Foreign Exchange Student from Hungary Adapts to the Life of a Wisconsinite


Sophia Zorka Voko, exchange student from Hungary.

Sierra Luepke and Ana Sofia O. Pavao

Following a loop of faith and adventure, Hungarian Zsophia Zorka Voko, who prefers to be called Sophia, decided to risk it all and leave it to fate to decide where she would be spending her exchange year as a junior in the United States. Spending 16 hours on three different flights, traveling from Budapest to her final destination —  Neenah. 

Leaving her home city, Pécs, Sophia misses the delicious taste of Hungarian food as a Wisconsinite would miss going to Culvers. Some of her favorite dishes include marhapörkölt nokedlivel, lecso, and palacsinta. Although known for its delicious food, Hungary was formed by immigrants from Asia that had no religious beliefs. Their first king, Stephen I, brought Christianity and enforced it into Hungary’s culture. According to, Hungary is currently a Parliamentary Republic and a part of Nato and the European Union.

Sophia landed in the United States almost a month before school started and spent the last weeks of August enjoying the end of summer and getting to know her host family. Besides her host parents, she has two younger host brothers that are in third and fifth grade, and a family dog named River. She is excited for the basketball season to start as she has always been a fan of the Bucks even before coming to Wisconsin.

Going from an incredible summer with high temperatures in Europe to the, in her own words “always cold” Wisconsin weather was an abrupt change. But, one sweatshirt at a time and with her most faithful companion, a newly installed heater in her room, Sophia prepares herself for the, so-feared by the exchange students, Wisconsin winter. Despite the coldness that winter bears, she is eager to experience the snow and Christmas time that the Wisconsin winter wonderland has to offer.

This is the longest trip Sophia has traveled outside her home country of Hungary. Some of her favorite places she has traveled are Italy, Switzerland, Sweden and Croatia. With admiration for the world around her, she has also learned many different languages. Speaking Hungarian, English, German, Italian, Serbian, and Croatian, and currently learning Norwegian.

Sophia came to America with the hopes of not only gaining the experience of living in America but buckling down with her future in mind. She hopes to one day become a neurosurgeon or heart surgeon and specialize in children. Achieving this by attending medical school and getting her degree in America or Scandinavia. Outside of her studies she also wants to pursue this career by attending medical missions to Africa and traveling the world while helping people.