New school year, new exchange students

Jule Janine Stock, Contributor and PLHS Foreign Exchange Student

With every new school year, there are new students, but the freshmen are not the only new faces at Prior Lake High School. Each year, the high school hosts exchange students from all over the world.


This school year, Prior Lake High School has 11 new exchange students from Europe and Asia. Those new students sit in classes and take in the whole American high school experience. Most students do not recognize them.


Right now, the high school has four students from Spain, two students from Germany, and one each from Portugal, South Korea, Japan, and Denmark.


Exchange students decide to study in the U.S. for many different reasons.  Some want to practice their English, some want to experience the culture and traditions, and some just want to spend a lot of money on American stuff.


Some would think it’s crazy to leave their home country to go to a strange country with another language and different traits. However, the exchange students at Prior Lake aren’t intimidated by that. Instead, they look forward to making new friends and lifelong memories during the year.


“I just wanted to do something different,“ said  Elise Reedtz, an exchange student from Denmark, after being asked why she chose to do an exchange year abroad.


She’d had enough of the same boring school years at home and wanted to experience American high school and other cultures.


Rebeca Morales, a junior from Spain, responded that she did an exchange year because English was always a part of her life and that’s why she wanted to start living an English life. 


Like many students at PLHS, most of the exchange students have joined a club or a sports team. This year Nuria Hermida, an exchange student from Spain, and Sophie Hornung, one of the German students, joined the Swim Team.


Another sport where you can find exchange students this year is the Volleyball Team. Rebeca Morales, Elise Reedtz and Jule Stock, a German exchange student, all joined the Volleyball Team. Each played Volleyball in their home country and wanted to continue here at PLHS. 


Coralie Huguet, the French exchange student, joined the JV Soccer Team. Emily Kim, from South Korea, plays on the Prior Lake Tennis Team.


Sports teams are not the only place where you can find exchange students. Some of them have already joined a club or are thinking about it. Elise Reedtz and Sophie Hornung joined the Student Council and Sora Kotoku, a student from Japan, joined the Asian Student Association.


‘‘People seemed to be very nice and welcoming,“ said Reedtz, who chose to join the Student Council because she wanted to be involved in the school. 


In Europe and other countries that don’t speak English as their mother tongue, it is necessary to learn English in school. Students typically start at elementary school learning easy English vocabulary. After a few years, most will add on a third language.


But learning a language in school is different than actually speaking it the whole day with native English speakers. 


‘‘It’s hard to be myself,” said Sora Kotoku, the senior exchange student from Japan.


Nuria Hurmida, a Spanish exchange student, said that it’s just difficult when she doesn’t have the vocabulary for a question or a sentence. She has no problems with the language itself.


As if understanding English isn’t hard enough, learning the ‘‘normal‘‘ American habits and culture adds to the challenge.


A big difference almost all exchange students said is the American cars. They are so big and almost everyone has one. Americans like to drive everywhere. 


The Spanish exchange student Rebeca said that she sometimes misses walking places on foot. The others agreed that American cars are just huge in comparison to European cars.


Sometimes exchange students can choose where they want to spend their year, and sometimes they can’t. The exchange students from this year weren’t able to choose where they want to spend their year, but all of them love to be here in Minnesota. 


Sophie, from Germany, thinks that it is really cool in Minnesota. She likes the lakes, and she was surprised that you can do so much stuff in this state.


‘‘I was really surprised because in Japan you can only see squirrels when you are in a Zoo or something,” said Sora who loves the nature in Minnesota and was surprised to see so much wildlife.


One thing the exchange students are probably not prepared for is the winter in Minnesota.


‘‘Maybe in the winter we will freeze to death,” said Sora while laughing. 


Even with the cold temperatures in the winter, the exchange students are all happy to be at Prior Lake High School. 

Jule Janine Stock