Foreign Exchange Students Transition into American Life

Matthew Amegadzie

Senior Jin Shao Yang, foreign exchange student from Henan, China works in the library. Photo by Matthew Amegadzie

By Matthew Amegadzie
This year, Hopkinton High School is once again hosting foreign exchange students from all around the world, with countries spanning from China to Italy. Each student has had different experiences so far with American Culture and adjusting to life in Hopkinton.

Jin Shao Yang, a current senior from Henan, China, contrasted the differences between America and China saying, “In China everyone focuses on academics, while here there is a bigger focus on sports.”

Although it is a great experience with many positive aspects, there are also some disadvantages for the exchange students.

“Some things are not very convenient about living here. Not being able to drive is inconvenient since I can’t go anywhere I want and I start to get bored. I really want to be able to drive, so I can go places,” Jin said.

Another common issue is that not all of the exchange students speak English perfectly.

“Language is probably the biggest problem because if you don’t know English you cannot communicate. You need English in order to fit in,” Jin explained. “When I played basketball I was so nervous. Having to hear and speak English at the same time and also play was hard. In physics, there have been times when I know the answer, but I can’t express it. This sometimes can be very frustrating.”

Eric Peng, a sophomore from China, also agreed with Jin about the language issue. He has enjoyed his time so far and Hopkinton, but of course misses things from home as well.

“I like Hopkinton. It is very beautiful and the people are very friendly. American education is very relaxed too,” Peng noted, “But I miss my friends, my family, my hometown, and the warm climate.”

Pietro Elmi, a senior from Milan, Italy, had a slightly different transition into the American life.

“I’ve been to America before, so I know a little about the culture, and it is similar to Italy. The food is similar, since there is a lot of Italian food here,” Elmi explained.

“It is a great experience to live another culture and make new friends,” Elmi expressed, “It was difficult in the beginning but then I start enjoying it. By playing football it helped me in making friends.”

“It’s a typical town, one you usual see in the movies,” Elmi said, “People are more patriotic and more united with one another”.

Kevin Fiabema, from Oslo, Norway, also sees Hopkinton as a good community with very nice people.

“People are open even though it is not that diverse here,” said Fiabema.

Fiabema is very impressed that he can get a things such as his basketball shoes a lot easier.

“You can get anything here, everything somehow comes to the U.S.,” Fiabema noted, “Basketball isn’t that big in Norway, so there is much easier access to products here.”

The foreign exchange students will continue to live their lives and further adjust to American life for the remainder of the school year. Some are even planning to attend university in the United States after graduation.

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