Hi, I'm an exchange student

Authored by:
Anna M.

The title says everything. That's how exchange students find friends at school. You can't spend your first days not hearing "Ohhh so you're foreign..." or "Tell me something more about your country!" all around. People will be asking you lots of questions.

  • How do you actually pronounce your last name?
  • How long have you been here?
  • Don't you miss your family?
  • Is it different here than in your country?
  • My favorite question of all time - How is America treating you?

Now, after almost 3 weeks in American high school, I'm gonna tell you about my first experiences, what I liked and what made me confused.
The first day of Wilsonville High School was August 26th but the school counselor decided it'll more comfortable for me to start two days later. On Wednesday, I got my schedule and officially started school.

My first period was Pre-Calculus. I took a seat... and here it ends because I had literally no idea what was going on. It wasn't because of the language. It's just the way American schools are. They're completely different than Polish. I already felt overwhelmed and it was just my first class, 5 left. The teacher asked me if I know where to go and told some student to show me where my next class is. After a week or so, I changed Pre-Calculus to Trigonometry and it's much easier for me.

I expected to have 4 minutes to go from one class to another and I already got used to that. In Poland, we have 10-minute breaks and our schools are MUCH smaller so it's not a problem to be on time. I'm serious, when I first went to American high school, I felt like in a shopping center.

My next class was Acting. I can't believe students can have so much fun still being at school. You don't sit on a chair writing some meaningless things in your notebook. I literally love that class. 

Then, I had Forensics. Even before applying for an exchange, I already knew I'm gonna take that class. This is something I'm really interested in and it's the first time, I actually wanna do my homework. The only problem in Forensics is vocabulary. I wouldn't survive without google translate. After the 3rd period, we have lunch. I asked some girl from Forensics class if I can join her because I'm new and I don't know anybody :D So I spent the next 30 minutes with her and some other students. The funny thing is that now, we don't talk at all and I have totally different friends.

The next class was English 12. We had a substitute teacher and I don't even remember what we were doing. After a few days, I met my English teacher and she was so happy to have an exchange student in her class. I still remember her face and loud "no way!" when I said I'm from Poland. She is half Polish! It's so funny to teach her Polish words. Now, every day she says Cześć to me which means Hello.

My 4th period was Modern U.S. History. That class and English 12 were required by CIEE. Even if it's only for 10th graders, I had to take it. The teacher is great but... it's not really history and I think it's a little boring. Also, I don't have any friends there, maybe because everyone is like 3 years younger than me and it feels weird.

My last class was Photography. I didn't really wanna take it and it was just one of my alternatives. Turned out this is my favorite class, right after Forensics. I already learned a lot and never thought I would fall in love with photography. My first impression of the teacher was that he's mean and all we're doing is stupid. For the first 20 minutes, I was thinking only about going to the counselor to change that class. When the teacher found out that I'm an exchange student, he started to be really nice to me and said that he's foreign too. I was lucky to meet another great girl that is one of my good friends.

Every next day was only better. After a week, my host sister from Italy arrived so I don't feel lonely anymore. I like all the classes I'm taking and can't wait for another school day. It's not usual for me because in Poland I didn't really like school and the only day I was waiting for was Saturday. Here, everything's different and I must admit, it's better. Students at school are so nice and on my first day, I was just asking random people on a hallway to show me where my next class is. The teachers were telling me they understand it's all new for me and I can feel a little overwhelmed. I wanna say thank you to everyone that helped me in my first week at school. Whatever you did for me, thank you so so much!
I really like the way teachers treat students. Everyone here is equal. It's so nice when a teacher sits next to me and starts asking about my country, language, culture. I love that I can talk to them as if they're my friends. Also, when you don't understand something, you can always ask and they won't be mad.

I wasn't scared about my first day. Just because I had nothing to be scared of. I had no idea how it's gonna be like, I knew nobody and felt so lost that I just didn't care at all.

Never thought I'd say this but I like school!

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