Abroad in America

Students express thoughts on foreign exchange program


Sydney Sokora / Legacy Media

Various students traveled to the United States to gain cultural knowledge and memorable experiences.

Living with a new family, attending a new school, meeting new people and embarking on a new journey.

A new place. Alone.

Every year, the school accepts up to five foreign exchanges students. Though it may be intimidating to live in a new country for a year, Associate Principal Steve Matheson believes that exchange programs are very beneficial for both foreign exchanges students and current students.

“It is a win-win situation,” Matheson said. “Foreign exchange students are able to learn about a new culture, and our students are exposed to a little of their culture as well.”

All foreign exchange students are classified as juniors, which means they are required to go back to their country and finish high school before graduating.

Infographic from www.amazonaws.com
Infographic from www.amazonaws.com

“The credits that they earn here, may or may not count in their country,” Matheson said. “That is why we mainly put them into junior classes because they are not allowed to graduate from here with a degree.”

One of the five foreign exchange students, Marie Schroth, a German participant, had the privilege to experience life as a student in America.

“I came here because I wanted to expand my knowledge and learn more about the culture,” Schroth said. “On my first day here, it was a culture shock because everything was just so different.”

The other four exchange students also had to adapt to the considerable differences in the schools.

“In Italy, I stay in the same classroom all day with the same people, and only the teachers change rooms,” Italian exchange student Elisa Rismini said. “I also go to school for six days a week, I don’t have lunch until school is over and there are no afterschool activities.”

Not only are the schools completely different, Leon Kroll, an exchange student also from Germany, noticed in behavior as well.

“The people are so much friendlier here,” Kroll said. “In the hallways, when other students bump into me, they say, ‘sorry, excuse me,’ and people at my school didn’t always do that.”

Kroll is not the only one who has seen a difference in people. Cuno Yntema from the Netherlands expressed that his favorite part so far has been the people here.

“What I love the most is that everyone is so intrigued by me just because I’m from a different country,” Yntema said. “It’s been a life-changing experience. I really just love how I am someone here and that I mean something.”

Overall, foreign exchange programs have proven to be helpful to a student’s knowledge, great for creating unforgettable memories and key to shaping an individual’s character.

”I’ve learned how to be more independent since I have been here because I have no one from home to rely on,” Braziallian exchange student Samual Duarte said.  “This program has really made me grow in life, and as a person.”