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Getting to know the foreign exchange students

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Find out more about Barlows exchange students

For as long as I’ve been in this high school, I’ve never experienced the curiosity I felt once I figured out the student exchange program was on and there were new students coming to our school. The curiosity of letting people that are from different parts of the world stay with us and learning about their way of education and then learning about ours is interesting. Here are some of the exchange students’ experiences and some facts about them. 

 

Margherita Marzioni 

 How is your experience going in the US and Sam Barlow High School? 

 

 “My experience went really well, and I am enjoying the school and the people here. I have the opportunity to try new things that I never would have in my home country.” 

 

What events do you like the most here in school? 

 

“I have been playing water polo in the fall, and I’m currently wrestling. I used to do judo for some years, and I still practice sometimes.” 

 

In what ways is your education in your country different from education in America?

 

“Education in Italy is radically different from here. You don’t have a big school like Barlow with all the different classes that you get to pick as you like. We have different kinds of schools that you can choose, but once you’re in,  all classes are mandatory. You have five years of high school instead of four, in fact I’ll go back and be attending my last year. We graduate at the age of 19. Also, people of the same grade are people born in the same year (for example, seniors this year are all people born in 2005, no matter which month). You never change class or classmates. During Freshman year, they create a group of people who are going to be in the same class every day for five years. Grades go from 1 to 10, but it’s pretty impossible to get to 10 since you need to get a 6 to pass. My school is a public language school, which is going to give me both an Italian and a French diploma! In order to get both, I’ll have two finals instead of one at the end of last year, and we’re taking a class more than everybody else. The schedule is not the same every day but every week.”

 

What advice would you have if someone were to visit your country? Please explain further. 

 

“My country is one of the most culturally, historically and physically unique places in the world and I would recommend everyone who hasn’t visited it, to at least go there once in their life. I would recommend visiting more than just one place, because every single spot is completely different but still so beautiful and it would be a waste to just go to the south and not have time to see the north and vice versa. Big cities and touristy places are wonderful but, as everywhere, to really feel what life there is like, it is recommended that you should go to small places.”

 

How is your routine different from here vs. your home?

 

“My routine here is really different. In my country we just go to school in the morning, and then we all go have lunch at home. After lunch everybody, including students and workers, take a break as well. In fact, most of the stores are even closed until 3 or 3.30 pm. That’s the time when I start to study or do my homework which usually takes 2 to 3 hours but if I have a test or something it can also take 4 to 5 hours a day, I always have to make time for schoolwork since I have school Monday through saturday. After homework, I go to the gym to do some physical activity and then I’d go back home and have dinner at 8 or 8.30, which is dinner time in Italy. We always eat at the same time everyday, dinner is one of the last things of the day and usually meals are always followed by a little break from everything.” 

 

What do you appreciate about here in the US? 

 

“What I appreciate the most about the US is definitely people. I love American values, I love the community feeling which we don’t have in Italy. People are caring and they try to help everybody as they can for free, it’s just their way to act. There is no judgment, everyone is welcomed and loved and supported no matter what. I love that everyday you are surrounded by happy and carefree people, who love what they do and do what they love. That’s what surprised me the most and also one of the reasons why I chose this country: here everything is just possible, you just can. “

Kaisa Asberg

 How is your experience going in the US and Sam Barlow high school? 

“My experience is going very well, I have had a lot of opportunities to travel around the states and see new things. For example, I was in Puerto Rico during winter break and before school started I was on a road trip with my host family, going to 10 states. My experience with Barlow has been good. There are a lot of people so I was very shocked once I saw how packed the hallways were, but the teachers are nice and have been very welcoming. “

 

Do you play any sports?

 

“Yes I do. Right now, I play soccer and have done that for about 10-12 years. But I have also done handball, tennis, figure skating and gymnastics.” 

 

In what ways is your education in your country different from education in America? 

 

“ The biggest one I think is how schedules and classes are made. In Sweden when we go into our equivalent of “high school” we choose a program we want to study for three years. I choose the nature and scientific program and that involves classes that are connected to science, so math, biology, chemistry, etc. During those 3 years we have the same classmates, which creates a deep bond and friendship which I feel is hard to get here. We also don’t have the same schedule every day, instead it varies for each day of the week. For example, on a Monday we can start at 10 am and finish at 3.30 pm but on Friday we start at 8 am and finish at 2.00 pm. We also have longer breaks between classes, some can be up to 1 hour and longer. We get free school lunch with real meals that actually taste amazing! One other big difference is the graduation day. In Sweden since we have gone with the same people for three years, one of the class mates hosts a champagne breakfast at their house the morning of the graduation. At the breakfast one person is in control of dealing out the class nominations, for example one person can get the class clown. After breakfast, we all travel to the school where we have a last meeting with our teachers and give gifts to them as a thank you for these years. After that, every class has chosen a song and when it is our time, they open the front doors of the school whilst the song is playing and we are supposed to run out to it. We dance and sing along whilst the parents stand with a big sign of us as a baby and holding gifts you can put around the neck. The students are wearing white clothes and a white graduation cap. After that, the students usually hops on a truck and parade through the city streets, jumping and dancing while blasting music”

 

What advice would you have if someone were to visit your country?

