Student essay: How I became an Ironman

For those who don’t know, Ironman is a triathlon discipline which combines marathon races from three basic sports: swimming, cycling and running. It is considered the hardest one-day race in the world. The history of how the distances for each of the disciplines were chosen says that on the island of Hawai, in the mid-70’s, athletes from local swimming and running clubs were debating who is more fit, runners or swimmers. At the same time, Belgian cyclist Eddy Merckx had the highest recorded oxygen uptake, so many people argued that cyclist are more fit than anyone else. In order to solve that debate, one U.S. Navy Commander decided to organize an event that would combine all three disciplines. Since the distance between the end of the already existing swimming competition, which was 3,8km long, and the beginning of the Honolulu Marathon route was 180km, the organizers decided to create a competition which would consist of 3.8 km of swimming, 180 km of cycling and a 42.2km marathon run.

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I would like to start my story by looking back to some 9 months ago while I was lying in a hospital. As many of you know, a year and a half year ago I had thyroid gland surgery. About one year after the operation I had to stay in a hospital for three days. That was a regular check-up procedure for a health issues I had. The procedure included taking a radioactive iodine pill and consequently spending three days in isolation. The only people I saw during those three days were the nurses who brought me meals and my parents, who were not allowed to enter the room and with whom I chatted through the window. While lying in bed for those 72 hours and I became aware of what a gift it is to be able to move. Therefore, I firmly decided that never again in my life would I take that gift for granted and that after leaving the hospital I would use that human ability to move as much as possible. Also, with a lot of time for contemplation, one strange idea came to my mind. If a human being is able to lie for 72 hours without getting tired, is it possible to be in such good shape that one can be involved in some kind of physical activity for 72 hours without getting tired? Logical, right? I know it is not, but I convinced myself it was, and that thought drove me forward.

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At that time I had already successfully finished two Olympic triathlons (approximately 4 times shorter than the Ironman triathlon) and one half Ironman triathlon. Since I didn’t have a coach, my only source of information about the Ironman triathlon was the internet. Surfing the net, I found out a lot of useful information, among them that the average time to prepare for Ironman is 8 to 12 months (assuming the person was physically active before). Since it was December, that meant it would be possible to apply for races held in the autumn. In addition to being held during that period of the year, there were two more requirements that I wanted the race to meet: for it to be near Zagreb, in order to minimize transportation costs, and for there to be a decent probability the weather would be good, which meant that the race had to be in the first two months of autumn. Surfing through the net a little bit more, I found the perfect date and destination: Balaton Lake, September 10th.

The first period of my preparation was spent mostly indoors. At that time I was focused on strengthening my muscles so as to minimize the possibility of injuries and prepare my body for the upcoming efforts. On average, in one week, I spent five days doing cross-fit training, one day running, and one day swimming. With spring approaching, and by building a strong foundation with muscle strength, I was ready to focus on endurance trainings. So in the second period of preparation my average training week consisted of three days of cross-fit trainings, two days of running, one day of swimming, and one day of cycling. All in all, that was 12 hours of training per week. If I add to that different activities which are directly or indirectly connected with training, like stretching after the training or preparing special food, the majority of my free time was dedicated to preparing for Ironman. Consequently, even though I was enjoying every second of my training, I also had to sacrifice other parts of my everyday life and that was probably the hardest part. Now, I hope, you can understand why so many times I had to turn down your invitation to coffee or some other social gathering. Simply put, the day had too few hours.

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The start of the race was at 8 a.m., which meant I had to be at the start at 7 a.m. in order to organize everything I would need during the race, such as clothes, food, beverages, massage cream, etc. As in every triathlon discipline, swimming was the first one. The swimming course consisted of 4 laps, each 950 m long. Since the water temperature was 23 degrees, swimming wetsuits were allowed, so after warming up, I put on my wetsuit and was ready for the start. I started the first few hundred very carefully, since I didn’t want to be kicked in the face by someone’s leg. Luckily, that didn’t happen, and I could continue with swimming without worrying. After every lap we got out of the water, ran a dozen meters, and then continued with swimming. I had a pace of approximately 20 min/km, which I knew I could almost tirelessly follow during the whole 3.8km. That turned out to be true, and after 1 hour and 23 minutes I finished the swimming part. In the first transition, I equipped myself with isotonic drinks and dried figs and was ready for the 180-km bike journey.

