Freedom of Movement 26 - Zagreb
Josi is Croatian.
She was born and raised in Köln, then in West Germany, by Croatian parents who had arrived as young migrant workers and, eventually, owned their own restaurant.
Josi studied for a semester at Oxford Brookes as Erasmus student, where she met Rob, who introduced us.
After university, she moved to Croatia to work for RTL. “Accidentally”, she says.
Josi and her husband now have a chain of opticians. This means that they are often travelling for work, looking for new styles to sell.
“We were just in Milan for the fashion collections. Twice in ten days. It’s nice to have the opportunity to be free”.
She tells me that, between them, they travel within the EU several times a month. Without that ability, their business would suffer.
Josi also tells me of a time when it was harder for her to take freedom for granted:
“When I studied in UK, I went home to Germany for Christmas. Within those ten days, the regulations changed and anyone with a Croatian passport now needed a visa to enter the UK.
So, even though I was a student in the UK, I was denied entry. I was put in the interview room, and deported to Germany, to get my visa.
So, I decided to lose the Croatian passport, and applied for Geman citizenship. It’s not automatic, but I was born and lived there, so it ws straightforward. Now I have a German passport as a result.”
“Sometimes I have these moments when realise that I’m so lucky to live here. Zagreb is a nice size city. In Paris or London (I was there recently), it feels too much. I wouldn’t feel comfortable sending my children to such a city.”
“I’d like my children to travel too. They only speak Croatian at home, even though I talk to them in German too. I think that being sent to a summer school to learn another language would benefit them enormously, but I don’t want to spoil them. I only began travelling when I was a student, and I was very grateful for the opprounity. I’d like them to appreciate that freedom, not take it for granted.