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AFS Foreign Exchange students reflect on the year

Sophia Comas, Features Editor

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While the majority of Manhattan High begins to prepare themselves for summer, the AFS Foreign Exchange Program students are preparing themselves for their return home after spending the year in America.

Sponsored by Tony Wichmann, the club gave students an opportunity to make new friends while simultaneously learning about new customs different from their own cultures.

“Quite often, especially in the beginning, we had meetings on how to discuss different concerns, expectations and all that kind of stuff,” Tobias Ruud, from Norway, said. “I would say that helped quite a bit. We got to meet all the people and it was a good start.”

The decision to come to America came from varying forms of inspiration, whether it came from friends or family.

“I have a lot of members of my family that decided to do it, my brother and two cousins, so I thought it would be cool to do it,” Goncalo Matos, from Portugal, said. “It’s an amazing experience.”

The feeling of leaving all that one has grown accustomed to and knows best is not easily settled, as the feeling followed the students throughout their beginning days in America.

“It’s kind of natural. It just happens. You’re cut off from your family, your friends, everything you know,” Ruud said. “In the beginning you’re kind of alone so you have to figure out things.”

While native citizens don’t really see an issue with the name of their town, it’s easy to see how one can become confused when the Little Apple’s sister city in the northeast bears the same name.  

“I thought it was New York the first time that they said it but no it was Kansas,” Matos said. “My mom just said Manhattan and then I realized they meant Kansas.”

The difference in the two cities may have caused disappointment, but to others this neck of the woods brought nothing but delight.

“I was pretty happy because I checked it out on Google Earth and thought it was pretty neat,” Jean Malbranque, from France, said. “I saw that there was a university so I saw the atmosphere. I think it’s better than Topeka. We’re not liking the state but the city is pretty good.”

The new towns aren’t the only new experiences, as the foreign exchange students have now gotten insight as to how American high school operates.

“High school is really really cool with all the sports like being a part of the team in soccer and tennis,” Malbranque said. “Also watching the sports like basketball was good.”

Traveling to foreign parts of the world not only offers a new city surrounding, but it also offers a multitude of new friendship and bonds they will never forget.

“[Friends] have meant everything. It has meant quite a bit, especially as I said in the beginning of the year, you’re more uncertain, you’re not that confident,” Ruud said. “Now it’s still fun but it was more important in the beginning.”

 

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AFS Foreign Exchange students reflect on the year