Heart Of Europe
Heart Of Europe
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Think Global, Act Local: From The Heart Of Europe To The North Of Normal

Photo By Kayleigh Omang

Dobrý Deň Community Members (Good Day in Slovak)

In this month of gratitude, I wanted to take the time to have my mind expanded with a well-traveled stellar person. It didn’t take too long to think of who could fit this description better than Lady Júlia Ozaniaková who hails from the heart of Europe. From Turany, Slovakia, the land of the picturesque high Tatras mountain range and castles such as the Bojnicky castle.

She came to the North of Normal city of Fargo to finish high school at Oak Grove then transitioned to Concordia where she is currently a senior double majoring in Business Econ & Data Analytics with a minor in International Affairs. I mean what else can she add to this terrific menu of degrees other than future Ambassador for Slovakia at the UN in New York!

Fun fact about Lady Júlia Ozaniaková is that she has been to 36 countries. Therefore, if you ever want to know anything about another culture or a foreign country from a first-hand experience: ask her! Chances are she has either been there or is planning to visit there soon!

Fargo is lucky to have her call America’s Heartland her home away from her Heart of Europe ancestral home. Until our humble paths cross again: Keep Smiling at Life! – Cyusa

Where have you all lived and what prompted you to move to Fargo?

My parents are very adventurous, so growing up, we would always travel around Europe. Throughout my life, I lived in Slovakia, the U.S., England and spent my summers at summer schools in Poland and Hong Kong.

I first started thinking about studying abroad in the United States during my freshman year at a bilingual high school in Martin, Slovakia. I admired the positivity and professional drive of my American professors. During my sophomore year, I spent a month in Chicago and absolutely loved it. Following that, the stars aligned and I received an opportunity to spend my senior year of high school at Oak Grove in Fargo. I believe that Fargo chose me and the 6-month winters really sealed the deal.

Where do you call home and since when have you called Fargo home? What has been your journey and what lessons have you learned in the FM area?

Heart Of Europe
Heart Of Europe

Both Slovakia and the United States are my home. However, I do sometimes find myself in a little identity crisis when I can’t really pick one place I feel closer to. Slovakia is a place where I grew up and that’s where my family lives. The U.S. is a place where I have spent four of the most transformative years of my life and have gone through major personal growth. I have become more independent, more confident and learned to better appreciate everything and everyone no matter where I may be.

The story of your favorite student group on campus.

My favorite student group at Concordia is Women in Business where I serve on the executive board. This club has only been active for little over a year now and it is amazing to see our accomplishments since then. Our mission is to create a community of inspiring women that motivate and support each other. We regularly host women leaders in our meetings and actively volunteer in our local community. Since entering a maledominated field as a woman can be challenging, we believe in creating a strong community of female leaders that support each other and strive for success.

Share some misconceptions of the Slavic/Central European countries (media impacting one’s opinion).

Slovakia is a beautiful country in the heart of Europe with a rich culture, gorgeous mountainous landscapes with glacier lakes and waterfalls and the most castles per capita in the world!

In my experience, I have found that many people do not know much about the Slavic or Central European countries. Unfortunately, Central European countries receive a negative rep in the media because they are post-Soviet states. Movies such as Hostel or Eurotrip have portrayed these countries as extremely poor and underdeveloped which is simply not true. Although the economies of Central European countries might be slightly weaker than other Western countries, they are still well developed and are rapidly growing.

Lastly, despite Slavic languages often sounding harsh, the Slavic people are known to be incredibly generous, kind and loving.

Central Europe is a beautiful blend of Eastern and Western Europe and is definitely worth exploring.

What did you learn growing up between many cultures and how can you apply that in your career and Fargo?

Living abroad and experiencing numerous cultures has taught me to never shy away from new opportunities, to be adaptable and to be open-minded. I’ve learned that although we may all be working towards similar goals in life, people tend to think, act and prioritize in accordance with their own culture. I believe that because of these experiences, I am able to look at things from multiple perspectives and consider alternative ways of getting things done. My exposure to numerous cultures has increased my open-mindedness and diversified my thinking, which I believe contributes to overall creativity and innovative thinking.

What is your vision for 2030? Where will you be and why?

At this point, I don’t even know what continent I would like to live in. Currently, I am looking for opportunities in the international business and/or tech fields. I would like to pursue a master’s degree in economic or international law and work towards a career in either an international corporation or the United Nations. I have also been thinking about opening up my own company focusing on data analysis as well as developing programs on women’s empowerment in business and tech industries internationally. On a more personal level, I would like to continue traveling and learning more languages.

Little Slovak Dictionary

Hello – Ahoj or Dobrý deň (Dobrý deň is more formal)

How are you? – Ako sa máš?

Thank you – Ďakujem

I love Slovakia – Milujem Slovensko

My name is… – Volám sa…

Written by Alexandre Cyusa

Alexandre Cyusa came to the FM area in the fall of 2010 to attend Concordia College. Originally from Kigali, Rwanda, Cyusa has lived in Switzerland, Ethiopia, Guinea and France. His traveling experiences have helped him in making this world a smaller and simpler place to live in. He currently works for Folkways and is interested in community development and nurturing global citizenship.

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