Culture Shock

Paradise Valley in the eyes of a foreign exchange student

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Foreign exchange students venture from one end of the Earth to the other.

Foreign exchange students venture from one end of the Earth to the other.

Foreign exchange students venture from one end of the Earth to the other.

Lauren Ruiz, Assistant Editor

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      Foreign exchange junior, Nadia Hofer, has joined Paradise Valley High School.  

      She “started in December [of 2015]” as a foreign exchange student where she moved, temporarily, from Switzerland to Arizona. The visiting student has since made many friends and currently plays on the badminton team.

      Coming from Switzerland, Nadia Hofer has had to deal with major culture shock. Notably, she mentions the “weather” and notes that “the culture is different …What I noticed here … the laws … for example, weapons”. According to BBC news, Switzerland has some of the lowest crime rates in the world and yet is one of the least restrictive when it comes to gun control.  Also, since the Swiss Confederation is set up so differently with presidents that are only in power for one year, she also mentions how different “the political system[is], like with the presidents”.  More relative to Paradise Valley students, “school is totally different”, she said.  “It’s very interesting to me with all this school spirit … I would say my old school didn’t have that … that you were really proud of your own school”, Nadia Hofer continued. As a new student, she said, “you know no one and you have to get along yourself and you’re getting stronger through this”.

      While the idea of students having the opportunity to cross oceans and experience another culture is alluring, the process is quite extensive.  First Nadia Hofer explains, “you have to find a company”.  Specifically, “my school supports this company”.  From there, it takes a “long time”, she said.  In this process, “you have to go through applications”  and “you have to check everything”.  She continued, “You have to get writings from your teachers, from your director”.  This is necessary “so that the company can check that you … won’t do anything wrong … have any health issues”, Nadia Hofer explains.  The location of the student is selected both by the company and by the host families who choose which student they would like.

      Since foreign exchange students are sent to different countries without their families, a host family is required to essentially be the student’s temporary family.  However, these families aren’t always compatible.  “I’m really glad that I get along with them really well because I heard of … other students … they had to change their host families the second day they were here…because they couldn’t get along”, Nadia Hofer remarks.  “It’s your family, you’re around them like the whole year”, she continued.

      Every school has its benefits and disadvantages.  For Nadia Hofer, “This school year doesn’t count for me”, so “I can … take it easy on school and I met many new people”, she stated.  As far as making friends at Paradise Valley, “It’s hard in the beginning … because you know exactly no one but … when you have people who are open and want to talk to you then you make friends easily”.  Nadia Hofer says, “The main reason why I did this whole exchanger was to get to know another culture”.  She added, “I think I will benefit from this year my whole life”.  On the other hand, she noticed, “It’s … really easy for me here” and “My school in Switzerland was more difficult so I learn more”.  

      Paradise Valley welcomes all foreign exchange students as they experience the culture of PV Pride and the environment of a different country.

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