When people ask me, how did you end up in Minnesota of all places, I always laugh. It is quiet funny that we lived in a place where the sea serenaded us, where mountains were in our backyard and where a casual walk to the store was the norm. 19 years ago we moved to southern Minnesota where cornfields were to the right and left of our home and where the way of life was just a little bit different. Though I’d love to go into specifics into why my family moved here, I’ve decided to save it for a book that I’m determined to write one day. But one thing I do love to talk about is a question I get asked often, what was it like growing up in Minnesota? 

Now, I’ll be honest, the first, let’s say, 10 years weren’t the easiest when it came to feeling accepted. And actually, if I’m really being honest, the struggle is still there, some are supportive, some aren’t. But even though we can’t change everyone’s mindsets, I’ve learned to ignore and embrace it! I brought that little town in southern Minnesota a little taste of culture. Friends always loved coming over and feasting on my moms amazing Croatian cooking, hearing stories and seeing pictures of the charming streets of Krk. Growing up in Minnesota, 100% made me who I am today and I love it. Cornfields might have been in our backyards, but they made for some really fun high school parties (sorry mom and dad). Sports are a way bigger deal here then back in Croatia, and that’s okay, because I loved nothing more then playing tennis everyday, twice a day. A lot of people haven’t heard of Croatia, and that’s okay too, I have loved teaching them about how full of heart we are, how amazing our food is, how beautiful our country is.

When Jordan and I went back to Croatia this summer, he just kept saying, we might all look a little different and live a little different but in the end we are all the same. I really kept thinking about how true it is. You ask how was it like growing up here? Well, not much different then how it would have been growing up in Croatia. Besides the fact that I learned to brace frigid winters and celebrate when it’s 35 degrees by just wearing a light jacket. Growing up in Minnesota I learned different cultures, have tried different foods and have had an excuse to book a ticket and travel. I wonder, if I was living in Croatia, would I still have the urge to travel as much, since it’s literally paradise there? One thing, I’ll admit we do wrong here in the states is our cooking. When we went back this summer, we lived in organic, home cooking, fresh from the garden heaven. Spices and vegetables right from grandmas garden, seafood right from the sea and non-chemical meat filled our bellies on a daily basis. I’m usually someone that really struggles with certain foods. Dairy will destroy me for about 48 hours if I have any intake and pastas and anything that has a high dose of gluten are a huge no. But when we went back, I was fine eating anything and everything, probably because it was organic and not loaded with nasty chemicals. Jordan and I are determined we’re going to grow a garden when we buy a home, well, Jordan is more determined then I am (not a green thumb what-so-ever) but we’ll see what happens.

There’s one thing though that would make me move back to Croatia instantly and that is, safety. We would roam the streets of Croatia at one in the morning, our only source of light would be the moon. We felt completely safe and at ease, absolutely no worries about what might be behind us. Thinking of doing that in our city of Minneapolis is an absolutely terrifying thought. How sad is that? While in Croatia we had been asked on several occasions if we’re scared living here? Our answer would be, well, you have to watch where you go and no, roaming the streets at one in the morning should not be something you do. Kids in Croatia would hop on their bikes and be gone all day wandering the city with their friends, that just made us so incredibly happy to see that there isn’t that worry. I’m really hoping that one day we can live that life of absolute peace and are able to let our kids ride their bike to the store.

Growing up in Minnesota wasn’t always easy, especially when it came to the way people looked and spoke to you, but I’m so glad they did have that judgement! If they didn’t, I wouldn’t be writing this. Growing up in Minnesota, I learned to make snow angels, added another language to my vocabulary, I learned different cultures and different mindsets and most of all, I learned how to really love up those friends that have turned into family.

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