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The Student News Site of Fresno Christian High School

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The Student News Site of Fresno Christian High School

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Exchange students adjust to new life

Clifton Fadiman, U.S. author, editor and radio host once said, “When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable.”

This statement proved false on Sept. 29 as impatience spread through the English III Honors class. While they waited to leap out of their seats, the door slid open and chaos erupted from students shouting, “Surprise!”

The stunned German teenager, Christof Schnur, ’06, walked into the classroom amazed at the blue and yellow streamers that hung from the ceiling.

With the help of eager students, cake, ice cream and lemonade were passed around the room. Schnur found that friendly people include American teenagers. The Feather’s photographer, Brianna Stobbe, ’06, and younger sisters, Brittany and Brooke, planned and decorated the surprise party.

“I was surprised that a lot [about America] is like all the movies,” Schnur said. “There are a lot more Christians in America [they make up about 5% of the population in Germany], and people are very friendly. There are more fast food restaurants here than in Germany. The best new things I’ve discovered are smoothies!”

Other foreign students from our school include brother and sister Jong-Hyun Cho, ’08, and Young-Ju Cho, ’05, who ventured half a world away from their South Korean homeland, in hopes that American teens would welcome them to their land.

“The best thing I have done in America is finding American friends and getting to know them,” Young-Ju, who has been in America five years, said. “Also, it’s been good to learn English.”

Her younger brother also found a welcoming atmosphere on campus.

“In America most people nicer than Korean people,” Jong-Hyun, who has been here two years, said. “One of the best things that’s happened in America, is that I made a best friend.”

Differences in the education system, like math requirements and electives, surprised Schnur when he came to America.

“In Germany, education involves at least ten years of school- your schedule is fixed, except that you get to pick the three languages you learn,” Schnur said. “To get into college, another three years of school are needed. There are no electives in Germany; you have to do those after school, but the best thing about school there is that college is free.”

Americans may take the liberties they posses for granted, but Schnur is constantly reminded of the freedoms he gained when he made the temporary move to California.

“There is one freedom here that is very different,” Schnur said. “It’s not really a law; I would call it freedom of career. Here in the U.S. you have bigger freedom to change careers. It is very hard in Germany to get the skills for special job. It takes a lot of time.”

In Korea, most freedoms are similar to the United States, but school regulations are stricter on the students.

“When I was in Korean junior high school, I had to wear a uniform and I had to stay at school from 7:30 A.M. to 5 P.M.,” Young-Ju said. “My hair was three centimeters long, [measured from the bottom of her ear], and the teachers had to move around to different classrooms, while the students stay in the classroom.”

Three campus students have braved the long flight and language barrier to undergo life from a totally different perspective, but they are succeeding and adapting.

“When I first came here I saw a lot of differences between Korea and America, and I was kind of afraid to talk to people, because I couldn’t speak any English at the time,” Young-Ju said. “But now, I can fit in American culture.”

For more information on becoming an exchange student, go to www.twoworldsunited.com.

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