Foreign exchange students experience first day of school at Byron High School

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BYRON (WJRT) - (08/22/19) - We all have had first day of school jitters, but imagine how you'd feel if your first day of school was thousands of miles away from home.

ABC12 talked to five foreign exchange students from different parts of Europe about their experience and expectations as new students of Byron Area High School in Shiawassee County.

"We're really appreciative, too, because we're a small community, and this really brings a little piece of the world to us," Principal Mark Dobson said. "That's really important."

The students getting to participate in this year's foreign exchange program include: Trine (Denmark), Nora (Norway), Alessio (Germany), Martina (Itlay) and Sesilia (Italy).

"First I was like 'What am I doing' and when you start to get to know people, it gets better,'" Trine said.

"I'll learn about the culture here and perfect my English because it's not that good," Alessio said.

They all want to learn about American culture, improve their English, play school sports and travel. Alessio likes math and soccer. Sesilia joined the cheerleading squad. It's an extra curricular activity that she doesn't have back home.

"I like it but it's completely different. It's like another world. Everything is bigger," Sesilia said.

The students have to get used to everything from the food to cultural customs like Friday night football! That's something Nora is looking forward to. Thankfully, they all have welcoming host families in the Byron area to help them along the way.

"It's very good. They take me out and stuff, and it's very fun," Nora said.

Trine has already gotten involved by doing cross country and visiting Niagara Falls with her host family. Nora has visited New York and traveled to the sand dunes with her host family. They have plans to travel more.

As for getting homesick, the teenagers say it hasn't happened, yet. Martina says she will hold on to advice from her parents.

"'Don't be shy. Talk to everyone. Improve your English,'" Martina said.

Along with learning about American life, they're giving something back to their peers and host families. Nora has become fast friends with host family member and Byron classmate Mya Foster.

"Definitely the friendships and the memories," Mya said. "When she got here she brought us Norwegian chocolate and stuff like that, so it's fun to see that kind of stuff."

Principal Dobson says anyone interested in the foreign exchange program at Byron can simply contact the high school to learn more.

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