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Postcard from Croatia

Osijek is an average sized city in eastern Croatia (130 000 inhabitants, however, taking into consideration demographic proportions in Croatia, the city is one of the biggest) on the Croatian-Hungarian border. Historically located in Slavonia, by the Drava river. The river, picturesquely located and designed for inland navigaton, divides the city into two functional areas – recreational and another one of dual character – residential and service. It is recommendable to find some time to take a walk along the Drava boulevards, what maxes out the city’s recreational track, essentially.

We can find the beginnings of the city’s history in Roman Times (but the artifacts from this period are hardly findable), mainly of military character – what has precised the meaning of the area for long centuries, until the Napoleonic times.

Two important periods of the city’s development are: the Ottoman Empire and its dual function; military and mercantile (currently nonexistent Suleiman Bridge comes from this period) and Habsburg domination associated with the economic development of the area. We can admire magnificent examples of the Art Nouveau architecture, for example on the European Street in Osijek. Unfortunately, the buildings are seriously neglected, what is the result of high maintenance costs of the objects which are very often the properties of private owners. Except the Baroque and Art Nouveau city centre, the so-called Tvrđa (stronghold), the remains of Napoleonic fortress. Nowadays it is mainly the legal address of the local University (Josip Juraj Strossmayer University in Osijek), numerous cafés, museums.

A present-day Osijek is mainly a cultural and academic centre with developed petrochemical industry, production of agricultural machines, pieces of furniture, matches, building materials and a big sugar refinery – that corresponds well with a vast city surrounding. In the conversations with the University authorities the plans of creating the city as the Croatian Innovative Technologies Development Centre appear. The plan is ambitious, but also realizable, assumedly, so it is worth analyzing the idea deeper in the process of cooperation.

University of Osijek is not a new academic centre, but it has undergone diametric reorganisation recently, the new faculties have appeared, it is clear that it has included a lot of new study programmes. The University is quite vast academic centre with numerous faculties and picturesque locations.

All in all, I can regard my stay in Osijek as successful in every aspect. This place is a place of opportunities, a friendly atmosphere and attractive prices of provisioning. The place creates different atmosphere of studying, with an academic life divided into lecture halls, historic environment and cafes and restaurants offering local cuisine, creating at the same time the atmosphere of thought sharing typical for Austro-Hungarian tradition. I can warmly recommend the stay at the University of Osijek.

Aleksander Wolski, PhD of the University of Occupational Safety Management in Katowice