Host family life: FAQ’s

Barbara, left, and Sophia stand on the Great Lawn.

Amy Liu

Barbara, left, and Sophia stand on the Great Lawn.

Sophia Kontos, Staff Writer

In this column, host family sister Sophia Kontos discusses her experiences with Barbara Paić, this year’s exchange student from Croatia. Paić has joined the junior class.

At this point of the school year, most students find themselves drowning in the typical tidal wave of academic overload. Luckily, exchange student Barbara remains calm and unfazed amidst the stress. In fact, she shows more joy than worry, having completely integrated herself completely into the community.

Barbara actively seeks out social activities and has quickly made friends. She has gone to most of our football games and introduced herself to former presidential candidate Ted Cruz at one of them. One of her favorite classes is U.S. history because she has grown fond of her teacher, Eleanor Cannon.

While Barbara is well liked among her peers and teachers, being a social butterfly comes with a caveat. Inevitably, people are interested about her experiences in Croatia. She is often approached by curious students who bombard her with questions, some of which have fairly obvious answers that can be answered with a quick Google search. Hopefully, with this comprehensive list of questions, Barbara won’t have to keep repeating the same facts about herself on a regular basis.

Q: Which country are you from?

A: Croatia

Q: Where is Croatia?

A: On the Mediterranean coast, between the boot of Italy and the Peloponnesian peninsula.


Q: Where in Croatia are you from?

A: Zagreb, the capital of Croatia

Q: What language do they speak in Croatia?

A: . . . Croatian


Q: How do you say “Hello, my name is Barbara” in Croatian?

A: Bok, zovem se Barbara.

Q: What languages do you speak?

A: Croatian, English, Spanish, Italian


Q: How does it feel to be so far away from home?

A: It’s hard. Everything that I’m used to is gone, I am out of my comfort zone, put into completely new and different world. Of course I’m missing Croatia but I would say that I miss that feeling of being in the place that feels safe, place where I belong to, rather than people from there.

Q: What are the biggest differences between Texas and Croatia?

A: Texas is huge. Just the population of Houston is bigger than the population of the whole Croatia. You can’t go anywhere without a car here, which is completely opposite from Croatia, where you can go anywhere you want to because of the great public transportation. Further, schooling system is different. Our schools are much smaller, we don’t have things like Assembly or Chapel at all.


Because it’s halfway through the semester, most of the exchange-student hype has died down, but now I have started facing a deluge of questions. Most of them go along the line of, “How is living with the exchange student?” Well, it’s good, and we’ve found a routine. We’ve even figured out how to share the bathroom without getting in one another’s way. Honestly, I don’t entirely remember what it felt like without a fourth person in the house.

Barbara and I are looking forward to a week off from school. Stay tuned for a story about our first Thanksgiving together.