Chinese foreign exchange students adapt to life in Marshfield
By Bailey Cichon
MARSHFIELD — Shortly before the school year began, 10 foreign exchange students came to Marshfield from Zhangjiagang, China. These students will be studying at Marshfield High School for a full school year to fully immerse themselves in American culture. “We have English classes starting at grade one,” said Iris Huang, age 17.
All of the foreign exchange students are from the same school in China.
Taylor Xu said, “(In order to travel to America) we had to prepare for the SAT and other exams.”
Explaining how she ended up going to school in Wisconsin, Huang said, “We have these normal classes and international classes. People who want to go abroad will automatically get put into international classes. Our school program has different (American) school options. We took a test, and I got put into Marshfield. It’s based on academic level.”
Overall, the experience has been pleasant for the students.
“I can get along with the people here,” said Huang, who has enjoyed her ceramics class.
“Our host family took us camping and water skiing,” added Joyce Zhuang and Xu. “It went very well.”
The main issue that the exchange students have faced is the language barrier.
“Sometimes I can understand what the teachers say, but sometimes I don’t know the homework,” said Zhuang.
Xu, who is staying with the same family as Zhuang, added, “Communication with the students (is difficult) because English is not our native language. It’s hard to understand their jokes.”
One of the hardest parts of being a foreign exchange student, according to Huang, is making mistakes. “We know that we say things wrong, but sometimes we don’t know we have made mistakes,” she said.
Zhuang, Xu, and Huang all are using American names while staying in the United States.
“Chinese is very difficult to say,” said Zhuang.
Xu added, “The teachers can’t say my name correctly because my name is so complicated.” Instead, they changed their first names to something more familiar to their American acquaintances.
“Joyce means happiness,” explained Zhuang. “I want to be happy.”
The exchange students will stay for the 2016-2017 school year. They are all seniors in high school and will receive a diploma in the spring just like any Marshfield student who passes the grade.