This school year, students from seven different countries came to America to attend Puyallup High School. Although they say leaving their families behind was hard, they say they are excited to be here.
“I did not want to learn English by reading books and studying in my high school so I decided to come here and learn through talking with people and learning the culture,” sophomore Lucia Ramos, a student from Spain, said.
According to the exchange students, one of the main reasons they decided to come to Puyallup was to broaden their cultural awareness.
“I chose to come [to America] because I wanted to know the culture. It is very different from Egypt so why not?” junior Tarneem Henen, an exchange student from Egypt, said.
Moving to America, these exchange students are diving right into our culture and are experiencing new things. As exciting as this may be, they are also finding some difficulties.
“So far, [PHS] is much bigger than my school in Germany and I got lost many times. But what I really like here is the school spirit,” junior Maria Hartmann, a student from Germany, said.
One example of this is the importance of sports here compared to in Spain.
“In Spain, people do a sport for two hours a week and here I am on the swim team and I do six hours a week so it is really different,” Ramos said.
Having students from Egypt, Italy, Germany, Spain, India, Japan and Thailand at PHS can also be beneficial to students at school. Most of the foreign exchange students want the population at PHS to know they are very friendly and outgoing, they just are still adjusting to the school and community.
“I want people to know that I am not shy, it is just that I am not very comfortable speaking in English with you but I am actually one of the craziest people you will ever meet,” senior Sara Orlandi from Italy said.
For some of the exchange students, Puyallup can bring them more freedom and choice in their daily lives.
“The school system here is quite different from my country but I like it because here I can choose what classes, clubs and sports I want to do,” sophomore Mint Koohachaisakul from Thailand said.
Being a foreign exchange student can also help students with skills they can return home with.
“In India we have helpers for all of our work and we take them for granted so when I came here I became more independent and also more respectful towards my helpers so this is a good learning opportunity for me,” junior Surbhi Sarda from India said.
As rewarding as their experience here will be, all of the students agree that they miss their families, friends and culture back home.
“I am looking forward to seeing my family later this year when we go to DisneyWorld,” sophomore Riko Hayama from Japan said.
Coming to school in Puyallup is seen as a way for these students to make new friends, experience our culture, practice their English and create lifelong memories.
“I am looking forward to meeting new people, making some friends and remembering this experience for the rest of my life as a good experience,” Orlandi said.