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Foreign exchange students are the greatest!!!

Alex E., Opinion Editor

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This year, Royal High School has foreign exchange students through various programs. Two of them shared their experiences at Royal High School and about their life so far in America. The first student is Senior C. Minet. She is 18 years old and is from Belgium. The second student is Senior M. Neskvern. He is a 17 year old from Norway.

Why did you want to become a foreign exchange student?

(C) “My sister went on exchange in Peru and when she came back, she explained all the fun stuff she did during the year. I already thought about going on exchange, but she really convinced me to apply.”

(M) “I wanted to be an exchange student because I felt that it would be an amazing chance to see the world, as well as getting to see if all the American movie cliches were true.”

Once you decided to become a foreign exchange student how did you decide to come to America, and from there Simi Valley?

(C) “I already speak French and Swedish, and I was learning Dutch and English, so I thought that adding a 5th language was a little too much. So, I thought about America. My organization let us choose between some countries, so I put America and Canada. They decided to send me to Simi Valley because a girl from Royal was sent to Belgium.”

(M) “I decided immediately that I wanted to go to the U.S. because it’s the country that I find most interesting in the world. And since I’m Norwegian, I’m used to cold weather and overcast skies. Therefore, I decided that I wanted to go to California, so that I could see how it would be to live in a place where the sun always shines and palm trees live naturally. It’s like a dream for us [my friends and I]. I did not get to choose where in California I was going to live, so Simi Valley was randomly selected for me. I think I struck the lottery!”

What program are you here through?

(C) “I’m here with the Rotary Youth Exchange Program. It’s a wonderful program because they organize a lot of weekends and events with all the other exchange students.”

(M) “I am here through EF (Education First), which hosts students from all over the world. I would definitely recommend them to anyone wanting to study abroad as they’re the most trustworthy of the options.”

What rules/restrictions are there for you in America?

(C) “I have 4 rules here. They call them the 4D’s. It’s no drinking, no driving, no dating (serious relationships), and no drugs. Depending on the country you go to and the culture of it, the rules can change, but it’s basically that.”

(M) “Obviously I have to follow all the rules the other kids have to follow, or else I get sent right back home. Also, I have to maintain C’s in all my subjects. Violation of this will also get me sent home.”

How did you feel when you first arrived at Royal?

(C) “I really wanted to begin school when I arrived. I know it can seem weird, and I would have never expected me to say that, but in the beginning when I arrived, I didn’t know anyone, just my host family. So, I was really looking forward to the beginning of school. I met a girl during the first couple days of school. She turned out to be a really good friend of mine, and she makes exchange so much better. Of course it is hard to socialize when you don’t really know the language, but with her, the cross country team that I joined, and my classes, I have made lifelong friends.”

(M) “I had only been in the U.S. a couple days before going to school, so I was still experiencing culture shock. I did not know a single person in school, so the first day was pretty interesting. I broke an impressive amount of rules without getting in trouble. Also, it helped a lot that the people were super nice and helpful, especially the link leaders.”

What is your favorite part about Royal High School?

(C) “My favorite part about Royal is that everything is outside. The weather is warm here, and being outside in November without freezing, that’s so perfect!”

(M) “My favorite part of Royal would have to be the school spirit. I have never seen such amazing engagement in school before. Also, the people there are super nice.”

How is life different here than back home?

(C) “Everything is different. The people, the houses, the school, etc. For example, we don’t have sports in our schools, so if you wanted to be part of a team or play a sport, you have to subscribe to a club. The weather is also so different. It’s much colder and it rains a lot back home. I just realized that it’s going to be my first Christmas without snow!”

(M) “Almost everything back home is different. I guess the biggest difference from Norway is having to speak English at all times.”

How does your relationship with your host family work?

(C) “I am so happy with my host family. They make me travel around California so I can see the maximum. I really enjoy staying at their house. During the year, I will have three different host families, so I can see 3 different ways of American lifestyles.”

(M) “My relationship with my host family is great! I was greeted at the airport with a big poster and a trip to In-N-Out. We function like a normal family. I do have chores, but not many.”

Minet’s sponsor program in the US is Rotary International. Students between the ages of 15-19 can, through Rotary International, spend anywhere from a week to an entire school year living in a foreign country. For more information you can visit their website at https://www.rotary.org/en/our-programs/youth-exchanges. Neskvern’s sponsor program is Education First (EF). The EF offers a broad range of educational programs, from study abroad and student exchange to educational travel and courses to learn a language. They accept students ages 13-18, with extra programs for adults and college students. For more information visit their website at http://www.ef.edu.

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Foreign exchange students are the greatest!!!