Placer Welcomes Foreign Exchange Students

By  Kylie Metzler

Messenger Staff Writer


There is a new student roaming the Placer High School campus that has traveled almost 5,000 miles to be in Auburn and study at our school.

Foreign exchange students travel from their own country to stay with a host family in a different country and experience a new culture. They typically stay for one semester or the entire school year. While they are studying abroad, the classes they take do not count for any credit in their home country. Over the years, Placer High School has hosted students from places like Italy, Belgium, Germany, Slovakia, and Chile. Placer continues the tradition this semester.


“I like the school and the personalities and just everything. It’s really interesting. There’s been nothing that I really dislike. My host family is also really nice “, stated Marieke Petersen, a 16 year old German foreign exchange student currently attending Placer High School.


Although a student’s year abroad does not count academically, it can benefit them emotionally. It has been proven that foreign exchange students have returned home with higher self-esteem and more confidence. They get the chance to live independently at a young age.


“I think it’s a great opportunity for them to experience American culture on a day to day basis, to see what a family’s like, to see what school is like. They obviously improve their English a great deal, and it’s a great way to build some friendships, kind of make some connections, some world connections that help build understanding through relationships “ , said Thomas Schroeder, a teacher at Placer who oversees our German Exchange Program.


Even though foreign exchange students get to experience a new lifestyle, it can be difficult to adjust to their new surroundings, or even make friends.


“It’s a little bit harder than I thought maybe, I don’t know really. It’s that kind of everybody is really open and curious, I think. But it’s kind of hard to go wider than that, you know, above the curiousity. In the beginning it was harder and I felt more homesick, but now it’s just kind of like, I’m away from home. It’s okay” , Petersen elaborated.


While in an entirely different country, the exchange students may be surprised by our culture or how different things are than they thought it would be.


“I don’t think I would have expected everybody to be so friendly. It’s like, I was in New York and couldn’t find the train station, and the woman was just like, ‘Okay I will bring you there.’ And she was running with us through the city and bringing us to our subway. We were really surprised that everyone was so nice and friendly” , added Petersen.


Not only can you be friends with a foreign exchange on the Placer campus, you yourself can attend school in another country. Rotary Youth Exchange gives students at Placer the opportunity to travel abroad. Students who are interested can pick up a packet in the office.


Being an exchange student presents many new opportunities and challenges, and the transition can be difficult. Make sure our foreign exchange students feel at home on our Placer campus!