What is it like being an exchange student?

Let’s get to know three exchange students attending Wilsonville High school


Tate Edmondson

Santi (left) and Isabel (right) pose for a picture at lunch.

Luggage’s have been packed, airlines booked, and host families arranged. Six high school students from across the globe took a leap of bravery to spend a year in the United States. 

Three of the exchange students attending Wilsonville High School answered a series of questions about their experience. Let’s meet them and take a look at their responses. 

 All the way from Finland is Veera Valtonen. Veera has been making a list of similarities and differences between the U.S and Finland. She says:

“The food culture is definitely very different. We don’t really have a snack culture in Finland and we cook our meals every day and hardly ever eat out.” Veera also explained that in Finland, schools offer free cooked meals for lunch. 

Santiago Peacock, a Junior from Argentina responded: “All things in the U.S are bigger. The cars, the school, etc. Here you have so many options for everything, such as the subjects in school, food, places to go.”

, Our school system in Switzerland is completely different! We can’t choose any classes. Also we don’t have any activities like clubs and sports at school.


Isabel Marquez Flores, a student from Mexico told me “Similarities would be that we kind of have the same social etiquette rules. A difference is in Mexico the houses are closer together and a lot of them are painted in different colors, like more colorful.”

Santi (left) and Isabel (right) pose for a picture at lunch

Students reflected on their favorite experiences in the United States. Veera said, “Performing at football games and hanging out with friends.” 

Santi replied: “I think my favorite experience since I’ve been here is getting to know my host family, making friends, going to school and one trip I made with AFS to the Dalles. I met a lot of people from different parts of the world.”

Isabel responded: “Driving around with friends is really fun. In Mexico most teenagers don’t have a car.”

While being in the U.S the exchange students have had the opportunity to connect with each other. 

Veera said (or other verb) “It’s been such a big help and so much fun. It is really great to have people that are experiencing the same thing as you are.”

Santi said: “Meeting other exchange students in school has been amazing because I have people who are in the same situation as me and we can share our experiences while we are here.” 

Isabel replied: “It’s been really nice. I connect with them in a way I do not connect with a lot of people just because we are living the same experience. I’ve had a lot of fun meeting such a diverse group of people.”

Exchange programs provide wonderful experiences for the students and for the people who meet them on their journey.