Gap Year in Croatia

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Croatia was once a traveler's secret, but that's quickly changing. With fabulous medieval cities, breathtaking natural scenery and delicious food, this beautiful country is making its way onto many people's "must see" lists. Many who visit say they wish they had more time, so count yourself smart for choosing to spend all or part of your gap year exploring Croatia.

A gap year in Croatia can be tailored to suit every traveler’s interests. Whether it’s teaching English, spending time with children as an au pair, or backpacking through this beautiful country, your time in Croatia will be unforgettable.

Teach English

Finding work as an English teaching in Croatia isn’t as common as other countries around the world, but it’s not impossible. When applying to individual institutions, don’t be discouraged if you don’t hear back right away. Response times can be slow. Also, be sure to search various avenues to find jobs: contact your TEFL institution’s advisor, peruse the TEFL job sites and get in touch with individual schools you find.

As with most countries, it’s easier to find English teaching positions in the larger cities like Split, Zagreb, and Rijeka. A TEFL certificate is often needed to work at private institutions while public schools require employees to have a Master’s in Education. Schools often hire teachers for fall in July, August, and September but sending your resume year round doesn’t hurt.

Au Pair

If working with children brings you joy, then consider spending your gap year as an au pair. Living as a member of a Croatian family allows you to pick up the language and situate yourself in the day-to-day life of the country.

It’s a great way to immerse yourself in Croatian culture. Plus you’ll have the support of your new family to help you navigate the ins and outs of your new home. Both live in and live out positions are possibilities depending on your preference.

Backpacking

Dubrovnik, Split, and Zagreb are among Croatia’s most visited cities. While their visibility among tourists may be growing, the beauty is certainly not diminishing. Medieval walls surround Dubrovnik, you can learn to sail in the Split harbor and enjoy the spectacular Christmas markets in Zagreb.

Exploring beyond these major centers, you’ll find award-winning red wine in the Peljesac Peninsula. The Elaphite Islands offer peace of mind with spectacular hikes and gorgeous beaches. Not to be missed is Zadar with its sea organ and 2,000-year-old Roman forum.

Costs

Croatia isn't as cheap as it once was, but it's still one of most affordable countries in Europe. Joining in 2013, Croatia is the European Union's 28th member and they use the Euro.

An average meal in Croatia will cost you $6.50 USD, a beer $2 and a bottle of water $1.50. Where you live, like most places, affects the cost of rent. An apartment in a city center is $300 a month while places outside of the center can come in at $225. A monthly transportation pass will run you $50.

If you're traveling in Croatia, Lonely Planet recommends budgeting at least $65 per day for budget travelers.

Visas

Visa requirements for Croatia differ based on citizenship, so be sure to confirm with your local embassy before traveling.

US, Canadian, British, and Australian citizens are not required to have a tourist visa if they are planning to stay for less than 90 days. You do need a valid passport that is good for up to three months after your planned departure date. Travelers are required to register with the local police station within 24 hours of arrival. Generally, if you are staying in a hotel or hostel they’ll register for you.

Individuals interested in staying longer than 90 days have a few hoops to jump through. Temporary stay permits are often required be obtained from a Croatian Consulate or Embassy in your home country. Once in Croatia, a residency permit can be obtained by providing documents such a birth certificate, proof of health insurance, proof of financial means and a criminal background check, among other things. All pertinent documents must also be translated into Croatian and have an “Apostille” stamp. Those interested in working will need to apply for an additional work permit.

Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to research the process, gather the necessary documents, and apply in advance.

Hostilities ended in Croatia in 1995, but demining is still in progress and will be for some time. Be extra vigilant in former conflict zones and keep an eye out for the universal sign for mines, a skull and crossbones with a red triangle. Crime levels in the country are low, but be watchful of pickpockets while in more crowded, touristy locations like Zagreb or Split.

Healthcare in Croatia is modern, but public facilities can be under budget and some medicines may be limited. Private hospitals and pharmacies often stock up on medicines not found in the public sector. If you require a particular medication, bring a large enough supply for your entire stay with a letter from your doctor.

Instances of tick-borne encephalitis have been found in inland Croatia but are not common along the coast. Food and drink are generally considered safe.

Contributed by Alecia Weaver

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