Female American Footballer Talks Coffee Culture, Beauty, and 'Đir' in Split

By 21 November 2018

"Croatia is even more beautiful than I thought, and it fascinates me that you have so many cafes and know how to enjoy yourselves," said the 24-year-old from New Jersey about Split. 

Nickolette Taylor Driesse was born in Wayne, New Jersey, USA - but she’s recently brought her life to Croatia, writes 100 Posto on November 21, 2018. 

The 24-year-old American has settled in Split where she plays football for the women's football club ‘Split’. The Split team has made a giant leap forward in recent years and has crept up to Osijek, a club that dominates women's football more than Dinamo in the men's competition. Last season, the Split club kicked out Osijek from the Cup, and this year, they’re after the double crown. 

Nickolette plays as a midfielder on the team and shared her impressions of the Croatian First League, Split, and Croatia. 

To start, how did Nickolette choose Split as the first foreign club in her career?

“I have been playing football since I was 4 years old. I have two older brothers who played football and I started to play with them. They planted that love of football and since then I can’t be without the ball. Later, I joined women's clubs and here I am in Split,” Nickolette said, and continued:

“One day my agent was contacted by the Sports Director of Split. He said they saw a video of me playing and they would love for me to join. I did not think long. I just thought, 'Why not? Let's try it' and I came here.”

Prior to her arrival in Split, she did not know much about Croatia, but the success of Luka Modrić & Co. in Russia was a strong invitation.

"I talked to my friends who also played football and they advised me to go to Croatia. I did not know too much about the country. I knew just what I saw at the World Cup in Russia. All of my friends told me that they only heard the best things about Croatia and that it was a beautiful country. I researched it more on the internet and became more attracted to the idea of coming here,” said Nickolette, who did not regret her decision.


“The people are really very kind. I did not expect everyone to be so friendly. The city is beautiful. My two grandmothers came to visit, so I saw the city and the surrounding area with them. It's really wonderful. We went to the Klis fortress, which, just like the whole city, was very special. The amount of cafes you have fascinates me, as well as how popular they are. In America, we only have Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts, but here, there is a cafe and bakery on every corner - and it's all so fresh."

Nickolette also enjoys the food here, even though she has not been able to try everything Split has to offer. However, the footballer revealed that our McDonald's was better than the original one in America.

"I usually eat chicken and fish, and here it’s really good. I've been to McDonald's in Croatia only once, but I have to say it is much cleaner and tastier than in America, and you just have a better version of McDonald's than we do,” Nickolette said through laughter.

Nickolette’s team is thrilled she’s enjoying the city. 

"Some of them wondered why and how I came to Split, but most of all they all helped me with adapting and translating, they showed me the city and helped me get my bearings. What words have I learned? I know a few curse words, haha. I mostly know some basic words and greetings. I’m only missing my family in the United States, and  I think it's enough to say that the girls have taken great care of me and that the Croatians are great hosts,” added Nickolette. 

“I think people underestimate Croatia. People have the perception that it is a very small country, but I think everyone who has the opportunity must come here and take advantage of all that Croatia offers. You have a really beautiful country, and as I have already said, people are really very kind and accessible. For example, I’ve taken a lot of Ubers and I did not expect the drivers to be so friendly and so good at speaking English. When I was researching Croatia I saw that it was a wonderful country, but when I came here it was different. In reality, it is even more beautiful and somehow even more authentic. I can’t explain it."

This weekend is the biggest derby in Croatian women's football. Split will host Osijek at home, and Nickolette is ready and believes in her team's success.

"If we stay together as a team and focus only on being one, then we know that we can win. Now, I'm just concentrating on the game and want to help the team get the victory. I would like to play for a US team someday, but we’re going day to day and we'll see what will happen,” said Nickolette, who has played for the U-18, U-19 and U-20 teams in America.

"With the USA, I played the U-20 World Cup. This was a special experience. I was honored to be part of that team. I'm very proud of it. My effort and work were rewarded. Wearing your country's jersey is something that's really special and that's the goal for every athlete."

Finally, what are the biggest differences between the Croatian and American mentality? 

"People are much happier here and have time for themselves. In the United States, they are all in a hurry. But here in Croatia, people enjoy more and have more time for themselves. Croatians can enjoy the moment. The best example is at the cafes where it's nice to sit and drink coffee,” said Nickolette, who is still struggling to calculate meters and miles into kilometers. 

“I have not yet figured out how to calculate miles into kilometers, but with the currency, I usually do well. I have a rough idea of how much things costs. When someone tells me the price in kuna, I know how much it is. Croatia is far cheaper than the US. Coffee costs two dollars here, and at Starbucks, I would pay at least five dollars. And the food is a lot cheaper. What I would pay $100 for in the US costs me around $30 here. Can I live here? I do not know if I could really live here, but I will definitely return to Croatia for a vacation,” concluded Nickolette.

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