The stories posted below are written by international students from different grades. These stories talk about experiences of culture shock, impressions they had of the U.S., and the transition from living at home to living in a new place. I hope you’ll enjoy reading them.

XL, Please!
By a senior (12th grader)

external image ux9s6x-gqQKqZbDkLRMQBnfrxZ48l5QE.jpgBefore I came to the U.S for school, I pictured that everything in the U.S was extra large. In my imagination, everyone was overweight, meals were big, and clothes were huge. I even thought I could only fit in kids' shirts and underwear. But that was only my imagination.

When I first came to NWS, I was shocked by the size of the school; one single building with only three floors? And there were fewer than 500 students in total? Before I saw the building, I thought I would have to run between classes so that I could get to the next class on time. I was wrong. Then I stepped into the dormitory, and met my little 15 year-old roommate. We met upstairs to find our room. Oh my god! The room was so tiny that I could reach the two ends within three big steps. I didn’t have a choice; I could only bear with it. I even teased myself, “I was wrong about the XXL image of America.”

Surprisingly, things worked out very well. Being in a small school helped me to know almost everyone in school and build close relationships with the teachers. Small class sizes gave me the opportunity to express myself in class. In the little dormitory, in the tiny bedrooms, I built my deepest friendship with my roommate and dorm-mates. Although my impression was wrong, I was glad that it was wrong.

Changes and Adapting
By a senior (12th grader)

I cried my heart out when I left my parents for the United States. I did. It was hard for me to think that I would not see them everyday for such a long time. I was used to the life with my parents’ help and support. Coming here was a big chance, a big step I made.

For a girl who had been in an all girls’ school for her whole life, studying in a co-ed school was thrilling. Everything was a challenge: daily life, schoolwork, friends, food, and the environment. However, I got through the hard time within a little bit less than a month. For that, I say thank you to my friends and my host family, including my natural family, who were all supporting me.

A lot of people might think or expect America and Americans to be what they see in movies, TV shows, or some other kinds of medias, but they are not. I have to admit it, after watching the movie “Mean Girls,” I was worried sick about whether I would make any friends in the United States. You need to experience it yourself in order to know and learn what is real or what to believe in. I made a lot of friends. I did blend in.

Every country has different cultures. I, a girl from Thailand, had limited experience with the American culture. All I knew was from reading books and watching movies, so culture shock did slightly affect me. For example, when I first got picked up by my host family, they hugged me. That is the
difference. Thais only hug when they know each other very well, but that was the only culture shock I found.

After living in the United States for some time, things just fitted to place. Things that once surprised me became what I am familiar with today.

By a senior (12th grader)

external image vlJjSMo9-r1_vAGA5V8oV3XipI85R9-V.jpgI still remember that three years ago, when I first came to the U.S., everything was new to me. First up, at the airport, I tried to look for my host mom. When I met her, she immediately asked, “Do you want to use the bathroom?” Since I was taught the word “toilet” instead of “bathroom”, I was confused by what she was asking. I thought bathroom meant shower room, and I replied, “I forgot to bring shampoo and soap!” Although it sounds stupid now, culture shock was everywhere when I first got to this new place.

My Sensitivity When I Arrived at the Wu Xi Airport
By a junior (11th grader)

When I got off the plane from Seattle to Wu Xi, I breathed deeply and smiled. The air smelled so wonderful. The announcements at the airport were in Chinese. It felt so familiar and comfortable. Chinese is my first language. I didn’t need to worry about not understanding the announcements that carry important information. I continued to walk quickly along the road so that I could meet my family as soon as possible. On my way walking to the arrival hall, many people around me were talking. Some of them were students, some of them were couples. I think it is the Chinese’s characteristic that they are very friendly and talkative. Even though it was very noisy and crowded, the feeling of being back home was nice. When I passed the customs inspection, I took my luggage and went outside. I saw my family immediately. My mother gave me a bear hug.

“Darling, I miss you so much,” said my mom sentimentally.
“Me too,” I replied with excitement.

I smelt my mother’ hair, it was fragrant. Then I saw some of her hair had turned grey. I knew that she missed me very much and worked very hard. I knew my mother was very inconsistent. She wanted me to accept a good education and she also worried about my new life in the US. I was very sad and moved. I even wanted to cry, but I tried my best to smile. I didn’t want my mother to worry about me. Then the smiling face of my younger sister came into my sight. I saw my sister had become more beautiful and I saw my parent had gotten older. Not until I was separated from them did I know how much I love my family.

Gotta Be Respectful to the Elder Back in Korea
By a junior (11th grader)

external image qaXFAy3PhaQr4dGg8-NiwkvuwY8ZHbC3.jpgWhile we were sitting there in the park, one guy threw away his cigarette butt in the lake. Obviously, it would contaminate this beautiful and shiny lake.
The colorful goldfish would continue to die because of it. I asked him, “Hey! What are you doing? Why did you do that?”

“What? How old are you?” the guy said.
“I think I am younger than you,” I said.
“Ha! Then just stay quiet. It’s none of your business. I think you are really rude!”
“What? Hey, think about the goldfish! Are you going to be happy if I throw a cigarette butt at you?”

He reviled me, and he tried to hit me. I couldn’t understand why he was angry like a mad dog. My friend persuaded him and me to clam down. I was
really angry, so I just left that place. Later, my friends asked me,

“Hey! Why did you do that?”
“What? What did I do?”
“You shouldn’t do that. He is older than you!!”
“What? He was wrong. I didn’t do anything wrong!”
“This is Korea. Even though he was wrong, you shouldn’t blame him.”

I think this happened of because of the culture difference. In America, I can say anything and give advice even if I’m younger than the other person. I am used to this culture, and I forgot about Korean culture. I could experience the culture difference because of this. It threw me into deep and dark confusion.

My Lovely Day Visiting My Old School
By a freshman (9th grader)

Over the Christmas break, I went back to Taipei and visited my old school. Everything in the school looked familiar. I attended classes with my old classmates. We walked around the school until school was over. Everyone was so kind to me. I could easily understand what they said because it was my own language!

When I talked to my friends back home, I found that they were very busy with their studies because they are going to have a big exam for high school in this coming May. I would have originally taken this exam with them if I had not come to the U.S. I soon realized that I was so lucky. The education in Taiwan was so different. We only learned and tested everyday. This is a really big difference between the education system of Taiwan and of the U.S.
The wonderful memory was so sweet that I will never forgot it. I hope our friendship will last forever.

Avoiding Homesickness