5+ Years Living in Split: Expat Rainee Wang from Xi’an, China

May 26, 2022 - In our new TCN series, we uncover the lives of expats that have spent over 5 years living in Split. Next up, meet Rainee Wang from Xi’an, China!

Two idyllic weeks on a Croatian beach is very different from the realities of full-time living. So what is it really like to live in Croatia as an expat? In a new series on TCN, we meet expats who have lived here for 5 years or more, to find out from them the good, the bad, and the ugly of 12-month living in Croatia. Next up, Rainee Wang from Xi’an, China!

1. Tell us firstly how you came to Croatia? What motivated you to choose this slice of paradise and how long have you now been here?

I was born and raised in central China. After college graduation, I moved to Europe to continue my study in hospitality, and years working in Holland, the US, China, India, and Montenegro. 

The first time I came to Croatia was in 2006 and I visited Dubrovnik, Split, and Zagreb. I was amazed by the beauty of Croatia. These 3 places are all special in their way. I moved here at the end of 2013. We decided to start our own business here in Split. It has been almost 9 years now. 


2. Looking back, what were your perceptions and expectations?

There are some similarities between Croatian culture and Chinese culture. We are both very family-oriented cultures. Family is more important than oneself. Hospitality is a very important part of the social stand. When I visit a Croatian family, the warm welcome I get and the way they take care of me, really reminds me of home, with endless food and drinks, and they won’t let you leave the house without a satisfied stomach. But on the other hand, there are big differences in the business world. In Croatia, especially in Dalmatia, it is very lay-back. This kind of “po lako” culture doesn't exist in the Chinese business world. It made me very uncomfortable at the beginning. I felt like I was living in the last century. I was sure “po lako” culture would never succeed in business.

3. After 9 years here, how have those perceptions changed. Do you now view Croatia differently?

After nine years of living in Croatia, I have changed a lot. I'm used to “po lako” culture. I remember complaining “Nothing is finished on time!” “Look at these Croatians, they just drink coffee all day long.” “Nothing is more important than a coffee break” But now, I am almost one of them. Of course, I cannot change my Chinese nature completely. However, I started to understand why it is this way, and even see the beauty of it. Being slow is not just working slowly. It is 'stop for a moment and enjoy'. It is taking time for yourself. Which I think is the true luxury in the modern world.


4. After your 9 years, the 3 things you love most about Croatia?

When people ask me about Croatia, the first thing that comes to my mind is the beautiful climate, warm people, and delicious food. I think there is no need to say anything about the climate. Nature can speak for itself. People are very warm and kind, I was always treated nicely as a foreigner. However, I have to say it is very difficult to get into the local circle in Split. It seems they don’t like to make friends with outsiders. But it is not true, once you find local friends, they take you in, and treat you like family. The food is delicious. I guess in China food production becomes industrialized mass production. It is hard to find a fresh market in big cities. The taste of fruit and vegetables becomes artificial. That is why I was so surprised to taste “real” vegetables, fruit, and meat. The flavor is incomparable. 

5. And the 3 things you would like to change.

Well, I guess the first thing is always the bureaucracy like everyone else would mention. “Jedan papir fali” is true. There is always one paper missing. I have never finished anything with just one visit to the government building. But after nine years of dealing with MUP, I have developed my way of communicating with them. Since Covid started, when most of the communication went online, it is much more efficient.

I mentioned earlier that I started to enjoy the “po lako” culture. But sometimes. I still miss the real business world when everything is organized and punctual. I miss the procedures (I cannot believe I am saying this).

6. Given your experiences, what advice would you give to any would-be expat thinking of making the move?

I'm not a person who gives advice, because everybody has a different lifestyle and different cultural background. But for Chinese people who want to move to Croatia, I would suggest being patient. Things will be done. But it just needs more time. One minute of Croatian time is not one minute of Chinese time. We always need to find a way around and use the connections we have. If you don’t have one, build your connections. 

WhatsApp_Image_2022-05-25_at_4.12.25_PM.jpeg7. The most beautiful place in Croatia, and why?

I think there is no most beautiful place, only a more beautiful place. Each place is unique. My first visit to Croatia was to Dubrovnik, I thought this is the most beautiful place in Croatia, but when I arrived in Plitvice I felt a different beauty. The islands are all beautiful in their own way.  For me, the most beautiful place in Croatia is the island of Vis, the small yet authentic little town with amazing nature and rich history behind it. However, as I said before, Vis is my favorite place in Croatia for now, maybe in the future, I will have more discoveries.

8. Your favourite moment of your time in Croatia?

I have had many memorable moments in Croatia. The favorite ones are always the time spent with my favorite people. Weddings for sure. I have been to a few weddings in different locations. I enjoyed them all, the stunning view, and the cheerful people. The Christmas market on the Riva, back in 2015, and 2016 was special. I was working in one of the “kućica” on the Riva. In the cold winter, the atmosphere of the whole place was warm. Now they have moved the Christmas market to Đardin.

Are you an expat who would like to be featured in this series? If yes, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Subject Expat

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