middle of the day for cappucinos or macchiatos is a daily ritual, and it isn’t uncommon to spend an hour or so talking with your friends/co-workers during this break. Beyond that, locals go about their days with the understanding that everything will get done in the end, so they do not overwork to the point of exhaustion every day (this is of course a generalizing statement, formed in part after discussing local culture with workers at the gallery for which I intern).
In short, Rijeka has come to be a comfortable home-away-from-home, and I will for sure miss the warm, tranquil lifestyle that I have come to know here. Perhaps in some way I can bring just a slice of this life back to Michigan with me!