Slovakian Matej Rusimaa in U.S. to’ Experience, not Judge’


Monica Sosa-Hernandez, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

“I hadn’t expected that you use air conditioning everywhere. It’s a small thing, but I got sick first week or the second week that I was here in Green Bay from air conditioning. It’s so cold here,” said Mateji Rusinak, an international student from Slovakia.

Rusinak,  a junior at Notre Dame Academy,  was given the opportunity to come to the United States through a program called Global Outreach Catholic Exchange. 

He thought it would be interesting to study abroad to learn more about different traditions and cultures and even get the chance to move out from his country for a little bit. 

Once he had applied to the organization, the program searched for families who were willing to take in an international student, which was why Rusinak was put on the waiting list.

On May 26, 2018, Rusinak woke  up at five in the morning, not knowing why, only to discover an email in his inbox that had said he had been accepted by a family in the United States. 

“This has been a great birthday gift,” said Rusinak.

The accommodations Rusinak has experienced and will keep experiencing are quite interesting to him in the way that they are the smallest of things which surprise him about the United States and the school. 

One of the things that Americans do that has caught him by surprise is the way we deal with our illnesses. His comment is especially targeted to the students at school.

“When you are sick in Europe and you are going to school or something like this, you just go to the doctor and he gives you an excuse for one week and during this time you are at home and later come back to school healthy. In the United States, half of school is sick, but they still go to school and I don’t know why,” explained Rusinak. 

The United States and Notre Dame Academy has certainly peaked his interest in the way we do things, especially in school. 

Rusinak explained that the most difficult adjustment he has made since coming here was going to school. He says it is strange to go to school and have the same eight subjects in the same order being taught every day. 

School, in his country, has a different system. The students there have about 16 to 17 different subjects that are divided into two or three subjects throughout the weeks. 

Rusinak’s favorite subjects are philosophy and sociology. 

Philosophy wins in the debate of which subject tops the other and his explanation to why is because it is “just great to observe a world of philosophy and the world in which you are living in. You can just see that things that are traditions in your culture are from this ‘Philosophy.’ It’s kind of  interesting.” 

Although he is a fan of philosophy, Rusinak will need to know and understand each and every subject he is taking here. Reason being, he does not get credit for the classes he is taking. 

This means once Rusinak has finished his school year, he will need to go back to his country to take an exam on each subject he has taken in the United States. If he passes the exam, he will get credit for the class and move on to senior year. If he does not pass, he will need to retake his junior year. He hopes to pass and continue on his journey to new experiences. 

“There are a lot of people asking me where is better, if in Slovakia or in the United States, and I have one polite answer for them: ‘I am not here for judging. I am here for experiencing,’” said Rusinak.