The bike course also consisted of 4 laps, each 45 km long, and it was, given that Hungary is considered a very flat country, unexpectedly mountainous. Each lap had 500 m of vertical distance, so overall it was 2000m of ascents and descents. The hardest part of the bike course was the first 10 km of every lap, during which we reached the highest point of the course. The middle part had a lot of pace changes, since uphill and downhill parts had constantly exchanged. Therefore, the last part was the one in which we could relax our legs a little bit, and let gravity move us forward. As the weather was very demanding, with a cloudless sky and temperatures of around 30 degrees, I knew I had to drink even before I was thirsty. Otherwise I would risk dehydration and it is almost impossible to compensate for that later. So I drank an isotonic beverage every 10 km, and every 20 km I ate dried figs or energy bars, as they release carbohydrates immediately and therefore are a great source of energy.

Halfway through the first lap, where the refreshment point was located, I replaced empty bottles with full ones and continued towards the end of the first lap. There we were allowed to meet our families, which was great since I could break the loneliness and talk with someone. After every lap I stepped down from the bike to relax my legs, and I ate, drank and talked with my loved ones. Those breaks helped me a lot mentally, because I knew that after every lap I had my mom, my brother and my girlfriend to encourage me and supply me with everything I needed for the next lap. The other two laps went really well, and since now I already knew what to expect from the bike course I could create a tactic for when to push more or less. The last lap also went pretty smoothly. The only small problem I had was during the last 30 km. I started to feel uncomfortable sitting on the bike, so I decided to ride every uphill part in a standing position.

balaton iron man

Finally, after 7 hours and 20 minutes I finished the longest discipline, and “all” that was left was for me to run the marathon. The running part consisted of 16 laps, each 2637 m long. Unlike the the bike course, it was completely flat. In the few first laps, I made the only mistake that day, and it is the only part of the race that I regret. I drank an energy gel in the first lap, and I took one more in the third one. Unfortunately, my body couldn’t process so much food, and I started to feel digestion problems a few laps later. It happened because under such great effort, blood is primarily used to supply the body with the oxygen, not leaving enough blood to process food as easily as it can under normal conditions. Because of that, I lost more than half an hour, but after already spending 10 hours in the race, giving up was not an option. I knew this was my only chance to finish the Ironman race, and I didn’t want to waste it. So I proceeded despite those difficulties. I learned something from that mistake, and at the next refreshment points I only took water. Luckily, that proved to be good tactic.

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I kept cutting down the number of laps which were left to be run, and when I finished the eighth lap, it was mentally much easier. I knew that I had run more that I had left. In the meantime, the sun set, and the moon came out. In those conditions it was much easier to run. With a lot of thoughts going through my head, I made it to the last lap, during which I was accompanied by my girlfriend. At that moment, I knew that I was well below the time limit of 16 hours, so we spent the last lap half running and half walking, talking and just enjoying the unique moment. Finally, at 10:20 p.m., after an amazing 14 hour and 22 minute long journey, during which I drank 12 liters of liquid so as to keep me fueled, I crossed the line realizing I became something that 2 years ago I though only some superhuman could do. I became an Ironman. Immediately after the race, I received a finisher medal, which is for now hanging on the wall in my bedroom, as a symbol that, with the support of your family and friends, and with persistent and hard work, any goal, no matter how big, crazy or impossible seems at the first glance, is achievable.

Written by: Marko Primožić

Student essay: Reasons why people should travel

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you did not do than by the ones you did do”. For some people traveling is that thing. What makes people spread their wings outside their own country? Is it eagerness for adventure? Is it the monotony in their lives? Are they running away from their problems thinking that when you are away they don’t exist? On the other hand, what makes people stay at home? Are they afraid of leaving their safety zone? Are they afraid of meeting new people or do they just like the place they are? There is no right answer to either question, but it could be argued that you should try something outside your routine by traveling. You could benefit in one of the ways listed below.

