Foreign Exchange Students


Photo by Thitichaya Phuchiaochanwit

Phuchiaochanwit and Cobas at the SHS Homecoming football game.

New school year, new foreign exchange students. Five foreign exchange students traveled from their various home countries to study abroad at Stoughton High School. They came to take part in SHS’ foreign exchange program. Since they came from all over the world, they each have very different experiences, backgrounds, and cultures to bring to SHS.
Junior Joshua Knapp came from Heidelberg, Germany. Knapp explained how his experiences here in Stoughton differ from those in Germany.
“Each day of the week, [we] have a different schedule, and teachers teach many different subjects. Back in Germany, the teachers come to the classrooms and not the students to the teacher,” Knapp says.
When traveling to the US to study abroad, Knapp did not go through a foreign exchange program at his school. Instead, he used an organization called Education First (EF). In order to qualify for EF, you have to take a test to apply along with having to answer many of questions so that they can match you with the right family based on your personality and interests.
When asked who inspired him to study abroad, Knapp cites his mom.
“A good friend of my mom, her son, went to America. This friend told my mom about it, and my mom was excited and […] thought it was a great idea,” Knapp says.
Knapp felt a wide range of emotions when it was time for him to leave Germany to study abroad.
“I was a little mad at first, but the closer my departure came, it became pretty exciting, and I’m pretty happy I made that decision,” Knapp says.
For studying abroad, Knapp did not get to pick where he was going. All he picked was the area where he wanted to be, but he did not get to pick exactly which state he wanted to live in. When asked, he expressed his thoughts on SHS.
“I think that I can be pretty happy I’m here in Stoughton because it’s not too small but also not too big. I was told that the bigger a high school is, the harder it is to get into the student life and to get friends and meet new people,” Knapp says. “[Studying abroad was] way more fun than I thought and way more relaxing. You’re way more independent.”
Junior Marina Cobas came from Madrid, Spain. Cobas shared what she misses about her home in Spain.
“I miss hanging out and going for a walk because here people don’t walk a lot, and in Spain, we’re always walking,” Cobas says.
Every place is different wherever you go, and, according to the foreign exchange students of SHS, it’s good to go out into the world and gain new knowledge that you might not have learned anywhere else. You might find something that you are interested in and fall in love with it. There are so many things that you can find and explore in this world that are yet to be discovered.
Something that Cobas enjoys doing is drawing and dancing non-competitively. Something she loves about SHS is the class variety. One type of class that Cobas enjoys are the culinary arts classes because that is not a typical class offered in Spain. Another new class she enjoys is biology.
Cobas also appreciates the teacher involvement.
“All the teachers and the counselors and [how they] help students a lot,” Cobas says.
Senior Thitichaya Phuchiaochanwit came all the way from Thailand to study at SHS. Phuchiaochanwit says that her favorite memory from this school year was Homecoming week.
This is just one of the memories Phuchiaochanwit cherishes from her time at SHS, and she will make plenty more throughout the upcoming school year. However, she also misses some aspects of home.
“I miss all of the [spicy food] because, in Thailand, we have a lot of flavor in food. The food here is very different from my country, so I really miss the food, and of course, I miss my family and my friends,” Phuchiaochanwit says.
Even though there is a lot she misses from her home country, Phuchiaoch-
anwit also enjoys some differences that America has to offer.
“[I like] that we can choose all of the subjects by [ourselves], and [I like] the teachers. Everyone here is always nice,” Phuchiaoch- anwit says.
Although this year’s foreign exchange students have experienced hardships such as leaving their homes, immersing themselves in a new language and culture, and many other new changes, they have overcome them and met new people within Stoughton.
“I want to be friends with everyone. [It’s] very difficult to get to know new people because my English is not very good, but I hope I can improve my speaking skills better so that I can make a lot of friends and have good memories in SHS before I return to my country,” Phuchiaochanwit says.
Coming to SHS for her senior year, Phuchiaoch- anwit has experienced many things that most of us could only dream of doing.
Although Knapp, Cobas, and Phuchiaochanwit have all had to face similar hardships that come with leaving one’s home, they have also made new friends and memories to last a lifetime.