Foriegn Exchange Student Life


Being dropped into a strange, exotic country would be nearly unimaginable, yet Greenwood has two students this year who volunteered to leave their home to attend GHS.

Each year, schools across the country receive foreign exchange students looking to pursue an education in the U.S. who are expected to make new friends, keep good grades in a different school, live with complete strangers, and adapt to an alien lifestyle.

This year, GHS has two exchange students of its own: junior Maria Bellapart from Spain, and sophomore Jens Hvid from Denmark.

“The main reason I wanted to come to America was videos of exchange students telling about their wonderful experiences and how much fun they had in the States,” Bellapart said.

Hvid also wanted to experience what he had heard the U.S. had to offer.

“I mainly wanted to come to America just to try new things. I love my life in Denmark, but I wanted to see how other countries live, and I decided America would be the best place to visit and finish my last year of school,” Hvid said.

When traveling anywhere, many people experience stress and anxiety, especially when traveling to a whole new country, and this was no different for Hvid. However, he quickly realized there was nothing to be nervous about. 

“When I first got here, I was kind of scared because I didn’t know what to expect. But once I settled in with my host family and started making friends at Greenwood, I became excited and happy to be here,” Hvid said.

Bellapart, however, was the opposite. She was amazed at everything America had to offer and how different it was from her home in Spain.

“When I first came to the U.S., it was like being in a movie. Everything is so big compared to where I live, like the roads and the high schools, and the lifestyle is like the ones you see in movies,” Bellapart said.

When traveling somewhere new, there are always going to be good experiences and bad experiences.

“One thing I like about America is the huge importance they give to sports. What I don’t like about it is the food because everything is very unhealthy,” Bellapart said.

Hvid also had thoughts on what he has enjoyed and what he has disliked about his time in the U.S.

“I’ve really enjoyed playing football for Greenwood and all the friends I’ve made on the team and in my classes. But, I do sometimes miss my friends and family back home,” Hvid said.

Because they are here for a limited time, both want to make the best of their time in America.

“Me and my host family visited Disney World in Orlando a couple weeks ago, which was very fun. I have also talked about going to Kings Island with some of my friends soon,” Hvid said.

Bellapart also has some exciting plans.

“While I’m here, we have some trips planned with my host family to New York, Chicago, and some other places. I’m most excited to go to New York because it’s so iconic,” Bellapart said.

If a GHS student is interested in becoming a foreign exchange student, Mrs. Lisa Laug, guidance director, explained what to do.

“If a student here wanted to be a foreign exchange student, they would have to research foreign exchange companies and find the best one for them. Once they found a company, they would apply, and the company would do all the research to find the student’s hobbies, what they’re wanting to do, and how well they can speak the language of wherever they want to visit,” Mrs. Laug said.