Trip to Croatia

On my first day of school, I was presented with the option of going to Croatia on a 5 day trip with my class. Although the trip was REALLY rough on my bank account, the right decision was pretty obvious to me. Not only have I always wanted to go to Croatia, but I also thought it would be super beneficial to use the trip as an opportunity to get closer to my classmates. I have all my classes with the same group of 19 people, so it was in my best interest to get to know/bond with them as soon as possible. So on September 25 I went to bed at 1 AM after packing, only to wake up at 4:45 (or, less than 4 hours later) to get to the coach bus on time.  We loaded the bus, I said goodbye to my host mama, and then, once in the bus, promptly fell asleep until our first rest stop. The bus ride consisted of driving through most of Austria and Slovenia to get to Croatia. It still amazes me that in Europe, you can just casually drive to another country just as easily as we can drive to another state in the US. I spent a few rest stops in (and many hours looking out the window at) Slovenia, which is a super beautiful country. The only thing notable about the trip there is that at one point I gave a girl in my class permission to speak German to me so I could practice, and somehow this turned into all of the students and teachers also speaking German with me, which gave my entire time in Croatia an unexpected twist.

About 8 hours later we finally arrived in Croatia, where we had to take an hour long ferry to the island we stayed on called Mali Losinj.  Somewhere around 10 hours after our departure, we finally arrived in Mali Losinj and got situated in our hotels. I immediately fell in love with Croatia. The weather was perfect, the air was salty and fresh, seagulls flew overhead, palm trees and tropical seaside bars could be seen in every direction, and right outside our resort was the vast, blue Mediterranean Sea. It was like a dream. Right after arriving we went swimming – I think it was my first time ever swimming in the sea. Later that day I discovered a window in my hotel room that I could crawl out of and sit on the roof with a stunning view of the sea. I sat on the roof, drank Almdudler, and counted my blessings as I watched the sun set. That night, me and 2 of my roommates sat on the floor in the loft of our room surrounded by Croatian snacks and drinks, and just talked. This little “party” was significant to me because it was just normal girl talk that I was able to understand and even participate in – even though it was all in German. At night, most of my classmates went to the beach and we all listened to music and looked at the stars and listened to the waves. The rest of the trip in Croatia was just as beautiful as the first day. We went snorkeling twice a day, and in between snorkeling we had lessons about sea life and studied organisms under microscopes. Snorkeling was something I’d never done before. Putting on flippers and goggles and diving into the clear, deep sea was undoubtedly one of the coolest things I’ve done in my entire life. Seeing under the sea is like seeing a whole new world. (Don’t mind the whole double-Disney pun I just made there.) Sometimes while snorkeling I would find a school of fish and swim alongside them. One highlight was when, on a boat excursion one of the days, someone spotted 6 dolphin fins nearby our boat. The boat stopped and we watched the dolphins for awhile. Of course I’ve seen them in aquariums before, but there’s something undeniably breathtaking about seeing an animal in its natural habitat.
After 5 days, we said our final goodbyes to Mali Losinj made the 10 hour journey back to Austria. Here are some of my overall impressions of Croatia:
-The Croatian version of nutella is so good. In fact, I snuck a few one-time-use capsules back to Austria with me.
-Croatia is super cheap, and I really love Croatian chocolate and chocolate milk
-As I wrote in my journal, “I don’t think I’ll ever really be the same person again after swimming with the fish and seeing the world underneath the sea.”
-I made lots of new friends and finally started speaking a little bit of German. This was one of the best, most beneficial parts of the trip in my opinion.
-I think I fell in love with the sea. It felt so nice, so pure. Jumping in never felt too cold, always just refreshing. The salt from swimming twice a day for almost a week did wonders for my hair and skin, and also my well being. I felt so stress-free and happy. Snorkeling was a great way to escape the world for a bit and enter a completely different one. Underwater, all sounds from the outside world are cut off and all you can hear is your own breathing as you look around at the fish and seaweed and sea urchins and rocks.
-I want to go back. I think I have a set definition now of “paradise.”

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