|Eight foreign exchange students reflect on life in the United States|
|Written by Sharlene Hart|
Holyoke is proud to host eight foreign exchange students from all over the globe. These high school students have called Holyoke home since the beginning of the school year and will finish out remainder of the school term in the U.S.
Holyoke is hosting Sheng Xuezhi, from China; Tiago Cavalcanti and Vanessa Nishi, Brazil; Eveliina Rantanen, Finland; Erik Scharin, Sweden; Valerie Auersperg, Austria; Elle-Jade Megaw, Australia; and Pilu Lund, Greenland.
While in the United States these eight students have experienced a different culture, government and many different holiday celebrations.
When discussing the American culture many of the exchange students agreed that Americans are very proud people.
Auersperg commented, “Many people here are really proud of their home country America, in Austria people are not that proud.” Lund added, “Most people are patriots.”
When Cavalcanti was asked about American culture he said, “This country doesn’t have as many social differences as Brazil does. Eveliina Rantanen said, “Americans can talk to everyone.”
While in America many of the exchange students experienced a totally different style of government. Elle-Jade Megaw said, “the government is certainly different.” She added, “But I agree with it.” Out of the eight exchange students three said they would have voted for McCain, three Obama and two no comment/undecided in the 2008 election.
In some of the exchange students’ home countries, the voting age is different than it is here in the U.S. Cavalcanti said in Brazil, the voting age is 16. In Auersperg’s home country of Austria the voting age is also 16.
All eight of the foreign students have played sports while here. Megaw said, “I have played basketball and volleyball, at home I play netball. Netball is a game with seven players on a side. It is similar to basketball except a player receiving the ball must stand still until they have passed it to another player.
Auersperg excitedly said, “I play basketball, but I’ve never played it in Austria. I like it!” Scharin commented he has played basketball and football here, but in his home country there is no football. Nishi rode horses competitively in Brazil, while in Holyoke she is in girls’ basketball.
As the students enter into the holiday break they have also seen a taste of some differences in culture. Xuezhi said the holiday traditions are “Crazy fun and amazing but totally different than China’s.”
While Auersperg has been in Holyoke she said she has noticed a lot of people decorate their houses. She really likes this tradition and said, “in Austria it’s not that common.”
Rantanen said she has noticed Americans travel more for Christmas than people in Finland. Nishi pointed out one different holiday tradition in Brazil is most people wear white on New Year’s. She also said Christmas is celebrated with a midnight meal in her country.
Some holidays that are celebrated in the U.S. are not celebrated other places. Cavalcanti mentioned there is no Halloween in Brazil.
HHS has definitely left its mark on these eight students. They have experienced new adventures and met people here they will never forget for the rest of their lives. HHS has also learned a lot from these students coming from abroad.
Many of the exchange students said the memories they will remember the most about Holyoke are their host families and friends they have made here. Auersperg said she will miss her great host family. According to her they have made this one of the best times in her life. The exchange students also said they will miss pizza and Subway.