 

“Go to Sweden during the summers, because we have spent almost over half the year in darkness and cold so when the warmth comes out everyone is excited and you can feel it in the air. The days get longer and sometimes the sun does not go until 11.30 pm or up north, it doesn’t go down at all. We stay up all night, biking around with friends, swimming in lakes and living in a summer cabin. The best part is that midsummer is in summer, which to me is one of the best holiday traditions Sweden has. We pick flowers early in the morning and with them make flower crowns. We hang out with family and friends as we eat good food and dance around maypole. We always eat hand picked strawberries, so much that there is usually a shortage of them in the country around that time. My family usually spends midsummer on a Swedish island called Öland where we camp in a caravan. So yes, it is a perfect season to go during the summer! “

 

What is your favorite food from your hometown that you miss? 

“I really miss the Swedish tacos and the Saturday candy (which is not a food, but I really miss it)! It is a tradition in Sweden that on Friday’s the meal is tacos, called taco Friday. As kids we have grown up with the belief that Saturday is the day where you eat candy. So a lot of families go to a candy store and pick out some candy, but not just any candy, it’s called bulk confectionery.” 

What is your favorite subject to study? Which one is your least? Why?

Physics is my least favorite subject, because it is complex facts mixed with math. If you would take away the math part of physics and learn more about the theories of this world and space etc. The subject would be way more enjoyable. I love to study Biology and have always done so. Mostly because I think it is a very fascinating subject where we learn about the world around us and how we are all connected. There are also so many different topics you can read about, my favorite is marine biology because I have always been interested in how smart some of our water species are. For example an Orca, who is one of the most intelligent creatures on earth. I also think it is important to understand our biology as humans! “

Emil Kusayer

How is your experience going in the US and Sam Barlow high school?

“My experience is going great. It’s very interesting to go into a completely new environment and meet new people and experience a whole new culture. Seeing how different school systems compare can be surprising because of the focus on different skills in both countries.”

Do you play any sports?

“Yes, I’m playing basketball on the JV team, I started 3 years ago and it’s been great to continue playing in a country where the sport was created. It is a different feeling and definitely a different experience. ”

In what ways is your education in your country different from education in America?

“Education in my country is focused on giving the students the basic overview of many subjects in high school, the schedule changes based on the day so we don’t feel like it’s a routine. Since the classes here are much easier, it is going so smoothly so far and giving me time to focus on my sport. Also schools in Poland don’t have sports or clubs.”

What advice would you have if someone were to visit your country? 

“I’d definitely tell those people to try all the food options available and mostly use public transportation instead of a car rental because it’s way cheaper. It’s also important to remember that even though Poland is in the European Union we don’t use euros so it’s important to have the right currency. “

What is your favorite subject to study? 

“Probably Mr. Toth because I like the class he teaches as well as the atmosphere he creates in his classroom, it’s always nice to talk to him before and after class. We also share some of the same interests like soccer.”

What do you appreciate about here in the US? 

“I appreciate people being able to drive at 16 as well as the schools being bigger.

It’s also great to see students come together to cheer for their school during games. This is an experience I can’t witness during school in Poland and the atmosphere is different and more lively. “

MADDY DEWES

In what ways is your education in your country different from education in America?

“It’s, I would say, more difficult in my country. You can’t use notes for a quiz or a note sheet for a test, you can’t retake tests and we don’t have electives! School starts earlier and ends later. Also the practice for basketball everyday is different here compared to my country.“

What is your favorite subject to study ?

“My favorite subject is theater because I’ve been doing theater for 4 years and I love acting. My least favorite, though,  is probably film studies. I just don’t really like it. Doesn’t interest me as much as actually acting it out and being sort of involved with the theater program here.”

What is your favorite food from your hometown that you miss? 

 “I really miss my moms food that she makes. She’s a great cook and makes the best food!”  

Do you play any sports?

“Yes, I play basketball this season. So far I like it, it is different from my schedule at home.”

Do you like cooking? If so, what’s your favorite dish to make? 

“I love cooking and I would say making schnitzel (a German dish) is pretty fun to make and it tastes amazing!!!” 

What do you appreciate about here in the US? 

“The teachers! They really care about you and try to help where they can. We should appreciate them more!!!”

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About the Contributor
Lesly Ochoa, Staff Writer

My name is Lesly Ochoa and I am a Senior with a big “S” this year, I am looking forward to graduating and making new memories with my friends, peers etc. I enjoy reading, painting and going to concerts anytime I can. This is my first and last year in the bruin banner and I hope this year goes great.

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