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A Whole New World

Delaney Tarpley

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“It was a dream of mine.” When speaking to the foreign exchange students of LHS, this might be a common answer when asking them why they decided to pack their bags, kiss their families goodbye and fly thousands of miles to come to America for a year. While most seem to agree that the food is less healthy and school work is easier here, each has been excited about the opportunities presented to them. Some of which are opportunities they never even thought possible.

Benjamin Albornoz-Chile

Benjamin Albornoz started his journey in America on August 11 by doing the most American thing possible: eating authentic American food in Liberty’s local 54th Street.

“Eating there was a nice way to get introduced to American culture right away,” said Albornoz.

Coming all the way from Chile, Benja was welcomed into both his host family and his school almost instantly.

“It’s like getting a new brother,” his host brother, junior Will Laycock said.

Albornoz took a big leap coming to America. Not only is this his first time in America, but also his first time out of his own country.

“One of my favorite things to do is travel,” said Albornoz. “I used to travel a lot in Chile, so when I heard about this program I was really really interested. It was one of my dreams to come to America.”

There have been some major differences that Albornoz has noticed since coming here. While he says that the geographical difference is vast with fewer mountains, the different mentality of the American people is the one that’s taken more getting used to.

“The biggest difference to me is the lack of mountains in this area,” Albornoz said. “In Chile, you can see the Andes Mountains from all of parts of the country. The people are also different here. In general they are more kind or more mean. There’s not much of an inbetween here. I don’t always like the mentality of the people. I have to speak with all different kinds of people who I don’t agree with very often.”

That being said, Albornoz is very excited about all the opportunities that America has to offer, specifically college.

“I like the opportunities that I can have for higher education here,” Albornoz said. “My country doesn’t have the best choices for higher education.”

Albornoz isn’t the only one that has been learning from this experience. His host family is learning a lot about different cultures while also trying to teach aspects of their own culture.

“It’s interesting to kind of have to teach someone about all these things that I thought were simple,” Laycock said. “Having to explain things like Homecoming is the biggest difference. You have to teach someone about something instead of just doing it with them.”

Anita Desmaris-Germany 

To Anita Desmaris, America is a place that was once called home. However, even after being a resident of New York for two years she was a toddler, some differences between America and Germany still take some getting used to.

“The driving age is a little strange to me,” Desmaris said. “In Germany it’s 18 but in America it’s 16. I don’t like that you don’t have much public transportation. You have to use the car for everything. Also the food is very different. Here, the food is more unhealthy.”

The blending of the German and American cultures has taught a lot to members of her host family, specifically her host sister, freshman Brindi Gale.

“So far my favorite part about having a foreign exchange student has been learning about her culture and getting to have someone new in my house,” Gale said. “Learning more about her culture has been the coolest thing.”

Desmaris has also taken notice of the differences between the school systems.

“I have some classes here that feel really easy, but my harder classes are about the same level of difficulty as Germany classes are,” Desmaris said.

Desmaris has not wasted any time getting involved in the activities that LHS has to offer. Joining the tennis team helped her to make new friends along with going to several of the football games.

“I am really enjoying the football games,” Desmaris said. “They’re a lot of fun and it’s a new sport for me to learn because we don’t really have it in Germany.”

However, being an exchange student isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Desmaris still misses the life and the people she left behind in Germany.

“I miss my family and my friends,” Desmaris said. “I talk to them about once a week on Sundays.”

Desmaris has found that even though she left some of her old friends behind, her new friends that she is making are proving to be kinder than she previously thought.

“You are all very nice here,” Desmaris said. “I was not expecting that because I knew I was going to be the new girl.”

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A Whole New World