Starting school can be a very scary time of the year: new teachers, new classes and new classmates. Now imagine starting school in a different country, not knowing the language, culture or anybody.
Three foreign exchange students first set foot on American soil a couple of days before school began and started classes at Carmel High as juniors. Francesco Maisano, 17, and Chiara Fiorentini, 16, are from Italy, whereas Nicholas Vazquez, 18, is from Ecuador.
The hardest thing about being in the United States for all three of them is not knowing the language, culture or people, but they all agree that staying with a different family is a great experience.
Fiorentini’s former school was very different from CHS. In her part of Italy, you choose what school you want to go to, not the classes. For example, before coming to CHS, she went to an art school.
The school Vazquez attended was the school with the most differences. He says that the teachers are much nicer here and want to help him succeed. However, that is not the only difference.
“My old school was all boys so everything is so different,” Vazquez says.
The teachers and classes are different from what Vazquez is used to back home. Everything is new to him.
As for Maisano, his school had a shorter school day with more homework. Maisano’s old school was very similar to CHS, with one big difference: students stay in the same classroom the whole year with the same 25 students. The teachers are the ones that move from class to class.
Maisano, Fiorentini and Vazquez all did exchange programs for different reasons. Fiorentini decided it was something she wanted to do after her sister did it and liked it. She wanted to “experience a different culture and test [herself].” Vazquez wanted to learn more English and to “experience a new culture.”
“I had no idea what my future was going to be, and I hoped this year would help me figure it out,” Maisano comments.
Jeff Schatz, the counselor in charge of the students, likes the idea of having foreign exchange students at our school. He said he enjoys the fact that they bring a “new internal perspective” to things at the school. Some of the students are already finished with school, but they come to do an extra year at CHS because they want the experience.
Schatz thinks the biggest challenges of being an exchange student are not speaking the same language as the other students and trying to fit in with people and their friends.