As the students celebrate the last day of school on Thursday, May 30, the end of the year will conclude MVAOCOU four high school students year as foreign exchange students.
YuJin Choi from South Korea
and Giulia Fattori from Italy
YuJin Choi is a junior from South Korea. Choi wanted to be a foreign exchange student to learn English better and have the American experience.
“I saw a lot of movies/dramas that talked about American high school,” Choi said, “and I wanted to go there.”
Choi got to experience things like homecoming and prom during her year at MVAOCOU.
She noted that high school in South Korea is really hard and has about 2,000 people in her school.
“Everyone knows everyone here,” Choi said.
Senior Giulia Fattori from Italy received her diploma from MVAOCOU during commencement on May 19.
She also wanted to be a foreign exchange student to learn the English language better and learn about a different culture.
“It was a big difference when I first came,” Fattori said as MVAOCOU is a lot smaller.
Choi and Fattori have taken different courses this year, taking pre-calculus and foods class together.
Foods was Fattori’s favorite class while Choi enjoyed being in choir.
During the course of the year, Fattori was a football/wrestling cheerleader and participated in quiz bowl and track. Choi was a wrestling cheerleader and was on the golf team.
Fattori said one of the biggest differences in the United State compared to Italy is the length of the school day, as MVAOCOU’s school day is longer. In Italy, they don’t eat lunch at school. Once they go home for lunch, the school day is done. Their class schedule in Italy isn’t the same every day. Over the course of the week, they will have a total of five hours of math (for example they might have two on Monday, two on Tuesday, and one on Friday).
Fattori and Choi both said that back in their countries, students don’t change classrooms. The teachers switch to different classrooms.
Choi said that having a Chromebook while at MVAOCOU has been different for her because she said they don’t use technology or phones in school in South Korea, they just use handwriting.
Social media (Skyscape and Facetime) has helped Fattori and Choi stay connected with their families. Both also call their families about once a week.
Even with her MVAOCOU diploma, Fattori still has one year of school left in Italy because they have five years of high school. She is still undecided want she will go into after high school.
After returning home, Choi plans to get a GED and take her SAT and go to college where she wants to major in English.
Matthias Danner from Germany
and Puwamate “Dollar” Kitchaisawat from Thailand
Puwamate “Dollar” Kitchaisawat is a sophomore from Thailand. He wanted to be a foreign exchange student because he wanted to see how well he spoke English and to further study English.
Matthias Danner is a junior from Germany. Like the others, he wanted to speak English better, learn the culture, and have an opportunity to play baseball.
“It was a cultural shock for me at first,” Kitchaisawat said because it was hard at first.
Danner is from a city of 170,000 people in Germany, so the size of the community and school was a big differences for him.
One of the other differences for Kitchaisawat has been the weather.
“Cold,” Kitchaisawat said. “In Thailand, we have summer all year long.”
While at MVAOCOU, Kitchaisawat has taken pre-calculus, chemistry, physics, and art. He has been involved in band and wrestling.
Danner has taken Spanish, physical education, science, career tech, communication, and history. Physical education has been his favorite, as he likes sports in general. He also enjoyed history. He participated in track and will get to play baseball until he goes home on June 30.
In Germany, Danner said they go to school from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and don’t eat lunch at school. He added school in Germany is more strict. They can’t choose classes they take until they are juniors or seniors.
Kitchaisawat said in Thailand, they have block scheduling and how you learn things is different because they have lots of tests compared to homework. While Kitchaisawat said the Chromebooks at MVAOCOU have made assignments easier, back home he is used to using pencil and paper and working on problems on the white board.
Both have stayed connected to their families over the year, but said the time difference is hard.
“I’ll call my parents at 8 p.m. because my mom is up between 5 and 6 a.m.,” Kitchaisawat said. He will also text them through an app.
The time difference to Germany is seven hours, so Danner mostly calls his parents on the weekend and sends text messages to his friends.
After returning home, Kitchaisawat and Danner each have two more years of school left.
While in the United States, Kitchaisawat has tried lots of new foods, and Danner has enjoyed the steak.