One of the first reasons you can benefit from travel is from the fact that leaving home often broadens our perspective of poverty and wealth. The poorest people are sometimes the happiest people in the world. They can teach us what is important in our lives, which many of us have lost track of because we are preoccupied with unimportant things. Living without electricity, water or without the miracles of modern life make the poorest appreciate Mother Nature. Their treasure is in the simplicity of their lives. Sometimes, they have nothing to offer aside from their smiles but they do not complain and when you meet them you will grow to love them. After leaving all material things behind it is possible to enjoy the true meaning of living life as it is only possible to see clearly with the heart. Seeing how much happiness can be found in poorer countries is one way you can open your eyes to this.

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Further, being in such an environment helps people enjoy the little things in life such as sleeping beneath the sky, eating only food products which can be found in nature, and drinking mountain spring water, all of which make people start valuing things at home which they previously took for granted. People should try to live a simpler life away from technology, which is easier to do when traveling. They’ll discover that there is a real life out there in the world when away from it.

Another reason why people should travel is that vacations are good for the health. One study showed that social isolation increases the risk of dementia. What we do when we travel is we exercise our brain because we are engaging with the people around us and moving around. As the body needs exercise, the brain needs it too, to keep it young. The brain does not know what its age is; it just wants to be stimulated. Another study shows that loneliness is linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Taking a trip opens new environments to us; facing and resolving problems mentally stimulates our brain. Meeting new people on vacation can make us feel less lonely. Travel is wonderful exercise to stay mentally young and in good shape, so do not wait for retirement, take your chance now, go with the flow. Do not be burdened with exotic, far destinations, maybe happiness is just around the corner. Take a trip; you will see the benefits to your health. Your body and brain will feel younger and more energetic and you will feel that everything you have wished for is achievable.

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Finally, the best reason to travel is because in these turbulent times travelling connects families. Spending time together is such a rare thing and planning and going on a vacation is a valuable source of connection as spending time together is often considered a gift. Experience is often better than material things. One day, your children will live lives of their own and only memories of time spent together will always be written in your brain. These memories can never be stolen from your heart. Do not get attached to things, they can be stolen at any time. Go on a trip as a family instead of buying your children new things. Smile, cry, run in the rain, take photos– these are the things which you will remember, as new i-phone models keep on coming out. And then by the fireplace you will be leafing through photo albums, remembering the moments together and being grateful you did not buy your kids new shoes instead of spending time together as a family.

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Student essay: Why people cheat and how to prevent it

I caught my ex-boyfriend cheating on me a few years ago. At that time I asked myself – am I responsible for this? What am I doing wrong? What was his reason for cheating? In the end I concluded I wasn’t completely responsible, he was more so, but I realized I had given him the opportunity to cheat, on top of other reasons I think he already had. I believe people cheat for a number of main reasons and that understanding those reasons can help us prevent cheating from happening.

Some people are in bad relationships and they look for closeness with others. Some just cheat because they can’t be faithful to one person. But even those who are not in bad relationships can find themselves cheating or being cheated on. Sometimes all it takes to turn a faithful partner into a cheater is opportunity. It’s possible for someone who’s in a long-term relationship (about 10 to 15 years) to change surroundings and meet new people who have the same interests as they do. This can be an opportunity to cheat. Especially at work, because most people spend a minimum of eight hours there and they know their colleagues better than their partners. Today we spend more time with people at work than with our family. It’s no wonder that cheating is most common among co-workers. Opportunity is first step which can “help” people start cheating.

Why people cheat and how to prevent it

Another reason why people cheat, one that often arises before an opportunity, is that they feel their partner is taking them for granted. They might feel that way if we start to distance ourselves from them and don’t show our emotions or share everyday events. This can be a way to push our partner away from us. All people need attention; we shouldn’t take that for granted because they are with us. Today, it is very important to tell your partner everything, but what’s most important is to listen to your partner; he/she will have needs and wishes. Don’t let your significant other think you are taking them for granted.

