Where in the World is Miami Wednesday: Meet an International Student from Croatia

Lora and the girl's track and field team

By Fatimata Ndiaye & Halie Best

In this week's, Where in the World is Miami Wednesday, we meet Lora Ontl, a sophomore international student from Croatia. She's majoring in Medical Laboratory Science and competes on Miami's track/field and cross country team.

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

My name is Lora Ontl and I am a sophomore studying Medical Laboratory Science. I am an international student-athlete and this is my second year being at Miami University. The reason why I got here was because of the sport I do. I am a cross country and track and field athlete, and when I was given an opportunity to study and train at Miami, I could not turn it off. That was probably decision that changed my life significantly in a good way.

How did you get to know about Miami University and what made you choose it?

Ontl and a group of classmatesI am very passionate student interested in studying medicine, so when I looked up university rankings, I came across Miami University. After I saw it has a really good acceptance rates for medicine school, I knew that this was a place where I will get a solid preparation for my future education. Also, I looked it up online and I really liked it. But to be completely honest, I was that student who thought that the University is in Florida.

So when I found out that it is actually in Ohio, the state that I have never heard of, I was little bit confused. But after couple of talks with coaches from university, I fell in love in completely everything, and knew that this was the place I want to go. Now, a whole year after, I can say with confidence that that was the best decision I have ever made.

What has been your most memorable experience(s) at Miami University?

It is very hard to say what has been my favorite Miami memory because there are so many things I can highlight. But the first thing that came up to my mind was when I first got here, everyone accepted me and wanted to talk to me. Even though I come from Croatia, a country that is very different from the U.S., everyone tried so hard to make me as comfortable as possible.

I remember, last year for my birthday, my teammates surprised me with a secret birthday party that was so cool. They even looked up online one Croatian recipe and made it for me. That was so sweet of them. Now, that my birthday is coming up, they set a pretty high expectations for this year as well.

What has been the biggest difference between your home country and the U.S.?

The biggest difference was definitely language barrier. When I first got here, I struggled with explaining and vocabulary, but once I started talking more and got to meet more people my English improved a lot. Now, when I video-call with my parents, it takes me a while to transition from English to Croatian, which is embarrassing.

What has been the biggest similarity between your home country and the U.S.?

When it comes to similarities between Croatia and U.S. there is actually a lot of things that are the same. For some reason, international students think that America is so much different from the other countries, and that they are not going to be able to take on the challenge of studying here. To be honest, I even doubted in myself because I thought that. Now when I look back on it, it makes me laugh. Everything in the U.S. is as same as everywhere else, with a lot of more opportunities to explore what are you really interested in. Students here go to class, do their homework, have time for their friends, and do something they are interested in outside of class.

What organizations are you involved with on campus, and why?

Lora holding a pair of shoesOutside of my cross country and track team, I am also involved in peer health educating which is so fun. As peer educators, we go to residence halls and give presentations about health, making sure students are aware of their behavior. It is amazing how students are actually focused on listening to the topic we talk about.

What does Love & Honor mean to you?

I was not aware of how students actually appreciate Love and Honor, and no matter where you are, we are all one big family. To give you an example, over the summer I went to Michigan on a trip and I wore Miami gear. While I was in one coffee shop, one girl came up to me and said how she goes at Miami as well. We talked a little bit, and then said bye to each other. Even though the conversation we had was not that meaningful, I felt amazing after knowing that no matter where I am Miami students will always act as a big family.

What do you like to do for fun?

Even though I am pretty busy all the time, I still manage to have time for fun and relaxing. As every college girl, I love shopping, and when I discovered that there are a lot of outlets near Oxford, I go there with my friends at least once a month. When it comes to relaxing, Oxford is full of gardens where you can just sit and relax with your friends, especially when it is really nice and sunny outside.

What is your favorite place to eat on campus?

When it comes to places to eat on campus, every dining hall has a good variety of food. I tried to eat as healthy as I can, and I really like that there are so many healthy options. Also, I love our coffee shop in Armstrong that is based on our campus in Luxembourg. "Caffe Lux" is type of coffee shop that you can see all over Europe, and when I go there, it makes me feel closer to home.

How has Miami’s focus on a liberal arts-based education helped you?

Lora and a group of her classmatesI remember, I needed to take an ART class my first semester here. At first I hated it because I showed no interest in art. However, after few months I noticed that my vocabulary improved significantly because in that art class we used words I have never heard of. Also, I was able to think more critically, which helped me a lot for my future classes.

What advice would you give to someone who is considering pursuing their education at Miami University?

My advice for future Miami students would be to be involved as much as possible. You will get to meet so many people, expand your knowledge, and the most important built yourself as a person because you will learn what are you really interested in.


Catch us soon as we continue to travel around the world to feature the amazing opportunities that Miami students are taking and the experiences our alumni have had since graduating!

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