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December 17, 2014

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RANDOM: STORIES ABOUT PEOPLE WE MEET:

She did hope for a warmer welcome

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Steve Marcus

Zuzana Zboronova of Slovakia is still adjusting to cultural differences after moving first to Atlanta and then to Las Vegas.

Zuzana Zboronova chuckles loudly at the notion she fills the stereotype: gold-digging beauties in Eastern Europe who hook a fellow for a ride to the easy life in the States.

“If that were true,” she says, still laughing, “would I be working here?”

Here, as a waitress at a suburban seafood restaurant.

Zboronova, 31, was raised in the small Slovakian town of Medvedzie and pursued hotel management and business courses in school. She left her parents and three younger brothers for Atlanta in 2003 for a job as an accountant at a finance company.

“Moving to Atlanta from Slovakia was a culture shock,” she says. “I came from small villages and had never seen such huge buildings, such a downtown. It was overwhelming. I grew up in towns with two-lane roads and in Atlanta there were five lanes going in each direction.”

She had entered the United States through a visa program designed for foreigners to learn business skills that could be applied back home.

But love changed her plans, and gold-digging wasn’t part of the equation. James wasn’t rich. They met at a nice restaurant in Atlanta — where he was a waiter.

He suggested they move to Las Vegas, where he had buddies.

The couple arrived a year ago, got married at a Strip wedding chapel and are adjusting to their new lifestyle. James is a food server at a Strip resort.

As the spouse of a U.S. citizen, she is waiting for her residency card, and thinks it will take another year or so. She hasn’t seen her parents and brothers in more than five years. Thank goodness for video chatting on the Internet, she says.

If the transition from Slovakia to Atlanta was difficult, it’s been a struggle of a different sort in Las Vegas.

“In Atlanta, people are very friendly, very open. I wasn’t lonely.

“It’s very hard to make friends in Las Vegas. People are cold. They are closed. Maybe they just go to work, and then they go to casinos to spend their money, and then they go back home. And in casinos, they just sit in front of machines. It seems many people here just want to think about themselves.”

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