A Peek Inside the Exchange Student Life
Keily Brown
Thursday, December 12, 2019

Isabel Kollen is a junior at Howe high school and a foreign exchange student from The Netherlands. When asked what made her decide she wanted to be a foreign exchange student in America she responds, “I traveled a lot around the world with my family and that made me curious about other cultures. I’ve always been obsessed with American movies (especially the high school movies) and that is one of the main reasons why I made that decision, my dream always was to visit America but when I found out there was a possibility for me to live in America and go to school, I was sold right away.”

I can’t begin to imagine how it feels on the days leading up to leaving your home and comfort place for more than 10 months, so when asked how those days leading up to her leaving and how she felt Isabel replies, “The days before I left were the worst, saying goodbye to everyone and everything I care about was the hardest thing I ever did. I never thought about canceling this year, but in the last days, before I left I started to wonder why I even began this adventure. I was really sad and stressed and upset during the last days. It was just a really hard time for me.”

Schools in other countries to Americans have always seemed smarter and stronger and I wanted to completely find out the difference between school in The Netherlands and school in America, Isabel says in her country they don’t have an elementary school, middle school, and high school, they just have elementary school and highs school, elementary is eight years long and high school is six years and it doesn’t necessarily have to be six years because in your seventh year of elementary school two years before you go to high school you take a test and in your last year of elementary school the eighth year you take another test and in these tests there will be scores and if you have a really high school you’re going to a school that will prepare you to go to a university, if you are average you will be going to a school that will get you ready for the average common jobs, and if you are not very book smart you will go to a school that will pay most of their attention on working with your hands and studying everything you need for that. The lowest level is four years of high school the average is five years of high school, and the highest level is six years of high school. “So it’s very very different because here you have everyone together and all your classes together.” Also in her country, you switch and classes you walk from class to class every day and they don’t have a set schedule every day, they have different classes every day they don’t have a sub to take over the class if the teacher isn’t there. There are different subjects every single day only juniors have classes with juniors and the same for the rest, you stay with your grade, you would never see them mixed together. Here in America if you want to play a sport you can just apply for that place, if you want to play a sport in the Netherlands you have to go to a sports club outside of the school, they pay no attention to sports they’re all about learning. Isabel says “I think here in America everyone has a lot of respect for the teachers it’s like a friendship relationship with your teacher, in my country back home it’s not that way, sometimes students here call teachers by their first name and that would never happen back home the teacher is higher than you and if you don’t have respect you will be sent to the principal’s office and you will be in trouble.”

--Keily Brown