Introducing: Foreign Exchange Students!


Our school has a few new fresh faces this year including both teachers and students, but not just students from other schools or states but other countries as well. A few foreign exchange students introduced themselves in an interview where they spoke of their experience in a new school and country so far. 

“School begins earlier, so I have to be at school by 7:15 and it begins at 7:45 and it ends mostly at 1 p.m. so I have a little bit more free time but I have thirteen subjects in school. We don’t have A days and B days, it’s just completely mixed. In Germany, we can’t really choose the subjects and we have almost everything with the same group of people,” junior Fiona Holl said.

In traditional American schools, classes are either a seven-period schedule or a four-period block schedule where we alternate classes. In places like Germany, they do things a bit differently.

“It’s not as digital, so I don’t have to submit everything that I do in school. We mainly do everything on paper. We have like two tests in each subject per semester and we only have two semesters,” Holl said.

Recently, especially in the last two years, we have been getting used to doing pretty much all of our school work online, however, at Holls’ old school it’s quite the opposite. 

It’s understandable that moving to another country after living in another for so long that she would feel uncomfortable, so Holl was asked what helps her to feel more when she misses it. 

“I cook German food, my favorite is like a german kind of pancake its called ‘kaiserschmarrn’ and having my whole family also makes me feel more at home,” she said. 

In an interview with another student, senior Fabianna Gimenez, she spoke of her school back in Venezuela.

“It’s really different from my old school, this school is really really big. There’s a lot of diversity in students which I really really really love. I like the neighborhood idea. I think it’s really cool,” she said. “I’m not okay with a lot of certain rules that don’t really make sense like apparently at 12:15 we’re all supposed to get kicked out of our neighborhoods to go down stairs to the grand hall or outside but the thing is that I really don’t get where were supposed to sit outside this school is so big and there’s so many people that there is literally no where to sit.”  

Gimenez’s old school was quite different from Lamar’s. 

“It was a Catholic school and we had nuns and stuff walking around and those were like our teachers apart from our actual teachers. Everybody was really respectful, the teachers were really respectful. It’s definitely different because the classes are a lot bigger over there like here you have 25 at most, over there you have like almost 40-45 kids in one classroom,” she said.

Even though her school was very different, some things were similar as well. 

“I remember that we had uniforms but the difference is that it wasn’t a public school it was a private school. We had a cafeteria as well as a little house outside which is also part of the school. It is called ‘la cantina’. It’s like the school store except you could buy empanadas and tequenos and little appetizers that you could buy in big quantities and I thought that was really cool,” Gimenez said.

Gimenez, who was born in Barquisimeto, Venezuela talked about her background and how she came to live in America so young and the things that helped her to feel more at home while adjusting to her new life.  

“My parents finalized their divorce and my dad got custody of me so I moved to Houston, Texas permanently about June of this year,” Gimenez said. “I had the great opportunity to move to Miami and there are a lot of Hispanics down there…What made me feel more at home was still getting to eat my favorite foods like arepas which is one of our main dishes. I feel very grateful for having that opportunity.”

Yasaman Dida, a senior who was born in Iran, moved here almost three years ago.

“In Iran we have only boys or only girls schools and we have a very strict dress code. We have to cover our hair and wear long covers.The hours are less than here. We would only be in school from seven to one. We have courses but we don’t have those courses everyday. We are at a more advanced level of math and science and language so it was very stressful as well as the tests we are required to take part in even if they are not mandatory by the school, something similar to the SAT’s,” Dida said.

The dress code at Dida’s school in Iran was a lot more strict, conservative and traditional. 

“The coverings that we wear are called ‘Hijab.’ However the covering rules vary from country to country, in my country you only have the scarf on your head and it’s okay if part of your hair is showing. Your body, no your body can’t be showing. Right now fashion in my country got a little bit more ‘in trend’. People are starting to wear more long coats and coverings and a long pair of jeans,” Dida said.

Although Dida is enjoying her life in America getting to know new people and making new friends she still misses things that she used to do in her country.

“All of my family is there and everything that I know is there, everything that defines me is still there and I do miss the food culture you know sometimes. We just go hiking every friday. My friends and I used to hold some clubs. It was mostly a nonviolent protestant club for women called ‘White Wednesday,’” she said. “It was a protest for the mandatory covering that the women have to wear. But I mostly just miss the people.” 

Dida loves helping people and her community out in any way that she can.

“So I volunteer in food banks and communities that make food for the homeless. I help out with packaging and simple things like that. I’ll also help out animal shelters, it’s just simply walking the dogs, brushing them and making sure that they have food,” Dida said.

Moving to America was a bit of a rough adjustment for Dida and she explained that a lot of her first experiences were not the best.

“When I first came here my English was really bad so my insecurities really held me back from communicating with people. After one year my English got better,” Dida said. “Basically I just met a lot of new people that I have a lot in common with but at the same time I’m very different from. So that helps me to learn more about people and educate myself more.”