Placer High School Welcomes Foreign Exchange Students


Photo credit: Kaya Moore

Placer High school is hosting 4 foreign exchange students. From left to right, Max Behre (Gremany), Lisa Infantino (Belgium), Eunseo Choi (South Korea), Lucia Matysakova (Slovakia)

Story by Maximilian Behre, Newspaper staff

Placer High School is hosting four exchange students this year, who come from different countries such as Belgium, Slovakia, Korea, and Germany. They are Lisa Infantino, Lucy Matysakova, Lydia Eunseo Choi, and Maximilian Behre, and they are all having a unique and life-changing experience in Auburn, California.

This exchange year has been amazing for Infantino. “I feel more independent and confident and I have grown up faster,” she said. Although it can be hard sometimes to miss her family and friends, she is, “trying to focus on my life here because I know that this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

Lucy Matysakova, who is from Slovakia, said, “doing an exchange year is not changing your life, but it’s like gaining a completely new and different second life.” She has found new friends and has learned how to build everything from scratch again, which has changed her as a person.

“I hate to think about going back home in a few months because I know that I might never have the chance to come back to Auburn,” said Matysakova.

Matysakova explained her experience as a new student, “People approach me differently and ask me different questions, and so I do feel rather special. Everyone is very curious though,  and no one has made me feel unwanted or unwelcome.”

Choi said, “it was really good to have a new experience, but I am sad to go home in a few months.” At first, she missed her family and friends, but now she is looking forward to going back to Korea soon. Truth be told, she has adapted well to the culture and is used to the different food. She is sad and will miss the new people she has met, especially her friends and host families.

“I’m looking forward to going back to my daily life in Korea, but I’m very sad and I’ll miss them because I have to go back to Korea and say goodbye to my new people, especially my friends and host families,” stated Choi.

Sage Byerrum, who is from Placer High School and is now participating in her exchange year in Denmark. She said, “I was so excited to go on this exchange year. It worked out perfectly for me because I originally wanted to graduate early, and this gave me the opportunity to have a “gap-year” while still in high school.”

Byerrum has many friends and her life in Denmark is structured in a way that she has never experienced before. “I’m excited to see all of my friends and family again, but to be honest, if I could stay in Denmark forever I would,” she stated.

One of the programs for that is the Rotary Youth Exchange program, which offers students options for short-term or long-term exchange programs and hosting opportunities. Rotary is a global service-based club with a focus on supporting youth in the community. The program is run by volunteers with the goal of enhancing the global community.

“Motivation and maturity should be hugely considered when deciding on an exchange program,” Brandee Ambrosia from Rotary stated.

The application process starts in October of the year before the exchange. This is so that the students can fully prepare for their exchange. To sign up students have to write a brief email to the Rotary club and introduce themselves. After that students will have an interview with the organization. When that is done, some online paperwork will follow.

These four exchange students are having a wonderful time at Placer High School and a life-changing experience. They have learned a lot, made new friends, and adapted well to the culture. They will always cherish these memories and be grateful for this amazing opportunity.