Lake Highlands Makes Foreign Exchange Students Feel At Home

By: Lauren Turner | Published: Nov 13, 2018 | Updated: August 21, 2019

This year, multiple foreign exchange students have joined us at Lake Highlands High School. After meeting a few of them and hearing their stories, The Fang decided a cultural comparison would be a perfect way to get additional information about their experiences in Lake Highlands.

Kay Brandt and Friendly Mark Andrino are only two of the exchange students that have joined us this year, and both of them were eager to share their experiences. Brandt is from Germany and Andrino is from the Philippines. When asked what stood out about Lake Highlands, Brandt commented on the size.

“Lake Highlands High School is gigantic for me… back in my German high school there were around 360 students, in only one building that included a small gym with two locker rooms, 12 classrooms, and one small cafe with around four or five tables, and 20 seats.”

Andrino felt the same way. 

“The school here is really big. In my [previous] school there were 700 plus students, from the seventh grade to the 12th grade.”

Both were also asked about a regular school day in their home countries and what it consisted of. Brandt gave a very detailed explanation. 

“Back at home, high school started always at 7:45 a.m. and ended at 1:30 p.m. The schedule was like: first period, breakfast, second period, third period, lunch, fourth period, fifth period. Once a week I also had a ‘long day.’ On this day, they added one more lunch (60 minutes) and one more period to the regular schedule after fifth period.”

Andrino also commented on the length of the day at his previous school.

“A regular school day in the Philippines starts at 7:20 in the morning and ends at 4:30 in the afternoon-so it’s really long.”

After asking Brandt about his previous classes, similarities between those and his current classes stood out.

“German, maths, English, politics, history, Geography, Biology, Physics, and Chemistry were required. Sports, religious education, musics (sic), arts, technology, choir, Alps cross-mountain biking – only at my school – were available to choose.”

Andrino also had required classes that resembled classes here.

“We don’t have the freedom to choose our classes… the basic subjects like English, math, science, and Filipino [were required]. We don’t have the chance to choose theatre, but here you have the freedom to choose things you like. We have electives but they’re technical and vocational… job based,” he said.

Uniforms were the next topic of our conversations, and both had vastly different answers.

“In Germany it is not normal to have uniforms at schools… everybody can wear what he or she wants to wear. So no dress code,” Brant commented.

However, Andrino had a very different experience. 

“Monday, Wednesday, Friday we needed to wear polo shirts – white polo shirts – and black pants. Tuesday and Thursday we needed to wear P.E. shirts and jogging pants.”

Next, Brandt and Andrino gave their opinion on the classes they’re currently in, classes they had previously taken at home, as well as additional features of Lake Highlands that they enjoyed. 

“I really enjoy the classes. My favorite class is Wranglers and also Yearbook,” Brandt stated. “I also like the students. It feels like all students are one team, and sometimes it feels like a big family.”

Andrino said that he really liked the electives offered here.

“The class that I most enjoyed [at home]… it would be science and oral communication. The classes that I love here are theatre, choir, and Biology,” he said.

Lastly, Brandt and Andrino stated what the biggest difference between their previous schools and LHHS were. Brandt commented on almost everything.

“The whole school is completely different! Schedules – how [many] periods, A, B, C lunch, students have to change rooms, not teachers. in Germany it’s the opposite, choice of lessons, behavior of students, size, equipment. All that and many more things are different,” he said.

Andrino had a similar take.

“First of all, the time. Second is… the school here, compared to my [old] school, is very advanced when it comes to technology. We didn’t have servers in the school… it was all manual,” he said. “My schooling here is super fun, but there are also challenges. But the challenges are like the highlight of my exchange year. Because of the challenges I have become more resilient when it comes to facing problems.”

After conducting these interviews, the cultural differences that The Fang predicted seemed even more pronounced than expected. Although the German, Filipino, and American school systems have their similarities, they also have many differences. However, despite these variations, Lake Highlands has been able to make these students feel welcome, and that is amazing… or as Andrino would say, “Super duper ultra mega!”

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