Arsenija Zlaticanin of Montenegro is an exchange student staying with Zona and Mike Carlton of Fence, Wis.
NIAGARA, Wis. - Arsenija Zlaticanin of Montenegro is one of the nine exchange students attending Niagara High School through the International Exchange program.
Arsenija comes from Sutomore, a city of about 4,000 people located in the south on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea. She said it's very different from her host home in Fence, Wis.
"I grew up by the sea, and very nice weather. While here, there is no sea and it is extremely cold. That is something I didn't expect."
Montenegro is a small country located in southeastern Europe with more than 600,000 residents. It is bordered by the Adriatic Sea to the southwest, Croatia to the west, Bosnia and Herzegovina to the northwest, Serbia to the northeast, Kosovo to the east and Albania to the southeast.
She is staying with Zona and Mike Carlton. Her host mother is an elementary school teacher in the Niagara School District and her host father works at a paper mill. Her host sister, Jenna, is in the U.S. Navy.
"I got really lucky when it comes to my host family. They have been more than wonderful," she said.
There are six in her family back home. Her dad, Blagoje, 47, has his own business making doors and windows out of aluminum. Her mom, Mirela, 41, is a stay home mom, and she takes care of everything else, Arsenija said. Her older sister, Dajana, 21, is a student and lives in Phoenix, Ariz. Her two younger sisters, Bozana, 14, and Tijana, 12, are students in elementary school and involved in sports.
"The culture is very different so it makes it unique, and it really makes me see how life in the States is," she said of America.
School in the U.S. is also very different than back home. "We don't have sports and clubs within the school, but if anyone is interested in sports there are clubs in the city." She was involved in volleyball and karate back home and in Niagara participated in volleyball, basketball and plans to run track.
"In high school back home, we don't have many rules. Here everything is organized and students follow rules carefully, while back home students do what they want and it is not very effective when it comes to getting a good education."
She said the grading system is very different too. Teachers at Niagara use computers more and at Montenegro, teachers have a big notebook where everything is written.
"I love all the new experiences, learning English and meeting all these people," she said of her favorite things about being an exchange student. "But I hate the winter here. It's extremely cold."
Adjusting to the weather may have been a bit difficult, but otherwise the adjustment to living here has been easy.
"I thought it was going to be hard, but with the help of my host family, teachers and friends, I adjusted here very quickly."
She has also developed a taste for Taco Bell. "We don't have anything like it back home."
Arsenija has traveled to Illinois and Michigan and took a trip to Las Vegas during spring break.
She misses her family and friends the most. "I realized how much they mean to me now that they are so far away. I can't wait to see them and hug them again," she said.
She plans to return to Montenegro for the summer and then she will be moving to Phoenix, Ariz. to live with her sister, Dajana.
"I will be going to a community college first, then transfer to Arizona State University."
Marguerite Lanthier's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.