Similarly, we should tell our partners if we are not happy with something. If we can let them know that something isn’t good in the relationship we might be able to “fix it”. It is easier to have a good relationship with an honest person by your side. What is the main reason for distance in relationships? If my boyfriend tells me that he wants to spend more time with me, I need to be aware of what that means and if I want our relationship to succeed I need to find time only for us. If we want to be in a “healthy” relationship we need to be open with our partners and be prepared to compromise.

Why people cheat and how to prevent it

Those are some situations which are preventable. A tough reason for cheating to prevent is if a partner has a sex addiction. If this is the case it is hard to change their habits. They just enjoy life, and don’t care about other people. One of the reasons for that behaviour, as I mentioned above, is focusing on ourselves and having the opportunity. If a sex addict is not happy with their partner in a relationship, and if they have bad sex, they will probably look for one part of happiness through sex with someone else.

Fortunately, in spite of all these situations which might give rise to cheating, there is a way to prevent it. Bad relationships or lifestyles don’t have to be a reason to cheat. We need to communicate, share happiness and sadness, and trust each other. Only with true honesty are we able to have good relationships and only then can we expect our significant other to be faithful only to us. If you have everything in one person, including honesty — the possibility to say everything without fear of judgment — you will be faithful to one person. Be honest in general. It’s the only way you can keep people from cheating.
Written by: Vesna Jurilj

Student essay: Irritating types of people at the gym

Everyone who has ever been to a gym knows there are certain types of people that irritate you more than others. They are people you can’t stand because they are violating some norms of fair behavior among a group of people. Here is a list of different types of people who drive me crazy.

1. Mobile phone guys
This group encompasses the ones that have mobiles with them all the time. Ok, there is nothing wrong with keeping your phone in your pocket, because today our lifestyle is dependent on mobile phones and you never know when your boss will call you. But there are certain people that have to send a message to a friend, or even worse, chat with him between every two exercises.

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I don’t know if I got it right, but going to a gym should mean that you want to take some time off from your social network of friends and spend it by yourself in order to do something good for your health or relax after a tough day. What’s even worse, texting or talking on the phone all the time can really irritate other people, because while you are texting/talking, someone else could be using your machine and do the exercises he wants.

2. I-know-everything guys
There is no way you have gone to the gym and haven’t met this type. Those are usually the ones that go to the same gym for a dozen of years, but absurdly, they doesn’t look fit at all. They will regularly come up to you and start to theoretically explain everything to you. Literally everything. There is no muscle in your body for which they don’t know at least three exercises. I mean, thank you, but if I need advice, there is a trainer at every gym whom I can ask. You will especially be a target of these I-know-everything guys if you are a girl who has recently enrolled in the gym. If so, may you rest in peace, because those guys will kill you with their suggestions.

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3. Thinly clothed guys
I know the majority of people go to the gym to build their muscles in order to look good. Basically, I can’t argue with that, because we all want to look good. But want I can and want to argue against are the ones who wear specific clothes in order to look good. For example, those who wear close-fitting, tiny clothes so as to look more muscular.

I mean, if you are really strong, we will notice it even if you wear normal clothes. In those tight/tiny clothes, you just look like a giant penis in a condom. It’s awful. Also, men who only wear undershirts and women who only wear sport bras also belong to this group. I know you want to show off what a well-shaped body you have, but please keep those clothes for a beach. A good body just isn’t an excuse for looking slutty.

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4. I’m-in-love-with-myself guys
You will easily notice them since 90% of the time they spend at the gym is within view of a mirror. There is no pause between two exercises which they won’t spend looking at how big their muscles are. If you are unlucky, and there are two of them at the same time when you are at the gym, there is a likelihood they you will have to go to the toilet due to needing to throw up. Because the conversations and comparisons they make can’t be stomached by even by the most experienced gym-goers. They will compare every single muscle on their body and will pose in every single position in the front of the mirror. So the best option for your psychological state is to move as far away from them as possible.

