Hyphenated American: Growing up Croatian in California

A Croatian mother and the son she raised in America share what it’s like to immigrate to and grow up in the U.S.

The duality of learning a new way of life

What was growing up in America like?

Bruno Ferenc Segedin

I live in Davis, California, where I've lived most of my life. I was born in the city of Zagreb, the capital of Croatia. I remember in preschool not being able to communicate in English and, you know, asking where the bathroom was, but not being able to communicate that. This duality between English outside of the house and Croatian at home was something I grew up with.

Marija Segedin Ferenc (Bruno's mom)

There was a time I had the difficulties embracing American culture. Actually, still, Halloween is kind of difficult for me to adjust to. Mainly for me, it is bad taste. And it's hard for me to get into the fun part of it. I can't wait until Halloween over.

Did you ever feel embarrassed about your culture?

Bruno Ferenc Segedin

There are times where I'd feel embarrassed about being misperceived as a certain way, where Many people in America know nothing about Croatia and sort of assume it's this like dark, poor place. There's sort of this element of condescension that comes with that, where it's implied that you're supposed to be grateful to be here.

Marija Segedin Ferenc (Bruno's mom)

A very strong memory about birthday parties and presents — I noticed that my kids used to get cheaper, cheaper presents than other kids, probably because there was the prevalent opinion that it will be good enough for us because we are coming from a very poor country.

What message do you have for your mom/son?

Bruno Ferenc Segedin

I love you and I thank you for exposing me to all these great things, whether it be sports, whether it be culture. And thank you for making my brothers and I retain the Croatian language.

Marija Segedin Ferenc (Bruno's mom)

What message do I have for my son? Be yourself and thrive.

Brut.

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Brut.
December 18, 2019 11:19 AM