Coming To America

Emma DePablo shares her insights on being a foreign exchange student.

Coming To America

Lilly Ganczak, Staff Writer

England? France? Demark? How about Spain?

Imagine getting to spend a whole year learning the culture and studying abroad in one of these countries. Being a foreign exchange student is an excellent opportunity for that. There are so many awesome aspects to being involved with a foreign exchange program, as these agencies strive to create positive relations between people from different cultures. 

Although rewarding, this decision also comes with many obstacles–conversing in a completely new language, leaving family for a year, and of course, coming to a country most have never visited before.  At Elkhart High School this year, there are a total of ten foreign exchange students who are anxious to experience what is it like to live in America. All come from various parts of the world and each stays with a host family who cares for him or her while here. 

Emma DePablo is one of the lucky ten. Her home country is Spain, specifically the city of Barcelona. She explains how she was matched with her host family. “When you fill out the papers the agency gives you,” DePablo begins, “you describe your hobbies and interests…and they match that with a family that is similar to you!” In this case, it was the Presswood family. Abi, their daughter, is a junior at this school. “They were very welcoming to me,” she states. “So far, they have treated me super nice!” DePablo expected nothing less out of this program, though. “My older sister went through the same agency and process when she was my age.” Thus, DePablo was excited to begin her own adventure.

Coming to an English-speaking country was not as frightening as one might think. “I was lucky, because in Spain I had initially attended a British school instead of a Spanish school, so that made me pretty fluent in English,” DePablo confides. “Of course there are differences, but I wasn’t super shocked.” In fact, coming to America itself wasn’t super shocking. “I’ve visited the U.S. before,” DePablo admits, “so that made me feel better about being here.” What DePablo worried about most, however, was how warmly she would be welcomed by the community. “I’ve noticed that people are a lot nicer here,” she states with relief. “Making the volleyball team and going to school with Abi has also made it easier for me to make new friends and meet new people.”

Despite the fact that Emma DePablo’s time here will eventually come to an end, she remains confident that the friendships she had made will last a lifetime.