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The Occidentalist


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West Welcomes New Foreign Exchange Students

Foreign exchange students from around the world experience life in the United States and WSH.

  Back in Brazil, WSH exchange student Luiz Cardoso had dreamed of studying abroad since he was only nine years old. Now as a senior, he is finally living his dream.

  “Everything is new for me, everything is different in Brazil. The ecosystem, the houses, roads, everything is different. I like to discover new things and have adventures in my life,“ Cardoso said.

  Being one of nine foreign exchange students this year, Cardoso has especially enjoyed his time in America so far. He has embraced the changes from the life that he is used to, and recommends American students to give studying abroad a chance if they are interested in different cultures and new experiences.

  “If someone wants to [study abroad], it can be hard. It’s not an easy thing to do because sometimes you’ll feel lonely, or sad because you miss your parents or friends, but it’s an adventure. For your life in general, it’s so good. You [learn about] new cultures, new languages. So, it’s very good for our lives,” Cardoso said.

  Switzerland native Xenia Renz had also dreamed of being an exchange student in America for years before she arrived here.

  “It’s always been my dream since my older sisters went to be exchange students. I wanted to do it too. Just for the experience, I like to meet new people and [learn about new] cultures,” Renz said.

  Renz also mentioned that there are many positive differences in American culture such as shorter school days and meeting many different people. However, she noted that some cultural differences can be harder to get used to.

  ”I think the people in Switzerland are kind of nicer. They greet each other every time that you see them, and if you don’t greet them, [they get] mad. Here, I’ve never really noticed that people greet other people,” Renz said.

  Brazilian student Ana Morias also agrees that people she has met in the United States tend to be less outgoing and friendly to people that they don’t already know. 

  “People here don’t talk much, I think. When you don’t know someone, you don’t talk to them. In Brazil, everyone talks even if you don’t know the person. You just say ‘hi’ to everyone in the hallways and here people don’t do it that much,” Morias said.

  Olympia principal Andy Wares spoke on the importance of being conscious to include new people, especially from other places because of the benefit it holds for everyone involved, and how much there is to learn from one another.

  “I would love it if kids in our school realized who [the exchange students] were, and that they’re guests here, and that it’s an opportunity for us to show our class in being able to say ‘Hey, how are you? This is my name,’ Make sure that they are being invited to student activities and getting connected and having the type of experience that led them to take the leap of faith to come spend a year with us. It takes a lot of courage,” Wares said.

  In addition to traveling and meeting new people, many students come here with a focus on learning more about English and American culture. South Korean student, Yena Cho, is especially interested in different languages.

  “I was in foreign language high school in Korea. My major was Spanish, [and] I really want to go deep into the language and culture part so I decided to be an exchange student,” Cho said.

  In addition to immersing themselves in English, many students studying abroad in America enjoy different aspects of school here, such as school spirit and the teachers.

  “[My favorite part of studying here is] the whole school spirit thing because we don’t have that in France, and the different classes we can take,” French student Manon LeSauce said. 

“I feel like here, the teachers are easier on the students. In Brazil, most of the teachers are very hard and they push the students very much, and here the teachers are nicer.” Morias said.

  “I [don’t] need to spend my whole time study[ing], I can spend my time hanging out with my friends and I can do my sport,” said Cho.

  A common topic for foreign exchange students to bring up was American food. Most exchange students are still getting used to American food, as it is very different to what many of them grew up eating. LeSauce mentioned that other than her friends and family, she misses French food the most.

  Cardoso also mentioned how different American food is compared to what he is used to, saying that the foods are much spicier than what he prefers to eat. 

  “We always made our meal[s] day by day and not [keeping] your leftovers in the refrigerator. Usually in America there [are] big pantries and then [you make] a lot of food at one time and then eat [it] during the week,” Cho said. 

  Despite the many differences that American schools and culture may have from places around the world, students form bonds and friendships with one another that can last a lifetime.

German teacher Kerry LaBonte spoke about how she is still in contact with and visits the woman whom her family hosted as a high school exchange student. LaBonte is now a host family for exchange students here at WSH.

  “I’d say do it, be a host family. Don’t be scared of what it might be like, bringing somebody else into your home. Make a friend. Also, you can go visit them afterward, so not only do they experience life here, but then it opens up doors for you to go there, and learn about their country and their culture,” LaBonte said. 

  Overall, foreign exchange teaches students about one another and students studying here take home as many valuable lessons as they leave.

  “The experience of being all by myself and in another country, speaking another language, I think I’m getting to know myself better and see how I am,” Renz said.

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About the Contributor
Tessa Gryc
Tessa Gryc, Podcast Coordinator, Photographer
Tessa is a freshman and this is her first year on newspaper as a reporter. She is taking newspaper because she likes to be involved in the community and be aware of current events. In her free time she likes to read, volunteer, and make pottery. She is especially interested in early american history and government.

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