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St. Croix Central foreign exchange students enjoying new experiences

St. Croix Central High School foreign exchange students show off their school spirit in the high school gym during Homecoming week on Wednesday, Oct. 2. (Photo by Jordan Willi)

As the world has grown smaller, more and more students from outside of the United States are coming to America to experience what it is like to live, learn and play in another country. 

For five St. Croix Central High School foreign exchange students, the choice to come to America was an easy one and has not disappointed.

“First of all, I wanted to learn English, and I don’t think there is any better way to learn it than this,” said junior Fabio Pozzessere, of Como, Italy. “And also because I got to know people that did an exchange program and everybody told me it was a really good experience. Another reason is that we always see America in movies and I have always wanted to come here. I am looking forward to live as many experiences as I have the opportunity to live and to create nice bonds with the friends I have made here.”

Even though Pozzessere and his fellow exchange students Kamilla Alnes (Alesund, Norway), Agnethe Kjoele (Oslo, Norway), Vincent Sibut-Pinote (France) and Marcus Laursen (Roskilde, Denmark) have only been with their respective host families for a short time, they can not say enough about how wonderful their time in America has been.

“The family I have been staying with is really nice, and I don’t think I could have gotten to stay with a better family,” Sibut-Pinote said. “School is also pretty cool here. It is different from how things are in Europe, but in a good way. And sports are really fun, too. They are a good way to meet people.”

One big difference that all five students have found between their European schools and those in the United States is that high schools here have sports associated with schools, whereas sports in Europe are mostly played through clubs within a given town instead.

“At home, school is just a place you come to learn and when you are finished, you get your grades and go to university or college,” Kjoele said. “There also aren’t any sports in school. You play sports with clubs in town, but not through school.”

And for that reason, along with a few others, theEuropeans decided to take up a sport once they started school in the hopes of meeting new people and trying something they have never tried before.

“We do have volleyball in Norway, but I only played it for fun there,” Alnes said, who, along with Kjoele, plays on a volleyball team at the high school. “Playing volleyball here has made it easy to get to know people because you have to talk to people. I also wanted to try volleyball as a sport so it was an opportunity to try something new. And I’ve enjoyed it a lot.”

Both Sibut-Pinote and Laursen were drawn toward football upon arriving in America, and the pair have found success in the Panthers kicking game since the very first day of practice.

“I have watched a little bit of football and through my cousins, I knew a little about football, but still not enough to play defense or something like that,” Laursen said. “One of the reasons I chose to be a kicker was because the first day we came to practice I kicked a 50-yard field goal, and my family was impressed. From then on, they said I had to be a kicker. I am very satisfied with my choice.”

Like the other exchange students, Pozzesserre wanted to join a sports team to meet new people, but he also didn’t want to risk a significant injury that could get in the way of enjoying every minute of his time in the states.

“[Cross country] isn’t that common in Italy, but I am glad that I chose to join because I have found a good group of friends there,” Pozzessere said. “Plus, you feel pretty healthy after you run 5Ks every day for practice. The main reason I joined was because I didn’t want to get injured playing football since I only have one year to enjoy my time here. So I didn’t want to sit out with a broken arm even for a little while.”

Another big difference between schools in America and those in Europe is the way the school systems are set up. In most cases, the daily schedules at European schools are more like colleges in the United States, with certain subjects only being taught two or three times a week.

“There is a lot different in the schools from what I am used to, basically the whole school system,” Laursen said. “One of the things I like about school here is that you can get closer to your classmates than you do in Denmark because you see more and different people throughout the day.”

Outside of school, the exchange students haven’t experienced any really shocking difference with American culture, but there are some small things that are a little strange to the kids from across the pond.

“There isn’t anything really shockingly different about America,” Pozzessere said. “There are just little differences that can be the same difference you can see from northern to southern Italy. One thing that is a little different that I noticed on the first day was that you might drink milk for dinner here. That is something we could never do in Italy. We might drink water or pop, but never milk for lunch or dinner. Just for breakfast.”

The school year might only have just started, but all of the exchange students are looking forward to the winter months and getting to experience everything America has to offer.

“It has been fun to be here, and it is really nice to experience something different,” Kjoele said. “That is why we came here, to try something new and do different things that we are used to. I am looking forward to celebrating Christmas here, as well as Thanksgiving. Prom will also be fun since we don’t have that at our schools either.”

Jordan Willi
Jordan Willi is a reporter for the New Richmond News. Previously, he worked as a sports reporter at the Worthington Daily Globe in Worthington, Minnesota. He also interned at the Hudson Star Observer for two summers and contributed to the Bison Illustrated sports magazine at North Dakota State University.
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