Foreign exchange students thrive at BSM


Carolyn Mason

There are many students who come from all around the world and diversify the BSM community. Sophomore Ruochen (Jerry) Zhang (right) is a foreign exchange student from China who is currently staying with the Assistant Principal Seborn Yancy (left).

Ronan Brew, Staff Writer

The most important part of BSM is its students. Although the majority of the student body resides in the metro area, there are a few unique Red Knights who study here from abroad. These foreign exchange students are quickly becoming an integral part of the BSM community.

Becoming a foreign exchange student certainly isn’t easy. Oftentimes prospective students, like current sophomore Ruochen (Jerry) Zhang, leave it to agencies to accommodate for their educational desires. However, this means that students often have no idea where they are attending. “After my first stay in Oregon, my agency gave me and my teacher the decision between Florida, California, and Minnesota. It was a lot,” Zhang said.

So, the situation is often daunting, especially considering the culture shock involved with moving across the world. “The most difficult part for me was the language barrier. Earlier on I couldn’t respond to ‘what’s up,’ much less learn in school,” Zhang said. Going to school certainly isn’t a cake walk for anyone, especially considering the language used is foreign to exchange students.

Along with the glaring language differences, the two education systems differ in other ways. “In China we started at nine and ended at five. Although I slept more, in America we go from eight to three. It’s kinda relaxed,”  Zhang said.

For Zhang, coming to BSM was especially difficult. “BSM was much larger than any school I had ever attended. It was much different,” Zhang said.

That being said, the BSM community has offered a great environment for students arriving from another country. “I didn’t have a problem finding friends. I am thankful for that,” Zhang said. Without the proper environment, being an exchange student would be that much more difficult.

I came here for the academic opportunity and to learn in a new culture.

— Senior Haochen (Jerry) Song

Senior Haochen (Jerry) Song agreed that they both appreciated the friendly nature of BSM. “I had no trouble making friends here,” Song said.

Of course, without proper housing these exchange students could not make it in BSM. Not surprisingly, members of the BSM community reached out and housed the students in typical Red Knight fashion. “It was very welcoming. My hosts helped me out a ton,” said Song, who initially stayed with the family of a current senior.

In order to understand the benefits of becoming an exchange student, the rationale for students must be identified. Many students, like Zhang and Song, wanted a better and unique education. “I came here for the academic opportunity and to learn in a new culture,” Song said.

Although the language barrier sometimes limits the extent of foreign exchange students’ understanding on a topic, becoming a member of BSM has clearly made a resounding educational, social, and cultural impact on students like Zhang and Song. “Sometimes I don’t understand what’s going on in a class, but I always am taught very well and I am grateful for that,” Zhang said.

Along with difficulties like the language barrier, there are other distinct differences foreign exchange students experience in the States. One obvious culture class is the cuisine. “Yes, the food is very different here. I’m not sure if I like it or not yet, but we shall see,” Zhang said.

Foreign exchange students also have a unique perspective on another area of life: living with another family. Student Jerry Zhang’s situation in this regard is perhaps a little more unique, as he currently lives with the family of Assistant Principal Seborn Yancy. “I really like my host family. They have been very caring towards me,” Zhang said.