It’s just another day in Croatia. You can’t say what is the messiest thing in our everyday lives – the traffic, political scene, our educational system? Wherever you look around, you can see holes in the system, little peace-eating bugs that destroy never accomplished harmony our modern society strives to achieve. I sometimes feel like Croatian society simply isn’t destined to ever become like the Swedish one.

Imagine that one day, by the click of a button, all Croatian economic problems would be solved? Overnight, we got competitive industry, well-paid jobs, the unemployment rates dropped to normality. Imagine that one day, we get political system that isn’t stuck in history and actually wants for our country to make some progress. Imagine that our living standard becomes normal for every member of society and that somehow, when Croatia is mentioned, it is thought about it as some fancy Scandinavian country like Sweden.

Wouldn’t that be nice? Yes, but listen to another side of the story! Firstly, people would actually have to work! There would be no more excuses, such as the low payment or bad working conditions, and you have to work. I can think of so many people who would find this devastating. There would be no more “uhljebi”. It is a term for people who work in state firms, get paid, but don’t actually move a little finger to do anything. Whole families of political party leading people get enormous paychecks for this. Secondly, tax money would have to be invested wisely. Oh no! No more official apartments, cars, extras on the payment. Education, public health and infrastructure would be places where money of all our citizens would end up… I know, it sounds terrible. Thirdly, we would have to obey laws. If there’s some written law, it applies to every single citizen. You can no longer be the excuse just because you can pay extra money. Sounds terrible. You can’t pay the judge a little bit and be excused for murder (if you think this isn’t possible, check out the recent “Horvatincic case” that happened in September, 2017 in  Croatia. The list could go on forever, but I think you can catch the point.

I believe that the way Swedish society and laws function is great. I have a feeling that you can feel safe and that you can believe in the system. You don’t feel like the government is completely useless and non-educated like Croatian one. I like the way how things generally work, but I should have definitely stayed a bit longer to be more informed about the details. Everything seems to be fixed and pretty fair to all citizens. It was big difference for Croatia, and it is a long way for us to get closer to Sweden. But I also believe that one day we can make it possible. That is why these European projects are so important – they allow us, young people, to see how things can be better. We could have seen how future is out there, and how we have to create better one for ourselves. Nobody is going to do it for us. Trip to Sweden really changed the way I look at the world and I am happy about changing it!

Marta Paladin, Vladimir Prelog Science School, Zagreb, Croatia