The Official Student News Site of Parkway West High

Katie Wallace

Sam Placer-Frey

Home city: Galicia, Spain

Host Family: Sophomore Sienna Lorenz

Grade: 11

What inspired you to become a foreign exchange student?

“Both of my siblings have done [the foreign exchange program] already, and their experiences were extremely positive. They both had gone to the states, so I wanted to do that too.”

Did you get any say in where you studied?

“No, I just told them I wanted to go to the states and then they gave me [St. Louis].”

Is there any language barrier?

“No, my mother is from the states. She was born in California, and she taught me English.”

What has your transition been like?

“It’s been very overwhelming because it’s very different from Spain, especially school. The whole society is just, overall, very different. Everything is more centered around school here with all the activities and sports. In Spain, we don’t have any spirit, we don’t like our school. But here, you guys have a whole community and spirit for the school, which is good, and I enjoy that. So that’s very different. And there are a lot more things to do here with sports [or], for example, on Halloween, there was the trunk or treat, and before that, there was the parade and then the football games. [In Spain,] we don’t have anything like that. We go to school, we do our classes and come back. That’s it.” 

Sophomore Sienna Lorenz attends the Festival of Nations with her host brother, junior Sam Placer-Frey and friends. “Honestly, I’m still getting used to it, but I love having another person in the house. I’ve always wanted a brother so this was kind of our opportunity to get a brother. It’s been fun being able to participate in [the] events that they host for his exchange program [and] getting to know people from other countries as well and seeing their culture,” Lorenz said. “He’s never seen snow before. It was so funny. He was outside getting a snowball and chucking it at our house. So it was really cool to be able to see him see snow for the first time and get to experience that.” (Courtesy of Sienna Lorenz)

Have you ever been to America before now?

“Yes, to visit my grandparents. They live in California. The program doesn’t allow me to see them because I might be attached since I’ve seen them and won’t want to [go] back.”

Did you get any culture shock?

“Yeah, [there is] a lot of throwing-away, not being very environmentally [friendly]. Being very wasteful with stuff and throwing away food and lots of plastic. That was a very big shock. Also, there is a lot of air-conditioning.”

What has been your best experience here so far?

“Seeing all of the different cultural places. We went to the International Festival, it was really interesting seeing all the cultures and everyone that represented their culture. And seeing all the different food, clothing and stuff they were selling was something that I would never see in Spain because there’s so much more diversity here. [Also,] I went to an astronaut conference at the Space Center, which is something I definitely [would] not be able to see since I live in such a rural area. No important person would come to give a conference [in Spain] and so seeing someone who had gone to space was interesting for me. I went with Cecile, another exchange student, and her host parents.”

What has been your most difficult experience here so far?

“Getting used to school because it is very different. [In Spain] we stayed in class, and the teachers came to us. So, [it’s very different] having to change from class to class, with all different people, it’s very different.”

How does school here compare to school in your home country?

“It’s very different. There are a lot more students here. My [home] school is about half this size, maybe three times less. Our schools also go from seventh grade to 10th grade. The last two years aren’t obligatory but basically necessary if you want a higher-paying job.” 

Is there any specific aspect of home you miss?

“My family.”

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