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5. The-world-is-mine guys
Overcrowded gyms are a big problem, but you can’t do anything about it. But even that would be easily tolerable if this group knew how to behave at the gym. These are the ones who, when they install themselves at some machine, won’t move until they finish with it. They are the most arrogant people at the gym, the ones that think their work-out schedule is the Bible. For them it doesn’t matter that their exercise may last one minute, and then there is a five-minute break during which five other people could use the same machine without causing any complications to the exercise schedule of the first guy. What matters for them is that their ass has the convenience of doing whatever they want, because somehow the gym is only for them.

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6. I’m-the strongest-one guys
This group is comprised of gym rats who know the gym better than their homes. They spend half of their free time at the gym and, to be honest, they look really strong. It is more or less the same population as from point 4 of this article. They want to let everyone know how strong they are and aim to be the strongest person at the gym. Which doesn’t make sense. Because only one person is the strongest, and by scanning the gym you can be pretty sure which one it is. So there is no need for trying hard to stand out to show it’s you. And if you are THE ONE, there is a big possibility that you look awful. Because looking strong doesn’t mean looking good. It just means that a long time ago you crossed the line that divides the good-looking-fit guy from awful-muscled-bodybuilder guy.

Written by: Marko Primožić

Student essay: Facebook – The unbearable lightness of communication

My first association with social networks is Facebook. Not because it was the first social network I used, but because sometimes I am frightened of this kind of the information sharing.

Every morning with my morning coffee I follow a routine on my mobile and check my Facebook profile. This is my standard routine, but I had to ask myself the question — why do I do it? Is it just a habit or do I actually need insight into other people’s lives? After pondering this every morning for a number of days, I concluded that I have a brain filled with a bunch of irrelevant information, and I wonder – why?

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Without going too deep into self-analysis (I’ll leave that to the experts), what briefly follows is an outline of what I noticed irritates me the most with 925 of my friends (btw some of them would not even recognize me on the street, maybe we run into each other every day and don’t even recognize each other?).

1. The daily report on where you have been, with the “Selfie”- I really do not know why anyone has the need for everyone to know where they are all the time. Isn’t it a little sick? What ever happened to privacy?

2. Food photos – we all eat and live off of food – it is not something that we should be proud of while millions are starving in the world—is that not hypocritical? … Anyway, ćevap photos early in the morning are probably not a favorite picture for my vegetarian Facebook friends.

3. The wise man- this many wise sayings and thoughts in one place, from the most base to the most spiritual, can only be found on Facebook. It’s not about wise issues and the need to discuss them, but only the desire to express one’s intellect and understanding of wisdom, which may sometimes not be very competent (wow, an interesting post by my “friend”: “I know no one will read this post, but I live in the hope that someone will … ” What did she want to say with this post? Perhaps she is unfortunate, secluded, abandoned, or is she just trying to attract attention???

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4. Pictures of the coolest women– this refers to my male friends. Guys, to the average women like me, it is not clear what kind of message you are sending out with this. Would it not be better to make your own website, and gather people with similar interests there?

5. Children’s pictures-I’m a proud mum too but dear mothers, I don’t really care about how solid your children’s poop is or about their feeding progress. That part of their life is something I share with my family and non-virtual friends. And I don’t know what you mean with these posts—that your child is better than others because he is already eating carrots? Don’t forget that many moms will be unhappy because their child is still not eating carrots—you will create quite a lot of discontent among the population of mothers.

That still doesn’t cover all the silliness I encounter on a daily basis by taking a peek into the lives of my virtual friends. Unfortunately, in the end I need to admit that no matter how boring my Facebook friends can be, and how much they terrorize all their friends on a daily basis, from time to time I catch myself getting engaged and realize that these little details from other people’s lives interest me in some strange way and complement my already busy daily life.

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Technological development has left its mark, so even those of us who in our childhood peered through the windows of neighboring houses, looking for some attractions from the lives of our neighbors (my neighbor makes great šnenokle and I always thought she used a secret ingredient, so I used to peek through her kitchen window) have also became curious about other people’s lives, especially in that part of life that our virtual friends present on Facebook.

