Christian Galli is a medical doctor with a business in the pharmaceutical industry. Born in Germany, of Hungarian descent, he now lives in Budapest but is a frequent visitor to Croatia and loves sailing. He has recently completed an immersion course in Croatian at the Croatian Language Schools’ summer school on the island of Lošinj. We asked him to share his experience of Croatia as well as the joys and challenges of learning the Croatian language:
1. Could you tell us a little about yourself and how your interest in Croatia and the Croatian language came about?
My interest in the Croatian language started several years ago when I did my sailing licence during my holidays in beautiful Rogoznica. I very much liked the people there, their friendly attitude and the relaxed way of living, all paired with amazing food and wine.
I am living, the majority of my time, in Budapest, Hungary, but being in business development in the pharmaceutical industry I need to travel a lot to surrounding countries and they are all Slavic speakers, so I thought it would be nice to learn Croatian in order to be able to connect with those guys.
2. You’ve just completed a Croatian Language School immersion course on the island of Lošinj; what made you decide on that, what was it like and how does it compare with other ways of learning the language?
Lošinj is a marvelous, breathtakingly beautiful, place with nice beaches and crystal clear blue-green water. Learning at such a beautiful place certainly contributed to my learning success at the Croatian Language School in Lošinj. Linda is a fantastic, patient and very experienced teacher and she makes you progress rapidly. Learning with her moves you beyond your limits. No book or online course can replace the personal face-to-face interaction, where an hour of real conversation is equal to ten on-line hours.
3. What is your first language, do you speak other languages and how does Croatian compare to other languages you know?
My first languages are Hungarian and German, as I was born in Germany to parents of Hungarian origin. So I speak Hungarian, German, French, Spanish and English and hope to add Croatian soon 😉
4. What are the easiest and most difficult things for you when you are learning Croatian?
The most difficult thing when learning Croatian is that I have to remember all words as new ones since Croatian is not a romantic language; therefore I am not able to derive or guess the meaning of words. However the grammar is very similar to the German grammar and a few hundred words are similar to Hungarian ones. I guess this is due to the common history during the Habsburg reign.
5. Do you get many opportunities to practice your Croatian with native speakers?
Unfortunately back home there are not too many people I can discuss with, but I am thinking about setting up a Meetup Group in Budapest for people interested in learning Croatian.
Study with Croatian Language School and get real life lessons. Study daily. I found the PONS published Croatian Learning books very good and additionally all books from Ana Bilić on Amazon are incredibly helpful.
7. How well do you know Croatia, what do you like best about it and is there anything about Croatia you find challenging when you visit?
I have great plans to explore all parts of Croatia in the next years, like its natural parks and coastal areas. Top of the agenda is the Kornati National Park to be explored by sailing there. Zagreb and Šibenik are also amongst my favorite places. Zagreb has a vibrant start-up scene and tremendous restaurants and nightlife.
8. As a keen sailor, how does Croatia compare to other sailing destinations?
Croatia is the undisputed, most beautiful, all year round sailing and yachting destination in the world with its over 1,500 islands. Nothing comes close to this little gem.
9. Do you have a favorite sailing area and some favorite anchorages, bays and marinas?
There are so many; this is difficult to tell, but the Kornati National Park is certainly leading the pack.
10. Finally, what are your plans for continuing with your Croatian language studies?
My plan is to reach Level A2/B1 by year end 2019 and I am planning to take further lessons with Linda to get there quickly.