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.


12/18/2019 11:19 AM


  • Catherine V.
    12/31/2019 23:42

    Why come here if you whine about everything. Was the museums here, the art was it here? Did you travel back to Croatia. This women is very insulting and please go home if you don’t like it here.

  • Lori C.
    12/31/2019 14:12

    I am impressed by both of these people. Would love to spend time with them. Terrific Mom.

  • Adem B.
    12/30/2019 13:12

    Cher nous rien à gratter Nous sommes musulmans et c'est tout l'Algérie et toujours classé parmi les derniers Au monde entier Je ne sais pas quoi faire avec ses voleurs Nous sommes désespéré no ponce toujours a la fuite vers l'étranger et notre pays et le plus riche dans le monde entier Chaque fois mais enfants veulent partir plus loin peut être la traversée de la Méditerranée vers l'Europe je ne sais pas Allah jibe khire li bilede in chaa Allah ya Ouled Djazaïr

  • Judy S.
    12/29/2019 22:22

    Excellent interview

  • Donna B.
    12/28/2019 01:39

    I have never felt embarrassed about our (America’s) culture. But I have never cared for Halloween since I be- came an adult.

  • Sally M.
    12/28/2019 01:04

    This mom is adorable!! Smart!! Obviously loving and caring!!! ❤️🥰

  • Mushtaq M.
    12/27/2019 05:02

    Nice pic!

  • Jordan M.
    12/26/2019 19:02

    Matej Bosnjak check this out

  • Jose S.
    12/25/2019 02:26

    Ver very admirable mother and family. I BOW TO YOUR GREATNESS

  • Dolores L.
    12/24/2019 18:10

    This shows how little we, as Americans know about the world!!

  • Nora Z.
    12/24/2019 00:08

    Went through this as a child. But German. Sometimes it was hard but in the long run it was great. Been here 60 years, still speak German, and celebrate many of the old traditions.

  • Raj J.
    12/23/2019 04:48

    I agree but also we should make aware of our unique culture and heritage to grandchildren , that is what I do whenever I get a chance ✌️✌️

  • Sue W.
    12/23/2019 04:24


  • Franziska C.
    12/21/2019 22:42

    Unfortunately, you ended up in California with all the LEFTISTS! It's a beautiful State, but crazy people!

  • Kathy V.
    12/21/2019 14:17


  • Viola K.
    12/21/2019 05:50

    Wonderful!! My family spoke Spanish at home. My husbands family spoke German at home. Three of our children graduated from U C Davis!!! Good memories Of Davis!!!

  • Anna D.
    12/21/2019 04:01

    That's all a parent can do.... And I appreciate my Mom and Dad for doing the same for us. ❤️❤️✊🏽😞

  • Susana M.
    12/20/2019 15:59

    i understand completely where its coming from...

  • Rachel D.
    12/19/2019 23:58

    Who is this guy.... I know this is seriously gonna sound super creepy, but ive seen him in my dreams... Yea idk

  • Tere P.
    12/19/2019 23:23


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