Serendipity: luck that takes the form of finding valuable or pleasant things that are not looked for. (Merriam-Webster).

It’s one of my favorite words–and one of my favorite things. It’s just such an amazing thing when the planets unexpectedly align in your favor and the universe hands you a surprise gift.

Perhaps my best serendipitous event happened when my dean sent me an email with this subject line: Do you have a valid passport? As someone who adores travel, that certainly got my attention! It turns out that she had some funds that had to be spent on something international-related by the end of the semester–which was in three weeks (they’d been earmarked for something else that was cancelled). She’d done a Fulbright in Zagreb not too long before, during which she’d met a criminologist at the university. She thought maybe my department and the Croatian professor’s might be able to work out some research partnerships.

So, a couple weeks later, I was on a plane to Zagreb! I’d never really given Croatia much thought, although my grandfather was born about 200 km from Zagreb, in Trieste. Well, I landed, and within a day I was thinking, I could live here. I don’t know why, but Zagreb just fit me.

I spent a week there during that visit. Not long after returning home, I applied for a Fulbright myself–and got it. I lived there for a semester, and it was amazing. Later I did another, shorter Fulbright. I’ve visited several other times as well. I have done research with Croatian colleagues and made friends there. It’s one of my favorite places in the world.

All because my dean had to spend money fast.

2 thoughts on “Serendipity”

  1. Zagreb is SUCH a lovely city! And I hope you made it out to Rovinj and Pula out on the Istrian Peninsula – ooh, and Plitvička jezera, too!

    One of my oldest friends (met when we were only 20 and both working as au pairs in Zurich) is from Zagreb, and I spent just about every minute when visiting her over my 40th birthday thinking “I could live here!” so I absolutely understand your love for the city.

    So glad that your dean had funds to spend!

    1. I’m glad you share my love for Croatia! For some reason I’ve never made it to Rovinj or Pula, but I’ve definitely been to Plitvica, which is stunning. And I’ve been to inland Istria (Hum and Motovun), and much of the coast (Dubrovnik, Split, Zadar, Opatija, Rijeka), and lots of places inland as well. No islands, however!

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