Exchange students experience American culture in Bexley

Sophomore Alice Guitard (center) eats lunch with seniors Anna Hughes and Louis Berger. (Photo by Nik Robinson)

You’ve gotten off the plane in a new country with your backpack in hand. Your heart is racing as you realize the thrilling new adventure that awaits you: you are about to start school in a brand new country where you will have to meet new people and learn a new language. This is the life that Bexley’s exchange students are experiencing.

Senior Marsida Hajdarj is from Albania and is spending the 2021-22 school year at the high school.

Hajdarj described her first impression of America as a surreal experience. She explained that even walking down the street is still shocking and unbelievable to her.

“Everything was new,” she said. “When I came here for the first time I was like, ‘Am I in a movie or something?”’

Hajdarj was also shocked by the many differences she has noticed while living in America.

“There are a lot of houses here,” she said. “People don’t live in apartment buildings, which is really different from where I am from.”

She said another surprising observation of hers is the kindness of the people.

“The people here are too nice,” she said. “They say thank you and sorry for everything, which really surprised me.”

Sophomore Alice Guitard is from the city of Niort in the middle-west side of France.

She explained that when she first came to America, she originally just wanted to experience a new way of life but ended up discovering many cultural differences that surprised her.

Similar to Hajdarj, she said she found Americans to be very kind.

“The people are really different,” Guitard said. “I made a lot of friends very quickly because people are so welcoming.”

Guitard added that she found the American high school social experience to be very unique, with traditions far different from what she was used to.

“Football Friday Nights are so cool,” she said. “At first I didn’t really know what was going on.”

Hajdarj said that she is appreciative of her opportunity to experience life here, even for just a short amount of time.

“I don’t know if every teenager in Europe feels this way, or only in my country, but everyone really should have the opportunity to come here,” she said.