Monday, October 1, 2012

September 20: Minneapolis-Newark-Munich-Zagreb

Day one in Zagreb began around two in the afternoon after about 20 hours of airports and travel (Minneapolis-Newark-Munich-Zagreb). The trip itself wasn't bad. The Lufthansa Airbus A340 was a probably the most technologically advanced airplane I have traveled on thus far. I’m pretty sure I only thought this because my seat was next to a stairway that led below the passenger area to a pod like deck that housed 10 bathrooms and what appeared to be an apartment for the staff.  I saw a flight attendant punch a code in a box near the ceiling where a door slid open and I saw a massive space that looked like some type of lounge….I was impressed, until a stewardess reminded us that only 10 people can be in the space at once since that is how many oxygen masks are available in the event of crisis. Luckily, I wasn't alone on the flight. I had another Fulbrighter with me that is also from Minnesota, Amy, which definitely helped with the nerves. 

Anyway, the arrival in Zagreb was exciting and I was thankful for our host from the U.S. Embassy for the ride and the help getting situated in my room. It’s a student dorm and it is everything you would expect that to be and maybe a little bit less; however it is incredibly cheap and I only have to stay here for a few days…er weeks L…until I find my own apartment. After a brief nap I realized the room had no toilet paper. If I was like my dad always traveled with a roll, this would not have been a problem. Alas, I’m not and was pretty much screwed. Welcome to Zagreb. However if this was to be the worst of my problems, I  figured I would survive. So I had a quick shower and I was ready to start exploring:

Task #1 find TP
Task #2 food
Task #3 phone
Task  #4 find place to live and get out of dorm as quickly as possible.

Lucky for me I had a friend in Zagreb that met me at the dorm and showed me how things work in the city. People speak very fast, just like I speak English, so understanding the language wasn't very easy. In fact on this first day it seemed almost impossible, but I kept telling myself that I was tired and it was new, it was bound to get easier. After a quick bite to eat, I bought a sim card for my phone and officially had a Croatian number. Better yet, a data plan so I could chat with my people back home J. My friend also helped me by a tram card, so I was mobile Andrea with a spiffy mobile phone. I  had arranged to view an apartment that was rented by two girls near the faculty where I’ll be working so I went that way around 7pm. The apartment was very nice, not big but not small, very bright, a few balconies, and a big bathroom. It even had a dishwasher, something I've rarely had in my apartments in America. It has two large bedrooms and a walk in closet….or I should say the room they were trying to rent to me. It was tiny. I’m talking not even 1/3 the size of the other bedrooms. It is cheap, so that is good, but the rent for this place is to be split evenly between the three of us. I was thinking that pretty much sucked so instead of jumping on it like my need for getting settled in was telling me to do, I resigned myself to email over the weekend and bargain to pay half the rent they are asking.  If that works, I’m willing to live in a closet for the cheap rent and opportunity to live with locals in a good location. The rent would be less than he amount Comcast steals from me every month for cable and internet in Pittsburgh.

After viewing the apartment ("stan" in Croatian) and a quick stop at a shop (can’t forget that TP), I hopped on tram and rode half of the way home with my friend, half of the way all by myself. I managed to get back to my room without incidence and settled in for the night. Ripping the entire series of Friends to my computer proved to be excellent thinking since I have no internet in this room and basically nothing to do. Reflecting on my day, I realized I had accomplished 3 of my tasks and was thinking about the 4th. While I would have preferred to have seen a decent room and said yes right away, my dreams of a quick departure from the dorm are on hold for a while. However, my stop at the store also included the purchase of some cookies and a few liters of Staropramen. I had a safe place to stay, TP, and some beer-all in all, not a bad first day in Croatia. 

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