Exchange Student Life


Katie Roady, Staff Editor

Learning new languages and cultures in class is fun, but it is often, for a student, difficult to imagine what the culture they are learning about is really like. Students from all around the world decide to take their learning experience a step further and embark on a journey to another country. These are exchange students, and RHS welcomes them as well.  One of these students is Manuel Rodríguez from Guatemala. Manuel came to experience American high school life and improve his English speaking skills. He says that when he first arrived in America, he was surprised to see Oregon’s forested landscape since Guatemala is rich in more jungle-like environments. Once he has completed his exchange year, he plans on studying medicine at a college in Guatemala and traveling in America and Europe to visit friends.

Manuel Rodríguez

Although exchange can be the best experience of a student’s life, it is equally as difficult, since the inevitable return home casts a shadow over the many great relationships made during the year. Farid Domínguez from Ecuador agrees and said that he will miss his exchange student friends, his counselor, and his host parents a lot. Another struggle exchange students encounter is the language barrier. Farid, with first-hand experience, said, “I’m bad at writing, and everyone has different accents and speeds. It’s hard to understand class because the teacher speaks so fast.” Although this barrier is certainly a challenge to overcome, it turns everyday into a learning experience.

Farid Domínguez

America is known for its diversity, making it possible for exchange students to blend in with the crowd, but this can in turn make it more difficult to make friends. Without the label of “exchange student,” other kids don’t have a reason to reach out. It would make an exchange student’s year much brighter if those around them took some time to get to know them or even become friends. By building a relationship with an exchange student, one can learn more about the world outside the American borders. This is the essence of cultural exchange.