Through eyes of Croatian, with love
By Andrew Lyons-Stillman
Special to the Deseret News
Monday, May 6, 2002
Ivona Josipovic is a 16-year-old foreign-exchange student from
Zagreb, Croatia, currently attending West High in Salt Lake City.
Deseret News: Ivona, when did you first come to the United States and why?
Ivona Josipovic: In August. I came here as an exchange student to
graduate high school and get introduced to American culture before I go to
college. I want to study here.
DN: What was your initial impression?
Ivona: I was surprised. It wasn't the image from all the movies.
DN: What image is that?
Ivona: That this is the land of opportunity; that everything is fun
and entertaining. That there are no rules or restrictions. But guess what
— there are!
DN: What is your favorite thing about living in America?
Ivona: School is pretty good. So many nice people. And shopping!
Shopping; I like shopping. I love Banana Republic.
DN: What is your overall impression of Utah?
Ivona: It is a very traditional community — very family-oriented.
Not the European style.
DN: What is the European style?
Ivona: It is much more free. Teens in Europe are treated as adults.
Here, I can't do anything without a legal guardian. But at least I can
DN: When can you drive in Croatia?
Ivona: When you are 18. . . . But you can do anything else (as a
teen.) In Europe, all industries — food, entertainment, etc. — are
oriented around teens. Live entertainment over there is all about us; here
DN: What do you miss most about Croatia?
Ivona: I miss my family and friends, and I miss senior year. (In
Croatia), when you're a senior, you don't do much in school. Instead,
there are all sorts of social events. Like when you graduate, we have a
day where you can do whatever you want without any legal restrictions —
graffiti, break things, stuff like that. (Pause.) And I miss the food!
DN: What food here do you like?
Ivona: Frozen yogurt. We didn't have it in Croatia. But there is too
much fast food here . . . it's all artificial. All the apples are the
exact same shape and size, all shiny and perfect.
DN: A lot of American students don't know anything about Croatia.
What is it like?
Ivona: Croatia is a former part of Yugoslavia, and it kind of
connects with central and southeastern Europe. There is a much more
European government and lifestyle (than here). There are beautiful beaches
— it is the best country to go for summer vacation! The best country in
the world. It is very connected to other European countries. I would like
to stay in the U.S. for college, but if I do, I'll go back to Croatia every summer.
DN: Where would you like to go to college?
Ivona: On the East Coast, in Boston or New York. Boston is beautiful
and historic. And there is a big Croatian community in New York.
DN: Do you have any advice to give to American teens?
Ivona: For an international country, we have a lot to gain. Our
culture has so many opportunities that American kids aren't aware of. Be
sure to take advantage of them!
Andrew Lyons-Stillman is a senior at West High School. If you are a Utah
high school student and would like to comment on this article, send an
e-mail to email@example.com or a letter to the Deseret News, attention:
© 2002 Deseret News Publishing Company