Out-of-country Comets: Exchange students reflect on experiences

Rosebelle Toledo, Reporter

To leave behind all you have ever known for the opportunity of a lifetime is a daunting idea to ponder for most. However, this year Chanute High School has three foreign exchange students that have faced this challenge.
“At first I was scared of stuff because of the cultural shock, but then you start to get used to the school and everything gets better,” junior Mario Siaz Fernandez said, who originates from Spain.
Along with nerves and worries also comes the homesickness. For most, being away from home for a few days can stress us, but these students are braving the world, away from home, for a year.
For Luca Borbeck, a junior from Switzerland, he misses his country’s cuisine the most. However, for Fernandez, his family is his sole loss.
Due to said reasons, many may wonder, with all this worry and heart ache, “Why would one wish to become a foreign exchange student?” The answers vary.
Junior Julius Maucher, a student from Germany, states, “I wanted to become an exchange student because I wanted to break out of the routine. School is…always the same and I just wanted to see something else, like an American high school.”
Some of the positives and negatives are due to the differences between the exchange student’s home country and the country in which they are studying abroad.
“The way people see money [is different]. In Spain everyone invites other people for dinner… [and] someone will offer themselves to pay everything. Here, everyone pays for their own things,” Fernandez relates.
He also noted multiple educational differences; “We don’t play sports in high school, instead we play them outside of high school, in like private clubs, and also things like homecoming, prom, we don’t have any of that.”
Maucher also noticed some of the differences between his high school in Germany and here at CHS.
“It’s way different [here]. First of all, I can select my own schedule. In Germany, I got a set schedule from the principal; and the school day, it’s like repeating everyday the same, and in Germany it’s just repeating from week to week . . . so I’ve got different hours every day and what’s really cool here is all the school activities like football, basketball, it’s like part of the school. And in Germany, it’s just like an extra class and it’s like two different things. I think school spirit in America is way different than in Germany,” Maucher explained.
There are many new experiences when one studies abroad, and the thought of change may be frightening, but overall, it’s the memories that one will create, that makes it all worthwhile.