The Viking Longboat

Coming to America

Story: Megan Fulton, Staff Writer

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Being one of the largest countries on the planet with unique cities, mountains, roaming hills and beautiful beaches, the United States entices foreigners from all over the world. Its magnitude of diversity and opportunity are captivating to people everywhere making it home to one of the largest populations of immigrants to date.
Foreign exchange students get to experience this shift in culture first hand, and are some of the most relevant sources for us to speak to.
“Everything is bigger,” senior Carmen Urbón of Spain said. “Cars are bigger, houses are bigger, roads are bigger and it’s more open and expanded.”
Urbon and exchange students Anni Levonen, Maja Boege and Marla Küsel came to the United States for the 2018 school year through the American Field Service program. All are anxious to experience the lifestyle and to understand life in a different country.
The girls admit they didn’t know what to expect coming to the U.S. The students had gotten most of their knowledge of American lifestyle from what they had seen through pop culture and through friends and family.
“I wanted to experience American high school because of TV shows and movies,” Levonen of Finland said. “I wanted to know if any of it was true, some stereotypes are, but not as bad. It’s more normal than I expected.”
The educational systems in the foreign exchange students’ countries differ a lot from the in the U.S. In their countries, the school day changes frequently and students usually learn more than six subjects. They typically won’t change classes during the day and sports or other extracurricular activities aren’t done through the school.
“There were 35 people in my grade and it was divided into two classes, A and B, you would have all your classes with that one specific group,” sophomore Boege of Denmark said. “We would have 12 subjects, but it would be a different schedule every day. I really like that you have the after school activities.”
Just as the educational systems are different, the people here in the U.S. tend to differ from what is considered “normal’ in other countries. Not only do the people look, talk and sound different, they also act different.
“The people are way more open and friendly and more easy going,” Küsel of German said. “Germany is more strict and more military-like, I would say.”
It’s no shock that coming to live in a different country can be a scary yet rewarding choice. “The first month was pretty difficult, but I’m good now,” Boege said. “I’ve learned a lot and made countless friends.”

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Coming to America