You’re in For(eign) a Treat – China


Preethi Kumar, Contributor

Quinn Zhang is a foreign exchange student that traveled to Minnesota all the way from China. I sat down and talked with her about what it’s like being on the opposite side of the world.


Zhang is 16 years old and from Beijing, China. Although she is 16, she is taking classes that are correlated with different grades, like US history (11th grade) and Algebra ll (10th). She is staying with Ms. Aikey, an English teacher here at PLHS.


Zhang had many reasons for wanting to become an exchange student.  First, she wanted to experience a new culture. “I wanted to experience Christmas and Thanksgiving here in America,” says Zhang. She also wanted to improve her English and try American cuisine.


When Quinn found out she was coming to Minnesota, she didn’t know much. “I knew Minnesota was very cold, but not much else.” She knew a lot about California because it’s popular in China because of its climate. Zhang was hoping for a warmer place, like Florida or Hawaii.


When traveling here, Zhang was a bit confused. Since everything was in English, she had a harder time getting from place to place in the airport. Not only that, but she was traveling by herself. I can barely get through the lunch line by myself, let alone across the world! But luckily she had some free time, which allowed her to do something we all love, shopping!


Quinn arrived in the U.S. back in August. When she got here she said she was very confused. “I don’t remember much about what I felt at first because of how confused I was.”


The schooling system is very different in China compared to here. In China, the teachers go to the classes versus the classes moving to a new teacher every hour. Their school days lasts from 8 am to 5 pm, and they have 8 classes. They aren’t allowed to pick their own classes, since the school picks it for them. They also have to eat the food the school serves. They are not allowed to bring a home lunch, unless dietary restrictions keep them from eating the food. They also wear uniforms every day to school.


In Quinn’s opinion, schooling here is much easier. In fact, Math is her favorite subject in the U.S. because it is very difficult in China, but she has an easy time with it here.


A high school tradition that Zhang enjoyed a lot was homecoming week! Although she didn’t attend the dance, she loved dressing up during spirit week. Her favorite dress up day was Pajama day, which I’m sure we can ALL agree on.


She also loved Halloween! For Halloween, Quinn dressed up in a traditional Chinese outfit called a Hanfu.


Quinn has had quite the Minnesotan experience here. She got to go to the Mall of America. Not only this, but she got to experience the greatest touchdown in the history of touchdowns. She said, “Ms. Aikey was screaming ‘OMG, OMG!!’ when the touchdown was made during the playoff games, but I didn’t really understand why she was so excited.” Either way, Quinn really DIGGed  experiencing this.


The way Chinese food is given in the United States is quite different compared to how they eat it in China. Here, we usually have rice with chicken on top of the rice. In China, they have a bowl of rice, and they pick whatever they may like from the rotating table. This type of table is called a “Lazy Susan” table.


Quinn has had a wonderful time here in Minne-snow-ta! Let’s keep this going so she can go back to China and tell them what “Minnesota nice” is all about!