Whether or not this is good, and whether these lives are real, or the imaginary ones we’d like to be living, is up to each of us to assess. And I’m still happy to peek through your neighbor’s window and catch glimpse of at least part of their real life.

Written by: Danijela Stjepanović

Student essay: Why funny pick-up lines work

These days, guys need to be pretty creative when approaching a girl, since it is no longer enough to knock her down with a bat and to drag her into a cave. The thing is that expectations grow in every field of life, so it is no wonder that new ways of flirting are also required. This is where creativity takes the stage, and where only the best, or the craziest, are applauded. Creating the right strategy for making a move on someone can be tough work, since people are different and their reactions can be unexpected. For those who don’t care that much what others will think of them, this is not much of a problem. However, most us are not that loaded with self-esteem, so starting a conversation with someone we like is quite a challenge. But what better reaction can we get than a sincere, big old laugh. This of course doesn’t imply that you succeeded in your intention but it’s a pretty good start.

When it comes to creating funny lines, Croatian guys show some real effort; they even use current affairs, so if you’re at a disco in Zagreb, you might hear something like: “Hey girl I’d tap you like a farmer taps incentive funds”. Of course this is an absurd line, but if you heard it, it would be hard not to laugh. Using such obnoxious terms is what makes it so low-minded that you can’t even take it seriously, so the natural reaction would be to laugh, although it depends on the tone and the situation, because it could result in a slap on somebody’s face. This may not be the best illustration of what a good pick up line should be like, but it covers the humor part, and also, by being so silly, it makes you feel like the other side has no expectations whatsoever, so you don’t feel the jitters potentially involved when flirting.

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Real humor is rare. A lot of people try to be funny, but only a few really are and that’s what makes it such a desirable quality. The trick is in being spontaneous, because the thing with humor is that you really do not want to overdo it. What I mean is, when somebody tries too hard, it is visible, and it’s more sad than funny. Some people were born funny, and it’s a unique kind of talent. Like other talents, it can be trained to some extent, but you can’t train to become Jim Carrey.

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Corny pickup lines that comment on someone’s good looks don’t work, the trick is to start a conversation, not to create an awkward silence. As I already said, the most important thing is to be as light-hearted/playful as you can, because you don’t want to scare the other person away, even if that means hiding your true intentions. There is no need tobare your soul out when you are first trying to contact someone.

The most casual line I recently heard was: “Hey, aren’t you a friend of Anabela’s?” The line was supported by absolute euphoria and a proud look in the guy’s eyes for having recognized Anabela’s friend, then followed by a look of great disappointment when he realized he mistook the girl for someone else. And then, after the well-played scene, when you almost start sympathizing with the guy, he comes back with: “But if you’re not Anabela’s friend, who are you?”. So simple, but also funny, as well as naturally followed by a conversation, and if the guy is also attractive, who knows?

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Since girls are, at least traditionally, the prey in this hunt, to get the answer we need to pick through their brains a bit. Why do girls like funny guys? Is it because of their fear of something serious? Or because they relate humor to self-confidence or even the bad boys that they all secretly crave for? Or is it just because of their bad taste, and their lack of better criteria? I bet we could find pretty ridiculous explanations for this phenomena. But before we attempt any further “serious” psychoanalsis that will all result in the conclusion that women are complicated creatures anyway, we could take into consideration the possibility that there is a simple explanation for it all. Cyndy Lauper sums it up in a song that goes: “Girls just wanna have fun.” And it really is simple as that. Women don’t always over-analyze things, sometimes they just want to laugh and have a good time. So put your instruments down, ’cause there won’t be a lobotomy, at least not today.

