DCHS welcomes Slovakian exchange student


Photo by Kasey Stallbaum

Senior Viktor J. stretches with the cross country team before practice. Viktor J. is from Slovakia and is attending DCHS for the year.

Becca M.

Am I crazy for doing this for ten months?!

This thought was running through senior foreign exchange student Viktor J.’s head as he flew over to an unknown world in the U.S from Bratislava, Slovakia.

“When I was in the airplane, I thought I would regret it,” Viktor J. said.

A month since his plane touched down and he swallowed his first breath of  American air, Viktor J.’s mind has since changed. Loving every minute of it now, Viktor J. said he is experiencing so many different things here in the U.S.

Viktor J. never thought he would become a foreign exchange student. He said he prefers to stay at home, and his quiet personality made him scared to enter such a loud country.  He was skeptical of the opportunity, but having a sister who was a foreign exchange student for two years gave him the confidence to jump the great puddle.

His doubts and fears were quickly soothed after meeting his host parents Linda and Jim Ostry of Bruno, along with another senior foreign exchange student Mark K. of Germany.

On the first day of school, Viktor J. said he was anxious. He explained how utterly different school is here in the U.S for him. In Slovakia, Viktor J. doesn’t start school until September and his days begin at 9:15 a.m. and end around 4 p.m.

“I had 13 or 14 different subjects and we didn’t have them every day. Maybe math four times a week and geography two times a week,” Viktor J. said, describing school back home.

Not only is school very different for him, but so is the food. Coming from a country where the most popular dish is Bryndzove halushky, potato dumplings with sheep cheese and roasted bacon, Viktor J. decided to try a taste of American cuisine:  a hamburger. Viktor J. said he enjoys hamburgers and  also enjoys the many kinds of candies not available in Slovakia, including M&M’s, Skittles, and even many kinds of cookies.

“You guys have lots of kinds of cookies I love. The cookies are awesome! You have like crunchy cookies, chewy cookies. They are good!” Viktor J. said.

Viktor J. is also fascinated by the ordinary snack of apples with peanut butter. Having never even heard of it prior to traveling to the U.S., Viktor J. said he hesitated to try the snack because he thought it sounded terrible, but he found out that he actually finds it quite delicious. He is also intrigued by the fact that in the U.S., we have many different kinds of salad dressings.

Cultural differences from Slovakia also play a key part in Viktor J.’s adventure in the U.S. One thing Viktor J. noticed here in the U.S. is that most doors to rooms and classrooms stay open unlike in Slovakia where doors are always closed. In the U.S. we are free to walk into a room even if the door is closed. Viktor J. also described the people as much different.

“Here everyone is more polite when speaking with you. It’s much different. People are more friendly,” Viktor J. said.

He has adapted to people talking with him and it has helped him break out of his shell and try new things. Viktor J. is participating on the cross country team this fall and is considering going out for track in the spring.

Viktor J. has the physique of a cross country runner, but surprisingly, this is his first time trying it. In Slovakia, his hobbies included: tennis, swimming, floorball (which is like hockey), and horseback riding.

“I think that it is great that Viktor and Mark are participating in activities. They have both expressed to me that they want the year that they are here to be the best year of their lives, and a great way to do that is to be involved in everything that they can to get the most out of this great opportunity that they have,” said senior Hope R., a friend of Viktor J.

Mark K., who also lives with Linda and Jim Ostry, is another addition to our school who also is getting involved. This fall, Mark K. is playing football and plans to play another winter sport. Viktor J. and Mark K. enjoy living together for this school year and have already done many activities together.

“I have never had a brother before, so it’s kind of unusual for me. I’m looking forward to more activities that we will do together,” Viktor J. said.