By Kayla Smithgall
“You build a life for 16 years and leave it for 10 months. You build a life for 10 months and leave it forever. Which one is harder?” –Unknown
Every August, hundreds of students pile into SHS to begin the school year. Among all those frantic freshmen, social sophomores, jilted juniors and sluggish seniors, there are a few special students even more confused than everyone else.
Why are they confused? Well for one, English is not their native language. Sure, they most likely have been learning English since they were a toddler but standing in a hallway full of English-speaking Americans can be hard for anyone to understand.
The quote at the beginning of this article is exactly what these “special students” do. When chosen to be an exchange student, they have to say goodbye to their family for either six months or 10 months, fly all the way across the world and go to a school where they do not know a single person. I don’t know about you, but I would never be able to do that.
On my first day of school my freshman year, as I was walking to my P.E. class, a girl came up beside me and said “Hi!” with a big smile on her face. She said her name was Viktoria and she was a junior.
“As you can probably tell from my accent, I am an exchange student from Germany,” she said.
By the end of the class, we had decided to eat lunch together. From that day on, we ate lunch together every day and she soon became one of the greatest friends I would ever have.
That year, there were eight exchange students at SHS. They represented six countries: Poland, Germany, Ukraine, Russia, Australia and Spain. I had the opportunity to talk to six of them.
Last year, there were two exchange students; two girls from Norway and Czech Republic. I was able to get to know one of them. I even did the school color run with her.
And then there’s this year. I’ve met both the German boy and the Georgian girl that wandered the halls of SHS. I have also become friends with a girl from Thailand. But that Georgian, she’s truly one of a kind.
The first time I met Sevil was in our chemistry class. We were doing a lab to see who could throw a straw the farthest and believe it or not, she actually threw the straw the farthest.
A few days later, I invited her to eat lunch with my friends and me. She must have liked us, because she has eaten lunch with us every day since.
Sevil and I have dressed up together for spirit week, danced at Homecoming, dressed up as hobos for a party, gone to a college basketball game, decorated a locker, gone bowling and made cookies.
She is the nicest and sweetest person I have ever met. She’s the type of person you can be laughing with and five seconds later have a heart-to-heart conversation with. She has the kind of laugh that will make you laugh at anything, even if it’s the dumbest thing you’ve ever heard. That’s my favorite type of person to be around.
Even though there are a few times when we don’t understand what each other is trying to say, I wouldn’t trade the time I’ve spent with her for anything.
If you ever have the chance to get to know an exchange student, by all means take that chance because they could end up being your best friend.