Living Leeside: Neven finds the best life has to offer in Cork

Living Leeside: Neven finds the best life has to offer in Cork

Neven Sumrak at the Cork International Hotel where he works as the night manager. 

The Young Offenders piqued Neven Sumrak’s interest in Cork and he tells Roisin Burke that since moving here he has been bowled over by the kindness he has encountered.

The scenery, sarcasm, and wit of The Young Offenders movie, released in 2016, were the inspiration for Croatian student and hotel night manager Neven Sumrak to make the move to Cork.

The 30-year-old, who is currently working at the Cork International Hotel and studying web development and coding with the Dublin Code Institute, said he saw the movie when it first came out. The story of two teenage boys from Cork who steal bicycles and ride off on a quest to find a missing bale of cocaine worth €7m, inspired him to research Cork as a place to live.

“I saw The Young Offenders when it first came out, and at that time more and more people had started to come to Cork from Croatia,” he said. “I researched and Cork seemed like a place to go.

“The scenery was great and I really like the English Market, it is very different. There are plenty of things to do in and around Cork, people are nice, there’s good work-life balance, and the airport is close by.”

Neven watched a lot of documentaries about Ireland and its history and he found it fascinating. Since moving to Cork two and a half years ago, he has not been disappointed.

'What stands out for me is Cork's energy'

“There are many things I like about Cork, but what stands out for me is Cork’s energy, especially on the weekends. People’s friendliness and the overall buzz and energy of the city when you go out on weekends is amazing.”

Neven said there is a toughness and niceness to people in Cork that really resonates with him.

“Although famously rebellious, people here are very nice,” he said. “It’s very noticeable when you come from somewhere else.

“When I first came to Cork, while setting up my documents, job, accommodation, I was very surprised by the kindness of all the people. I wouldn’t be where I am now without some amazing people.”

Working as the night manager at the Cork International Hotel for over a year, Neven said he enjoys his job and has a lot of time for his colleagues.

“I like the people and the staff. We are like one big family, everyone is very nice and there is a special atmosphere. Everyone is in a good mood even in hard times.”

Neven said the nature of the business had changed a lot over the past 12 months, migrating from holiday-makers and business people to essential workers and people quarantining after travel.

“Business is a huge problem, hospitality is struggling, but there are positives. You have more time to do jobs that would otherwise go ignored. Everything is looked after and sorted.”

While working in the Cork International Hotel, Neven is also studying part-time.

“I’ve always liked coding. I studied Computer Science back in Croatia, but I dropped out after a year. I could never afford to go to a proper school, but I am tech savvy. Coding can be hard, but if you understand the concept it is not that difficult and I have a good understanding of it.”

The student said he would like to work in web development part-time when he graduates.

“I like my job and I like coding, but I don’t think I could work in a cubicle full-time. I would like to work on my own projects in a freelance capacity.”

On the course Neven is learning to develop front-end web design along with back-end programming, giving him a versatile and useful skill set in time.

Neven, who has been with his Brazilian partner Rebeca for the past year and a half, is also learning to speak Portuguese through the app Duo-lingo.

“I am quite good at languages. I have conversational Portuguese now. I can chat away with Rebeca’s family, but I couldn’t really discuss deep issues like politics and things like that.

“I understand a lot and it is useful to have, but I am not fluent.”

Neven also has his best friend Josip who lives in the apartment below him in the St Luke’s area.

“I came over to Cork first and then he heard how I was getting on and how great everything was and he came over too.”

Work-life balance 

Neven thinks Cork has the best work-life balance in Europe and in pre-pandemic times had a lot happening.

“There is a special energy in Cork, I can’t really describe it. I suppose it is ‘the craic’. You have ladies in their 50s out for drinks beside young people and everyone knows each other. It is very relaxed.”

One of Neven’s favourite things to do in Cork is to go bowling with Rebeca.

“One of our first dates was bowling and I really enjoyed it. Rebeca is very good, she always beats me but I just like bowling and having a few drinks and some food. It is a nice night out.”

Comparing Cork to Croatia, Neven said while his home country is very beautiful and one of the top tourist attractions in the world, he said it is very corrupt behind the scenes and that is why so many people are leaving.

“Croatia is plagued by corruption in all industry and every aspect. People don’t want to wait for the country to mature.”

Neven has his parents and sister back home and is in regular contact with them. While he does miss his family, he said he does not miss Croatia.

“I try to visit twice a year, but it is how it is at the moment and I have to accept that.”

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