Perspectives from across the Pond: An interview with Bellarmine’s foreign exchange students

Camila Aguayo

At the start of the 2022-2023 school year, Bellarmine welcomed a new wave of foreign exchange students. Ranging all the way from Guatemala to Japan, high school students have come from all over the world to spend time on The Hill.

Over the past couple of months, whether their first time in America or not, these international students have discovered new experiences, friends, and even new favorite foods! When interviewed about their time in Washington so far, European foreign exchange students Henri Lesaffre-Monceau (France), Maëlle Zallama (France), and Florian Schumacher (Germany) had a great deal to say.

Q: What has stood out about America so far? What do you not like?

A: “The people. Everyone is more kind and sociable; they’re not judgmental,” says Henri Lesaffre-Monceau. The French senior admitted that the stereotypes of ‘mean’ Europeans is not far from the truth, and he was impressed by the kindness he has been shown by people in the United States. Both Zallama and Schumacher were impressed by the variety of quick food options that were not available to them in France and Germany. Additionally, the two expressed their dissent toward having to rely on cars to get everywhere.

Q: How is the American high school experience different from that of France/Germany?

A: Lesaffre-Monceau reveals that, “classes, teachers, people, everything,”differs from high school in France. He also pointed out that he enjoys the emphasis on high school sports. Zallama expresses her gratitude for the A-B schedule and, “less hours in class,” which feels, “more relaxed.” Schumacher indicates that American high school is “way bigger” and he now has a different teacher for every class.

Q: What has been your most memorable experience in America so far?

A: “I discovered the experience of big cities like Seattle,” shares Lesaffre-Monceau.

Schumacher reminisced on his first high school football game and his first day at Bellarmine saying, “walking into Bellarmine the first days were very exciting.” Zallama expressed her love for going out and driving around with her friends.

While there are many more good times in store, Bellarmine’s foreign exchange students seem to already be living the American dream.

Photo courtesy of Freepix