BHS Exchange Students Adapt to Their Home Away From Home

Exchange students face many culture shocks from daily American life.

The idea of getting into a car with a student of her age shocked Femke Mammen 23’, an exchange student from Germany living in Buffalo for the year. She knew teenagers in the US were allowed to drive, but it didn’t really hit her until she actually got in the car with her 16-year-old classmate. Mammen found it weird that 16-year-olds can drive. On the other hand, many American teenagers find it odd that teens from Germany can’t drive, but can drink.

The life of an exchange student is not one often thought deeply about. People mostly think about the surface things, like how different it would be to live with a new family for a whole year. Talking to a foreign exchange student opens the mind to things most people wouldn’t have thought of. Rather than finding the basics, like living with a new family weird, Benny D’attilia 23’ had something else that surprised her.

“The weirdest thing to me when coming to America is leaving a tip at a restaurant,” Said D’attilia. “We never do that In Italy, and it’s super common here.”

After most people learn to live with something, they don’t imagine what it’s like without it. This isn’t the case for exchange students. Most of them have to very quickly leave the things that made their exchange year run smoothly. Even if it doesn’t necessarily help their year run smoother, it still could be something that brings them great joy.

“I will miss seeing animals roaming around,” Said D’attilia. You never see wild animals in Rome.”

Some of the little things that exchange students love so much in America might go forgotten after leaving. However, some things stick with foreign exchange students forever. The family that they stay with and the friends they make are memories they won’t ever forget. The thought of leaving friends and family bonds she’s made has started to hit D’attilia.

“Thinking about leaving makes me really sad,” Said D’attilia. “Knowing that I will probably never see some of them again upsets me. I’m so grateful for my host family and friends here because they made my experience here amazing.”

Moving to a different country and learning new things can seem scary for most people. Looking at the positives and focusing on making the best of the experience is something for many to learn from Foreign exchange students.

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