Foreign Exchange Student Plunges Into the Unknown

Kitana Ford, Proof Reader

Feelings of fear rise. As you draw a breath you step off of the plane onto new grounds. You look around and absorb your new surroundings; you have just travelled across the world into a new country as part of the Foreign Exchange program. This program gives students the ability to travel to another country and live there for a year while learning a new language, and experiencing a new culture.

Senior Hillary Parades Saldana, a foreign exchange student from Peru, is one of the many participants in this program.


>What country are you from?




>How does your life in Peru differ from your life in Lake Havasu City?


I have a small family and a little dog. In my family, my sister is going to the United States to [participate] in the Foreign Exchange Program [as well]. Here, I’m a cheerleader—which is a big experience for me because in my country we don’t have cheer. During fall break I [got to] experience riding a horse, mini golf and eating junk food for the first time.


>How do the school systems differ?


It’s very different. For example, you can choose classes here; in my country you can’t. You can move to other classes, while in my country the students stay [with the same] teacher all day. In my school we have [full] uniforms and wear the same clothes everyday. We also start in March and  finish in December.


>Is there anything you are looking forward to while in the United States?


Learning about the culture and the traditions here, [as well as] meet my house families.


>Can you tell me about Foreign Exchange?


It’s difficult at first because you miss your family and friends as well as go through [many] house families. In December, I will go to my second house family. You have to adapt to a new culture and meet new people while missing out on what is happening in your country.


Ultimately, the Foreign Exchange is a program that offers students the ability to study a year abroad in a new country. Students learn about the world in a way that textbooks never reveal; they become accustomed to new languages and cultures while giving them the opportunity to learn about themselves as well.