Andrea Erjavec, a 23-year-old fifth-year student of primary education at the Faculty of Education in Zagreb, Petrinja department, is in the final stages of preparation and packing for the global Miss Universe pageant, which will take place on November 18th this year in El Salvador. “I am very excited and can’t wait to embark on the adventure of a lifetime! I have never traveled outside of Europe before, and this will be a truly unique experience for me, not just because of the beautiful country I am traveling to, but also because of the opportunity to meet girls from nearly 90 countries,” Andrea told us. She won the title of Miss Universe Croatia 2023 at the end of May in the Emerald Hall of the Esplanade Hotel in Zagreb, and over the past five months, she has been preparing for the final competition. “Miss Universe has long been more than just a beauty pageant. The Miss Universe Organization, to us as the Directorate, and to our representative, provides numerous tasks and projects throughout the year that we must undertake, which entails much more work for us. But it is also an opportunity for each girl to represent her country and the projects she works on, things that are important to her as a person,” said Marija Kraljević, director of Miss Universe Croatia. This year, the Miss Universe Organization, in collaboration with Mouawad, a jewelry company from Thailand and sponsor of the crown, launched a special project, the “Voice for Change” competition, in which all this year’s contestants participate. “Each of us was supposed to choose a social issue that we care about and want to be ambassadors for, in order to ultimately help solve it and encourage others to help. My project is closely related to my profession: the education of young people and the care for their physical and mental health. For years, I have been observing my elementary school in Perušić and their struggle with the renovation of the sports hall, which has no heating or adequate equipment, so the children train in classrooms during winter. The second part of my project is to help rebuild the faculty building in Petrinja, which was severely damaged in the earthquake. The prize for each of the top three projects is $12,000, and I know that this money, if awarded to my project, will not solve these problems. But if I can make my small contribution, it will be immensely satisfying for me. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Marija and Vladimir Kraljević, who supported me, drove me whenever needed, and helped me with filming, as well as Marijo Paral, who provided us with his footage of Perušić by drone, and Igor Vignjević, who provided us with his footage of the Petrinja earthquake and helped with the editing,” Andrea said. Almost the entire summer, Andrea spent with the Directorate on shootings and other video materials for the global competition, and the main locations were in the Lika-Senj County, as Andrea comes from Perušić, and her faithful partner for numerous pleasant journeys, Nova rent-a-car. “We are immensely grateful to Mr. Ernest Petry, the county prefect of Lika-Senj County, and the Tourist Board of Lika-Senj County. They connected us with their colleagues in the Tourist Boards of Gospić, Otočac, Plitvice Lakes, Senj, Perušić, and Novalja, as well as the mayor of Novalja, Mr. Dabo, and thanks to them, we managed to shoot everything we needed,” said Vladimir Kraljević, the owner of the Miss Universe Croatia license. Andrea managed to use a short break between shootings for eye surgery at the Svjetlost Clinic, where she got rid of lenses and glasses, but even that did not hinder her from carrying out numerous activities. “I am really happy that I did it. I admit I was a bit nervous, and I was a little afraid, but Dr. Ivan Gabrić, who operated on me, explained everything to me before and during the operation, which was painless, and already the next day, I was able to return to my duties. I cannot describe to you the feeling when I could jump back into the sea without fear, dive, and enjoy swimming carefree,” she said. In addition to taking exams at the faculty, Andrea spent the summer at the Berlitz School for Foreign Languages, where she perfected her English, and at TT Exclusive gym, where she diligently exercised and maintained her fitness. She also found time for a makeup school, where the Bipa backstage makeup artists taught her the skill of professional makeup, and the Studio Marcela stylists taught her how to style her hair for daily activities and glamorous evening events. The natural beauties of Lika were the inspiration for the national costume that Andrea will wear in El Salvador, and Marija Kraljević introduced us to the details. “This year’s national costume is completely different from all before. Our inspiration was the natural beauty of Lika, where we have two national parks: Plitvice Lakes and Velebit, the Gacka River, the continental, green Lika that captivates us with the richness of all shades of green, and on the other hand, we have the rugged cliffs of Velebit and rocks that plunge into the crystal-clear sea and seem to emerge again on the island of Pag. The complete opposite of these bare rocks are the delicate yellow flowers of Velebit Degenia, a protected and endemic plant, which is the central part of the costume. To give the costume a touch of tradition, Andrea will wear an original Lika cap on her head.” In addition to the national costume and the necessary clothing and footwear, Andrea will also bring gifts for the other girls in her suitcases. “I am carrying many gifts prepared by the Croatian Tourist Board: there are licitar hearts, lavender sachets, and environmentally friendly canvas shopping bags. I am immensely grateful to them for everything. In addition to gifts for the other girls and hosts, in El Salvador, I will bring daily and formal dresses from Bariba, Baldinini shoes, and Pletix swimsuits. Of course, a special place in the suitcase is reserved for the evening dress by Matija Vuica that I will wear in the final, and with which I will wear jewelry from Zlatarna Dodić. I will also pack makeup, for which I thank Aura Cosmetics for providing me with everything I need, Silky hair care products, and premium Viviene Estetic creams, as my skin will surely need quality nourishment and rest from all-day makeup,” Andrea added with a smile. Although Andrea has only a few exams left until graduation, she is already looking forward to continuing her education and enrolling in an MBA program at the Zagreb School of Economics and Management next fall. We can only wish Andrea a safe journey, much success in the Miss Universe global competition, and a great time in El Salvador. And yes, you can vote for her through the Miss Universe mobile app. The competition is truly fierce, and you can see some of the most beautiful women in the world in the photo gallery. You can follow all the events related to Andrea’s participation in the global competition on social media: Facebook: facebook.com/MissUniverseCroatia, X: @MissUniverseCro, and Instagram: @missuniversecroatiaorg. MISS UNIVERSE® is the most prestigious beauty pageant in the world with a 72-year tradition, owned by JKN Global Media Public Company Ltd., headquartered in Thailand, which deals with the distribution of copyrights for content that has garnered high viewership on television. The winner of MISS UNIVERSE® lives in New York for one year and collaborates with various organizations in the fight against the spread of HIV and AIDS, becoming a goodwill ambassador to the UN. The Miss Universe® competition is watched live or through recordings by up to a billion people in 180 countries worldwide. The current Miss Universe® is 28-year-old R’Bonney Gabriel from the United States, an environmentally conscious fashion designer, model, and sewing instructor who loves life. She graduated in fashion design from the University of North Texas in 2018 and is currently the president of her sustainable fashion brand, R’Bonney Nola.