Croatian speaker fits in just fine

January 26, 2010 — by Kim Tsai

The way sophomore Tonio Galoic sees it, his ability to speak Croatian and English is no big deal.

At first glance, Galoic seems like just another student looking for his next class. Even when he speaks English, it sounds as if he has lived in the U.S. for his entire life. Without being told, it is doubtful that anyone could know that Galoic came from Croatia.

Galoic also said he feels right at home in such a diverse high school, where languages besides English are commonly spoken at home.

"It's normal because everyone here speaks a different language too," Galoic said.

Galoic arrived in California one week before the start of his freshman year from Croatia, where he studied English for about nine years.

Even with this background in the language, moving to the U.S. was a little weird and difficult. He said that although he thinks the people here are really different from Croatians because they are nicer.

Along with English and Croatian, Galoic also knows a bit of German and is currently taking Spanish. He learned German for about a year, taking private lessons in Croatia.

Galoic feels that his English has improved because he has had to practice it every day at school.

Because of the singularity of his native language, Galoic can only speak Croatian to his family, including his cousin, freshman Anthony Bilic.

"Before [Galoic] moved here, he used to visit us every summer," said Bilic. "He's really nice."

Galoic also prefers to eat Croatian food such as pastas with tomato sauce because he is not accustomed to American food. He and his family often go out to eat Croatian food rather than the typical food American culture brings.

Although there may be various language barriers, Galoic has not had too much trouble making friends. He said, "there are other people who are like me and are very nice."

Galoic, although having moved here two years ago, plans to return to Croatia after he has graduated from Saratoga High. By then, he will have completed four years of high school. He is also thinking about going to college here, but is not sure about it yet.

"School is much easier here because everyone is so helpful," said Galoic. "The system is easier too."

Bilic said it was cool to have his cousin come here.

"He didn't even know what In-N-Out or root beer was," Bilic said. "But it's really cool, because he's like a brother to me."

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