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Dear Split Tech City community,
my name is Ivona and, for those of you who don’t know me, I’ve been an STC volunteer for quite a while now. It has been a very exciting journey, and I really hope it will stay like that.
Born in Split and raised in Kaštela, my whole life I was soaked in the beautiful Mediterranean climate and warm summers. Now that I’ve moved away, I appreciate nice weather days more. (You don’t get many of them in Belgium.)
Why I decided to replace my beautiful country with the colder, northern one, you may ask. Well, it is very difficult to answer that question in a couple of sentences, especially since it was not planned at all. It was a very spontaneous decision, but deep down, when I’m thinking about it now, it was the right thing to do. For me.
It’s the first time I put myself before anyone else. And it felt so damn good!
Being surrounded by many different types of people, and at the same time working on myself and trying to learn from different situations I was going through while in university, I noticed that I don’t get along with many people, or that I don’t want to.
I didn’t have many friends growing up, I didn’t like how they would spend their free time or the conversations they would have. I thought: “There must be something wrong with me.“
I realized I was sometimes scared to even state my own opinion because I didn’t want to be judged or looked at the wrong way. Some relationships that I maintained I later realized I never needed. They were neither genuine nor healthy. Until I decided to join the Split Tech City community.
I met so many new people, with different stories, backgrounds, and ambitions.
I finally felt the “Oh, this is where I belong!” feeling. I started writing different articles, and I focused on personal growth and soft skills, all by following Split Tech City’s amazing lectures during the lockdown. I gained some courage and it got me to my first internship at one of Split’s IT companies.
Days were going by, and I was happy, but still – something was missing. I figured out I miss being independent. I wanted to move out of my hometown, and I was planning on how exactly to do it, but my financial situation was not the best, so I thought I’d be patient a little about it.
Until one very ordinary day, months before my graduation, I received an interesting job offer via LinkedIn.
It sounded too good to be true. The catch? “We need you to move to Brussels.” Great. How can I ever pull this off?
At the thought of that, I got excited, and my heart was racing like crazy, but in a positive, thrilling way. This is it. This is exactly what I need. I need to try this. I know I can do this! Fast forward to September, my Belgian journey started.
I realized how powerful I am. How easily I can manage all the different things and obstacles I had.
Making a transition from being a student to being an adult and trying to be independent is scary on its own within the comfort of your native country but imagine doing that 1500 kilometers away.
All the knowledge, both technical and non-technical, was put to the test when I joined a big, international company and started my first full-time job. “Okay, this is it, Ivona, there’s no turning back now,” I remember saying this to myself the first day I came to the office.
Weeks were going by, and I was more and more thrilled and excited: with the job, with the people, my new colleagues, and new friends. There was no fear of not belonging anymore, no more anxiety, feeling guilty because I would feel a certain way. I was finally breathing.
That’s when I realized, there was never anything wrong with me. I was just in the wrong environment.
A similar thing happens when a flower is not blooming. The gardener never blames the flower, instead, he will check the soil, watering schedule, lack of sun exposure, etc. – to make sure the flower has everything it needs. Ironically enough, I moved to a country with a severe lack of sun exposure compared to Croatia, but you get the point.
Don’t get me wrong, I had good soil and water there, I just didn’t want to stay in a pot. I wanted to be a part of a big garden, with as many different sorts of flowers as possible, and now I am.
I lost a lot of friends, I got disappointed many times in my life. I got my heart broken on an ordinary day, in a parking lot.
But all those things taught me a little about myself and about the others, as well.
When I’m reflecting on my life in Croatia, I don’t link it with negative things, I was extremely grateful for all of them because they gave me the courage to fully understand and find myself. Good things were replaced with even better ones, as a reward for stepping out of my comfort zone and challenging myself every single day. There is one thing that has no replacement, and that is this community.
I wouldn’t be where I am if it wasn’t for Split Tech City.
I learned and gained so much from them, and all I gave them back was some of my free time. I will always be grateful for you guys!
And to you, my friend reading this, it does not matter if you moved from abroad to Croatia, or you are a local – don’t forget to take care of yourself. Take care of your environment. Say “Hi!” to the sunset for me when you see it.
Take a moment each day to be grateful for life and make the best out of it!
“Don’t limit yourself. Many people limit themselves to what they think they can do. You can go as far as your mind lets you. What you believe, remember, you can achieve.” — Mary Kay Ash