(Not) looking through pink glasses - the blog on them and us

I am starting this blog with one Ukrainian’s thoughts about Croatia he came to and Croatian people he met. When asked what he thought of Croats, he smiled mysteriously. And I thought it was not a good beginning.

Vitaly has only been here for a while (6 months approx.). I consider him competent when it comes to quality assessment of living here also because Croatia is only one of the stations to him. Well-experienced cosmopolitan talks about the differences and similarities between the two capitals.

Vitaly is an extraordinarily pretty 33-year old man. I am purposely starting the main paragraph with this remark as he opens our discussion by comparing the looks of their and our…women.
He is pretty sure that Ukrainian and Russian are the most beautiful women. BUT! (somehow we like him) he thinks the same for Croatian girls. This conversation is going in the right direction, it seems.

Vitaly feels comfortable here. Feeling comfortable is a desirable condition because Kiev is currently the city, and Ukraine country where politics dictates a state of mind. After analysing the political situation in Ukraine he says that life is relaxing here. The inability to create your own future, to start some business projects, bothers him because everything is in Their hands, and it’s in vain to fight against Them.

He says that Ukrainians are introverts, when compared to Croatians, after all. That’s why he likes our openness and immediacy.

Wow, what a surprise, he admires the beauty of nature, and he managed to explore it through almost 3 seasons now. He is looking forward to autumn in Zagreb…Croatia. Taking photos of butterflies lover can hardly wait to discover some hidden, even more secluded destination. Well, there are quite a lot such places, dear Vitaly. Just go southwest of Zagreb and then…

The other day Vitaly went shopping. Of course, there are a lot of shops and brands in Kiev, but prices differ. In a negative way. He says it’s a pleasure to buy something when it’s 70% off, at the same place – one of the shopping centres Zagreb is full of, and Kiev is not. He didn’t’ go to a grocery shop. He forgot to.

He has just told me he enrolled in a PhD study in Zagreb.
The education systems in Ukraine and Croatia? To be continued…
We don’t have to do it all right now. Vitaly doesn’t like pressure… and it seems that he likes living here in Croatia.

The little things every classroom must have

When you’re a teacher who has been working for several years now – your expectations increase, that’s for sure. Your demands, too. Well, this introduction would seem pretty serious if it was written by anyone else but me – a teacher.

My lessons, our lessons, are largely determined by the place they are held at. Because, in some way, it determines my mood. That’s why I am looking forward to those who have a certain … charm? Well, something special, atypical, something to warm the place. And I’m the one who used to enter lots of different places (mostly business ones) in order to hold my lessons.

The process of scaning an improvised classroom starts automatically; quickly, efficiently, under-the-table. And I always notice the same things, if there is any colour, a candy bowl or a glass full of coloured pencils. A candy bowl … candies expired, left there for a long time…. but that bowl … Maybe I’m more interested in the mystery of putting it there… really cold, boring, a typical commercial space . Someone had to choose an appropriate size bowl, maybe it was the colour that was essential… and then it was filled with its content.

This is neither an article on how teachers need  supporting technology in their classrooms nor on the need to adjust  plans and programmes of contemporary educational systems. This is the article about our reasons, reasons that made us love what we do. And we certainly love something warm, human, functional – and sweets definitely meet the requirements .
It’s not a problem, we will write some texts on teacher-student relationship, texts on super cool methodological issues, too; we will recommend some really helpful materials and interesting books…but it seemed to us that one should write about little things that matter.

Well, regarding that: we would like your homework to be neatly written and your notebooks to be carefully selected; we would also like you to arrive on time, but won’t be too strict if you are late… what we like even more is to see you smiling. We are waiting for your recommendations and suggestions, yourcritics. We want you to make an effort even if you’re tired. You might think that we do not notice these things but they really help us grow up… with you, of course.
The little things. Things that make the difference.

How we are seen

… by those who didn’t know anything about Croatia, but they were forced to learn.

It is always interesting to write about foreigners who, when coming to Croatia, make impressions about small European country they used to come to because of the fine fish, hidden, unspoiled beaches and tourist attractions, and now have to assimilate to the culture in which conversations are long, football is an imperative, and drinking coffee is a custom. And we start with this topic – is the substance internationally known as coffee, and in our country known as kava, only a black liquid with more or less sugar, with hot or cold milk in a glass or china cup? Not really, for Croats that black liquid is everything mentioned … and even more. It has also been noticed by one American citizen with a temporary residence in Zagreb. We’ll call him Tim. And while we are reading Tim’s blog, we are amazed as he hits the point. He is American who gets right to spread the word of mouth all that Croats are – because he knows it.

So he says…
Croatian people love coffee. According to the research done by one Internet portal, an average Croat drinks 5 kilos of coffee per year and Croats spend 2.25 million hours drinking it. Tim sees us as people who, while drinking coffee, make important decisions – about marriage, divorce, job, everything. Everything is done, not even in one’s favourite coffee shop, but simply – in a café. And a café, guess what, has been named after coffee.
You are visiting someone…people you like more or less… It is decent to bring something with you. Croats take it easy – they bring coffee – ground, brick or without caffeine. The plastic bag is not essential. It is important to draw the package … from somewhere. So your dinner will be the best dinner ever… Because the hostess will not be angry anymore.

It is interesting how Americans (in this case Tim) define the purpose of drinking coffee in the U.S. and here in Croatia. When American takes a paper cup close to his mouth, the only thing that goes through his mind is something like to do more and more with the help of this ingredient that keeps you awake while for Croats it is only and entirely social event, going out, something that is written in the planner, and it’s the reason for making an appointment with your hairdresser, for skipping lunch, and so on.

While drinking coffee, Croats mingle, talk, gesticulate, and are sensitive. Tim sees that Americans (on this issue) are not so interesting – they sit and fiddle with their gadgets.
Tim finds out that the act of drinking coffee differs Croatia from all the other countries that he had previously visited. We are pleased that the image of winter in Zagreb got imprinted on his memory, which means blurred glass and shop windows, everything because of a hot cup … It’s warm because of the people who are sad, melancholic, worried or excited, at that moment. Whatever happens, there is a cup of fragrant coffee right next to them. Everything will be fine, says Tim. Everything will be resolved while drinking coffee.

Shall we go for a coffee?