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Students Share Their Croatian Language Journeys – Learning On Lošinj, Take Two!

Croatian Language SchoolnewsletterStudents Share Their Croatian Language Journeys – Learning On Lošinj, Take Two!

Jun

7

Students Share Their Croatian Language Journeys – Learning On Lošinj, Take Two!

Sara Dyson returned to our summer school, on the island of Lošinj, in May 2024. We were interested in her reflections on doing an immersion course for the second time, and how it compared with the first time and her weekly Skype lessons. 

Q1 This was your second intensive Croatian Language learning week on Lošinj island so you knew better what to expect this time. Did you approach it any differently from the first time around?

Definitely. I was so panicky the first time. I concocted this vision in my head of what the course would be, which was totally wrong and I’m glad for it.

I thought I’d be with other people, which made me nervous because I know I’d disappear into the nearest wall in that situation. Was very happy to learn that it would be private, just like my weekly lessons.

I felt that I needed to prove to myself, to my teacher, to my friends, and to the Expat in Croatia audience that I could actually speak Croatian for a whole week.

I gave myself all these extra assignments to make the most of the course, but also showcase exactly what my capabilities were – the good, the bad and the ugly. I wanted to be honest and transparent, but I also wanted to be the best student I could be.

I carried so much shame into that first immersion course, because I’d been beating myself up for years for not speaking at the level that I and society considered proportionate to the time I’ve lived in Croatia. And that was why I put so much pressure on myself to excel.

Once I got on the other side of it, I realized that I spoke Croatian much better than I thought I did. The setting on Lošinj in combination with Linda’s manner of teaching helped me graduate to a new level and opened my eyes to my capabilities.

In the weeks after the course, I gradually let go of the shame and let myself off the hook. The shame was useless and only served to hinder my learning process.

We all learn differently at different speeds, with different capabilities, budget, and support. Why should we all be measured by the same ruler?

Cut to this second course…

For this course, I was excited. I had no anxiety or pressure. I knew that the course would have different content, but that didn’t concern me.

I felt ready and up for putting in my all, in a positive, fruitful way – without proving anything to anybody. This meant I could spend more time learning and speaking than agonizing.

 

Q2 What were you hoping to achieve, and did you manage to achieve it?

I wanted to speak Croatian conversationally. There are many degrees of conversational, but I wanted to communicate a thought or story without a lot of help or pauses – and I achieved that.

During the course, speaking Croatian started to feel natural, a bit more reflexive. I was able to capitalize on the confidence I gained during the first course, everything I’d learned in my lessons in the last 8 months and all the real life speaking I’d been doing in the day-to-day.

On my last night on Lošinj, Linda and I went for long dinner in Veli Lošinj. We spoke in Croatian about 90% of the time. I didn’t struggle, I just spoke. It flowed.

It reminded me of a conversation I had with Linda about 6 months into our lessons. (Now, it’s been about 20 months.) I was such a wreck at that point about my language skills, and in tears, I shared that I feel like I’m never going to make it. Maybe this just isn’t in the cards for me. Some people learn languages easier than others, and maybe I’m just one of those people who won’t be able to get it.

She said, “Sara, it takes time. Give it another year, and you will see.”

But, she was right. More than a year later, there is a significant improvement. Look, I’m not fluent and fluency feels a long way off still. I hope that one day I can speak as comfortably with others as I do with Linda.

I believe that what I’ve achieved is significant for me and it gives me a realistic hope of how far I can go with continued commitment, and that’s really all that matters.

 

Q3 Although we think the combination of the two is ideal, if you had to choose between a week on Lošinj and the same amount of time in weekly lessons, which would you choose and why?

I’d choose Lošinj, for sure. You just can’t beat being in person with somebody. Doesn’t matter if it’s Croatian lessons, or a business meeting, or a casual coffee with a friend. Human connection requires human contact.

I interact with Croatians the most in person, so it is logical that an in-person course would amplify the impact.

Q4 Did you have any new epiphanies or breakthroughs in terms of any aspect of the Croatian language?

One aspect of the language that can be troubling is that some adjectives do not match the nouns they modify in terms of the ending. This is one of those things that just feels like an unnecessary complication.

Not only do you need to know the endings for the nouns, but also the adjectives. It can be TOO MUCH.

For example:

I saw a woman at the café.

Vidjela sam jednu ženu u kafiću. (adjective and noun match endings)

I saw a man at the café.

Vidjela sam jednog čovjeka u kafiću. (adjective and noun do not match endings)

We focused on the akusativ case heavily during this second course, and it finally started to feel a little reflexive, like I knew it or something.

Akusativ is the case that I use the most in my daily life, so getting this one down is really important. When Linda and I were speaking, I would say the adjective veeeeeeery slowly and then look at her for approval, like a monkey doing a dance waiting for a cookie.

She’d smile and I’d cheer before moving on to the rest of the sentence. Each correct use was a celebration.

 

Q5 Did you manage to see a bit more of Lošinj this time round and what were your favourite bits?

I was working in between my lessons so there wasn’t any time to do any exploring. Instead, I returned to some places I like that could easily be visited in an hour.

There is a caffe bar next to the Privlaka bridge that’s right on the water, with free and easy parking. On one visit, I sunbathed, and on the other, I took my laptop and worked. In the mornings, I would visit another kafić where I do my grocery shopping, which is low-key and not touristy.

I popped down to Riva and spent a couple mornings at Lussen, where I ended up meeting a fan who works there with her boyfriend. The coffee was real nice and the view is superb.

Last time I was on Lošinj, I took 4 extra days after the course to explore the island. This time, I took a few extra days before the course and visited island Susak, which is a 1-hour ferry from Lošinj. I absolutely loved it, and I hope to visit it next time I do a course.

***

Thanks so much to Sara for finding some of her valuable time for us. Thanks also for the great images.

If you’d like to find out more about what Sara does in Croatia, have a look at  Expat in Croatia – How to Live in Croatia – Visa, Healthcare, Business

 

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