The best adventure is the one you fear the most

Socrates once said, “Courageous is the man who does not run away but stays in his place and fights.” This is precisely what students of the 3rd year of English Economics and Management, Juraj Bosnjak and Lovro Lui, did. These students decided to boldly step out of their comfort zone and throw themselves into the biggest unknown that was offered to them – Russia, the largest country in the world. They have firmly proved to everyone that they can manage, learn a lot, but have more fun in a country where most people do not speak English but speak the language of community.

I: Hi guys! Thank you for taking the time to share with us your interesting exchange experience from Russia. You said you were studying economics and management in English, how come you made that potentially complicated move in education?  

L: We have decided to study in English to better prepare ourselves for what lies ahead, and to learn the terms used today in the global market.

J: Yes, before we enrolled at ZSEM we heard a lot of positive things that came true and fulfilled as well as all our expectations. The option of studying in English was an added bonus that, among other things, at this college, prepares us especially for today’s demanding business market. I also especially liked that at ZSEM I had the opportunity to nurture my sports career with an education. Everyone really had a lot of understanding and always came out to meet me.  

I: All honor on persistence and commitment to your goals in the future. How come you decide to exchange in such a far and unknown place?

L: We decided on Moscow because we believe that Russia is an unexplored market that brings a lot of new opportunities for development in business and education, but also in personal. People often have prejudices against Russia, but we wanted to prove to ourselves and others that this was not true.  

J: We wanted to get out of our comfort zone that we have been in all our lives and to get away from everything that is known and available to us. We think it is best learned through new experiences, and we have opted for the potentially most extreme option to get the best experience.

I: How difficult was it for you to get used to living in Moscow and why?

L: After the initial shock that came after realizing that we were completely alone in a completely unfamiliar environment, it became very exciting. The only real obstacle was the language barrier.  

J: Almost nobody spoke English and everything was in Cyrillic. At first, we felt a little lost, but the people from Russia are really extremely hospitable and polite which made everything a lot easier.

I: That’s really nice to hear. We are glad you had such a positive experience with people. What was your educational experience at Plehov University of Economics? Were language barriers a problem, too?

L: The professors really speak great English and are very friendly to the exchange students. But the campus is huge and makes up 15,000 students, and it’s a little difficult at first to adapt to such a way and approach, because at ZSEM we are used to so-called personalized education where professors know our strengths and weaknesses, point in the right direction.

J: At first, it was really difficult to manage on such a large campus. You don’t know where to go, where to turn first, who to ask … Such unfamiliar situations are unpredictable, exciting and keep you going. There is something particularly useful about learning from experiences that are unpleasant to us.

I: All honor on such a positive perspective! There are really a lot of students on that campus, how many of them have shared the exchange experience with you?

J: We met a lot of exchange students from a lot of different sides of the world. We met a lot of students from Croatia as well, but also from Asia, America and the rest of Europe. We have made good friends and are still in touch with them.

L: In fact, we all connected with the exchange because we were in the same situation. Far from home and everything we knew, we had only ourselves, which did not bring us a feeling of loneliness but a kind of community in that “solitude”. Although we were all different because of the different cultures, social and other systems we came from, it did not hinder us, but further enriched our experience.

I: How did you hang out and have fun? Is it different than in Croatia?

L: It’s almost the same. The very way of having fun and nightlife is very similar to the one in Croatia. Everyone is extremely sociable despite the language barrier, and the city itself offers so many opportunities that we have not been able to explore in the half year we spent there.

J: We were never really bored, the city is very big and never sleeps

I: This exchange really sounds interesting on the educational side as well as the social one! Do you have any tips for students currently considering sharing?   

L: I think all of us at ZSEM should take this unique opportunity for learning and personal development outside the comfort zone. We chose the option that we thought was the most unknown and which would teach us most and prepare us for the future. We came back to Zagreb as completely different people with a positively changed mindset.

Thank you guys! I believe this conversation and your positive experiences will inspire a lot of students to take the plunge and embark on an exchange adventure.