New Faces, New Places

Foreign exchange students experience U.S. teen lifestyle


photo courtesy of Sofie Standstod

Before leaving for the U.S., foreign exchange student senior Sofie Standstod enjoys a celebration with her friends and family in Denmark.

Coming into a new country and experiencing a drastically different culture can be challenging and lonely at first, especially in the moments spent away from family and friends as they navigate the intense shock of living in an unfamiliar place. Most foreign exchange students who come to America are filled with excitement to get to know people in a new environment.  

“I’ve been living here for two weeks, and it has been a dream come true. I’m 15 now, and I’ve wanted this experience since I was a little kid,” Belgian exchange student senior Erin Huet said. “I’ve been loving the weather. The worst part is when I get nervous talking to people and I draw a blank on English words. It’s hard when I try to make people understand me but they can’t.”

According to LPI Learning, in the 2019-20 Academic Year, 77,097 international students came to Texas. 3,721 of these students attended high school or secondary schools all over the state and most of them lived with host families that are usually loving and excited to receive people from different parts of the world.

“I have been in the U.S for almost three weeks, and I’m going to be here for the school year. I really like the school spirit because it’s not something that we had back in my country,” Denmark exchange student senior Sofie Sandstod said.  “The thought of leaving my home was the hardest for me in the beginning because I didn’t know how this year would be. I worried if it would be good, or if I would regret it, but right now I’m loving it.” 

Countries from Europe are well-known for sending teenagers to the United States to study. Usually, they stay for 10 months and complete an entire school year.

“I’ve been here for almost a month, and these weeks have passed by so fast to me,” Spanish exchange student senior Angels Carbonell said. “I have visited a lot of places and I have done lots of activities since I arrived here. I enjoyed going roller skating with my friends the most. The worst thing to me is that we can’t walk around town; you need a car for everything you want to do.”