Linden Pohland is an amazing young student that came for a semester in Dubrovnik. He studies International Hospitality and Service Management and currently is counting his last days at RIT Croatia. That's why he decided to share his Dubrovnik experiences with The Dubrovnik Times, as well as his views on tourism and much more.
Why did you choose Dubrovnik?
A lot of friends suggested that I come here. Due to the hospitality program back at RIT campus in Rochester there are lots of people who have visited Dubrovnik in the past so they encouraged me to study abroad since it's such a great experience. When I first visited RIT, the academic advisor said – oh, you just need to visit Dubrovnik! Such a beautiful city and great experience for students.
Was it like that when you came? What's your experience?
It's hard to sum it up in a few words. It's a beautiful city, unique and it's an environment that I've never seen before. This is my first foreign experience, I've been to Canada, but I don't really count that. It was a shock. Different, a new experience.
How do you like it here?
During the summer months when I first came here it was not as nice as it is now. There are not as many people; you have more time to take it in.
So what do you think about tourism in Dubrovnik? Have you noticed the changes in the seasons?
I think that it's good because I feel that it keeps the area going. I'm starting to notice more and more that hotels and shops are closed after the summer. I feel that Dubrovnik really survives on tourism and without it I don't know what the main industry of the city would be. Because I know that the city earns a lot of money from tourism, especially during the summer months. I live in Babin Kuk, so I see the cruise ships coming in and out and it's crazy to see the amount of people that come through here. I feel without it, Dubrovnik wouldn't be where it is today.
What is your experience with locals?
I feel that you have to break the ice at first with them. Once you get to know them, they're really great people. They are kind, supportive and nice, but the overall first impression is that they are more closed. There's a bit of the barrier that you have to get passed. It takes some time to build social relationships because people have to trust you first and eventually when you pass that point and show them who you are, you're in.
What are the differences between USA and Dubrovnik?
One of the main differences are the grocery stores. In the USA there are hundreds and hundreds of options for everything, while here grocery stores are smaller, which doesn't surprise me that much. In America, you can get everything imaginable in the grocery store! I had to get used to that.
Was your family surprised when you decided to go to Dubrovnik?
Yes and no. I think they saw it coming because it's something that I wanted to do – to study abroad. They were a bit surprised as well because I used to be shy, closed person. Since I was younger I became more social and came out of my shell. If you asked my parents when I was really young, around seven years old, they could never see me do something like this. But now it's different. I like to take advantage of opportunities. That's the only way to develop as a person.
Do you now feel a bit like a local?
Honestly, I do. The biggest thing for me was the public transportation. When I just came here I didn't have a bus ticket, and did not know my way around, but after a while when Dubrovnik was crowded with tourists and they were entering the bus and making lines, I was like: c'mon, get off the bus, just buy a new bus pass, let's go, I'm trying to get back to my apartment! I was originally that person that frustrated locals, but then I slowly gained the mentality of the locals to some degree.
Do you think that Dubrovnik experience will influence your further career?
Definitely. I'm in the International Hospitality and Service Management program and I think it definitely helps just being in the different city, in an international environment. The world is getting more globalized, everywhere around the world people come from different parts of world for tourism and hospitality. Whether we like it or not, things are getting more interconnected and every day we meet more and more people that are not like ourselves, that come from all over the world and I think it's important to have international perspective.
You're a part of Eta Sigma Delta (ESD) Honorary Society, can you tell us more about it?
ESD recognizes a professional achievements of students in hospitality and tourism program from all around the world. They are trying to improve leadership skills of their members, as well as networking opportunities. They are bringing guest speakers that share their experiences. It's a way for students to be recognized within the industry.
You helped the establishing of the chapter in RIT Croatia?
I was in executive board of ESD in Rochester at the end of last year, everyone knew at that time that I'll be coming to Croatia this semester. We talked around the idea of starting a chapter of ESD while I was here. I eventually decided that I was going to do it. Why not? I had to give a presentation to all the professors and they were entirely sold on the idea. We recruited students, selected our members, voted for our executive board. We have a great team that will continue working after I leave.
What are your future plans?
After finishing my undergraduate degree I would like to continue on and pursue a master’s degree in Hospitality. I don't know where yet. Then I think about entering the industry in the hospitality and management resort area. But ultimately I would like to be a professor.
What are you going to miss the most when it comes to Dubrovnik?
I think I'll miss the community. RIT in Rochester is huge, there are over 18 thousand students there and I think I'll miss that small, community feeling at the RIT Croatia campus, it's really nice. There's not 100 different things all going on at once, it's more focused. Also, I'd miss the landscape, the scenery around here. It's not every day that you can wake up and walk around looking at the mountains and the beautiful sea.