Spanish student roams hallways

Samantha Thomas

After only a month, new Spanish exchange student has tackled school, soccer, and getting acquainted with a brand new country. Upon arriving in Minneapolis on August 5, Miguel Arenas prepared himself for the year to come in the U.S. and at BSM.

Arenas joined BSM this fall as a sophomore from Malaga, Spain. He is staying with the Miller-Poppe family, whom he is familiar with because senior Margaret Miller stayed with his family for a year in Spain.

Coming to a new school in a new country was a huge transition for Arenas. “When I first saw BSM in the summertime, I thought wow, it is huge compared to my private Catholic school in Malaga, “ said Arenas, “in my entire school in Malaga there are about 400 students, so BSM is much busier.”

At first, the language barrier proved to be Arena’s biggest challenge coming into the U.S. “I was a little nervous because although I have studied the English language for twelve years in Spain, using it is a different story,” said Arenas, “so the language difference is the scariest thing.”

Another huge difference for Arenas was the style of schooling here at BSM. “The main difference between this and my classes in Malaga is that in Spain I don’t switch classrooms every period, and the classes are a much longer time frame, “ said Arenas, “we also don’t eat lunch at school. And some of the classes I’m taking here aren’t offered at my school in Spain.”

The attempt to maintain good grades while learning completely different material than usual is difficult for Arenas. “In Ms. Roushar’s Biology class, I have to gather fifteen insects, and that is something I’ve never been asked to do in Spain,” said Arenas, “In my English class in Spain we learn grammar. Here, I am trying to read a science-fiction novel, in English of course. That is so difficult.”

Arenas tried out for boys’ soccer the week after he arrived, and made the sophomore team. He has found aspects of soccer that prove it is a universal sport. “Soccer here in the USA is basically the same,” said Arenas, “I find my teammates here at BSM to be great players, and I am having a lot of fun playing with them.”

Despite the similarities, Arenas saw many differences in the game between the USA and Spain. “I have been playing soccer in Malaga for seven years,” said Arenas, “I’ve noticed that the referees don’t officiate the games like they do in Spain. Also, In Spain, I usually play on a team with five-side, and here we play eleven players on the field at once.”

Miguel Arenas has gotten comfortable here at BSM but still has a lot more aspects of Minnesota to get acquainted with. “I like being here in Minneapolis,” said Arenas, “but I am wondering what it will be like when I start seeing snow and ice. That will be new for me.”