Written by: Mia Blatančić

The worst customs at Croatian weddings

The worst customs at Croatian weddings

By: Marko Primožić

Weddings are occasions on which, at least in my opinion, people of any nation show their best and worst. Generally speaking, there are many good customs at Croatian weddings, but somehow the bad ones can significantly overshadow the good ones. They are eyesores in what is supposed to be a celebration of love and cannot in any way be connected with the decision that two young people made to perpetuate their love. Here is a list of just a few of them (they are listed chronologically as they happen as the wedding proceeds, not by the level of disgustingness/nonsense):

1

Bachelor party:

The first thing whose concept is not understandable to me is not only a Croatian custom, but every nation’s custom, and it happens a few weeks before the wedding ceremony. The bachelor party. What is the point in having a party with only boys involved? The only rational argument that can come to mind would be so that the guys can do things they wouldn’t do in front of the girls. But the problem is I can’t think of even one example of such a thing. Maybe drinking enormous amounts of alcohol without being criticized by girlfriends? No, because, let’s be honest, the majority of them don’t give a s**t about it, because, you know, this is the first and only time your friend is getting married and you can do whatever you want (what a reason!!). On the other hand, the minority who actually care about it would do it anyway, pretty much because of the same reason (the only difference is that this kind of boy would be sorry about it the next day). Maybe the reason for the boys-only-party would be to be able to behave as foolishly as you want? I don’t think so, since they also do it at parties when girls are involved. Maybe because they want to rent a stripper. Still a poor argument, because your fiancé would found out about it sooner or later.

Still, even though I can somehow accept the necessity of a bachelor party as an only-boys-are-allowed-to-come-party because it is a tradition and you are not supposed to analyse its reasons, what about bachelor parties joined with bachelorette parties? By doing this, the whole concept is crushed and it doesn’t make any sense at all.

2

Congratulating the parents

The second fact I want to discuss happens immediately after two young people say Yes. After the wedding ceremony is finished the crowd comes to the newlywed husband and wife and congratulates them. But what really irritates me is that they also congratulate their parents. Now, I would like someone to explain to me why on earth the parents are getting credit for it. Maybe because they gave birth to them, but that is something that you congratulated them for a long time ago, when they were actually born. It’s not like the parents went from house to house looking for their son’s/daughter’s wife/ husband. It was purely their children’s decision and the parents have nothing to do with it. And if they did, that’s even worse, because obviously they persuaded them to marry someone and that is not something to congratulate them for. I understand the custom is left over from the times when parents were actually partly in charge of finding a spouse for their children, but come on, we are in the 21st century now, not the 15th. Times have changed.

3

Waving the national flag and honking during a parade

Waving a Croatian flag while you are driving from the church or courthouse to the restaurant where the wedding reception is taking place is also at the top of my nonsense list. Again, my mind can’t see the connection between two young people loving each other and a Croatian flag. As the name says, the national flag represent the nation, and is held when you achieve something in the name of your country. And what is achieved in the name of the nation during a wedding ceremony? Yes, I agree, nothing. So please stop the prostitution of the Croatian flag.

Another thing that bothers me during the parade from the church to the restaurant is the constant honking. Ok, it is a special day for the bride and the groom, and also a special day for their families and friends, but is it for the rest of the world? They just want to live their usual lives, and really don’t care at all about the wedding of two out of 6 billion people they don’t know/strangers. Perhaps the intention of honking is to make others happy because of the wedding, but by honking all the time, you just make them nervous and angry. So please, next time, don’t be a bumpkin. Be happy and share it with your friends but leave others alone.

4

The way presents are given

The last custom I don’t like is how presents are given. At the majority of weddings I have gone/been to, the procedure is that at some point in the night an announcement is made asking people to form a queue to hand presents to the bride and the groom. Consequently, people form a queue they stand in waving around envelopes full of money. Obviously not everyone thinks this, but to me that custom seems inelegant, not to say heinous. It looks like people are just about to bet on some sports match or like they want to show how much money they have. Wouldn’t it be more elegant to just have one bag in the corner where people can/would insert their envelopes whenever they want?

Not only does the way presents are given bother me, but the way greeting cards are written does too. You usually put money inside the envelope and the signed the greeting card. Personally, I think unsigned cards are much more polite. In Croatia (and I believe in many other countries) cards are singed so that the bride and groom know how much money they should give you when you will be getting married. But it shouldn’t be like that. The present is given to show your appreciation and love. And everyone will give as much as they can afford. Of course, with unsigned envelopes you leave space for receiving empty ones. If someone wants to do it, go ahead, it will be to your disgrace.

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