By Ashley Hocking
Five students left their homes and crossed borders to get to LHS to study abroad for a year. These five students came from Brazil, Italy, Germany and South Korea.
Senior Marty Urbinati from Italy is spending the school year with her host parents, Cynthia and George Norton. The Nortons host a different exchange student every year.
Urbinati decided to embark on the journey of being an exchange student because she’s always been fond of America and wanted to meet new people.
When Urbinati first arrived in America, the first thing she noticed was how big everything was compared to her Italian home.
“Just looking [at] Lawrence [you see] bigger streets and stores,” Urbinati said. “Everything here is bigger than it is in Italy.”
Another big difference she has noticed between Italy and America is the school systems. In Italy, school starts at 8 a.m. and students are released at 1 p.m. Students there take five classes each semester, as opposed to the seven classes in America.
“It’s really different because you have so many students here and you can choose between so many subjects,” Urbinati said.
Junior and second year German exchange student Christoph Brandt also observed many differences from German and American schools. In Germany, students stay in a class with the same classmates for six years. German students also can’t participate in sports in schools.
At LHS, Brandt is a member of the JV soccer team and wants to play basketball in the winter.
Brandt decided to study abroad because he had been to America a few times before and decided to sample the American way of life for a more extended period of time. He is living with senior Nathan Shobe and his family for the school year.
Sophomore Keunuk Jeong from South Korea decided to become an exchange student to be immersed in American culture, make friends and learn English.
Jeong said the biggest difference between South Korea and America is the span of time students spend at school. In South Korea, students begin their day at 7:30 a.m. and finish their school day at 10 p.m.
Another stark variation between the two countries is the housing. Most South Koreans live in apartment buildings that are many stories high, while Americans typically live in isolated one to three-story homes.
Senior Isis Miranda, who is originally from Brazil, came to America for a year because her father got offered a job to teach at the University of Kansas. She came along with her mother and father to America to improve her English.
“I think America is a good place to live. Everyone here is so nice and friendly,” Miranda said. “In Brazil, we have a lot of violence and here [there isn’t].”
The toughest part of being away from her Brazilian home is being away from her friends and boyfriend of three years. It hasn’t been hard for her to keep in contact though, with the use of Facebook and Skype.
“It’s like I’m there,” Miranda said.
Cedric Fuss, junior and German exchange student, also utilizes Skype to keep in contact with his family at home.
“I skype often with my parents, so I don’t miss them so much,” Fuss said.
He also came to America to improve his English and experience a new culture.
“The people are much more open and nicer than in Germany,” Fuss said. “But, the food is not so good. It’s healthier in Germany.”
Fuss is living with freshman Trey Georgie and his family for the year. The Georgie family has had an exchange student in the past, which prompted them to want to host another.
At the end of the school year, these five students will traverse seas and borders to return to their homes. An experience like this only happens once in a lifetime.
“I will never forget the friends I made,” Fuss said.