Exchange student immerses herself into American life

May 31, 2018 — by Jessica Song

As finals come nearer, summer is within reach; however, sophomore Layla Lei doesn’t quite want the school year to end. The reason: She is about to leave the U.S.

Lei is an exchange student from Shenzhen, China. Her program, Youth for Understanding, allows her to live with a host family and study in a local school for one year.

When Lei came across this opportunity, she thought it will give her a fantastic experience, and it all started from there. So, on Aug. 31, 2017, after a long journey involving multiple transfers, she finally arrived in California.

However, fresh off the plane, Lei found herself facing a huge challenge — the language barrier.

For example, she did not know what the word “heels” means at the beginning. In China, the word was taught as “high-heel shoes,” thus leaving Lei confused.

“I often don’t understand abbreviations and oral terms,” Lei said. “But again, this is why I’m here, to learn things like these so that I can communicate normally with others.”

Due to developing skills of the language, Lei found herself being something of an outsider. When she was in China, she could talk to a classmate at random in the hallway, but that is not the situation now, Lei said.

“In China, it was easy for me to get along and have fun with classmates,” Lei said. “But when I came here I felt like I’m afraid to speak and sometimes speechless. I became more independent.”

Nevertheless, Lei is not afraid to fail. She continues to try academically and adjust herself in everyday life.

According to English teacher Carrie Bohls, Lei’s effort is “intense.”

“I even have this reading with her where she wanted to read Shakespeare dialogue with me, which was really cool,” Bohls said.

Yet, Lei not only surprised Bohls with academic effort but also with her personality.

Transfer students often struggle because all the friend groups are pretty well developed. However, Lei is actually “super outgoing,” Bohls said.

Part of Lei’s outgoing personality was shown by how many activities she is willing to engage in. “I think that is truly adapting to the American life,” Lei said.

This thought did not come from anywhere. In China, with eight periods every day and no choice of schedule, there is barely space for extracurriculars and interest development. In contrast, the schedule here, with a maximum of four classes in a day, gives incredible freedom for developing other interests.

“How students can choose the courses that fit their interests so that they can develop to their career at an early age, is a novel and benefiting privilege,” Lei said. “Another reason why I think the U.S. schedule is really cool is that it gives you a lot of free time to do things you like.”

To get more involved and make friends, Lei joined concert choir, handbell choir, and even did activities such as Lip-Dub. She saw joining extracurriculars as a big part of her life here, as she rarely gets chances to experience the same in China.

However, after nine months of life in America, the planned departure date is near.

“I’m kind of sad, yet my parents and most of my friends are in China, so I do want to go back too. ” Lei said. “However, I think my experiences here are not too bad and I wish I can continue high school here.”

 

Exchange student makes a journey into American life

by: Jessica Song

Word Count: 570

As finals come nearer, summer is within reach; however, sophomore Layla Lei doesn’t quite want the school year to end. The reason: She is about to leave the U.S.

Lei is an exchange student from Shenzhen, China. Her program, Youth for Understanding, allows her to live with a host family and study in a local school for one year.

When Lei came across this opportunity, she thought it will give her a fantastic experience, and it all started from there. So, on Aug. 31 2017, after a long journey involving multiple transfers, she finally arrived in California.

However, fresh off the plane, Lei found herself facing a huge challenge — the language barrier.

For example, she did not know what the word “heels” means at the beginning. In China, the word was taught as “high-heel shoes,” thus leaving Lei confused.

“I often don’t understand abbreviations and oral terms,” Lei said. “But again, this is why I’m here, to learn things like these so that I can communicate normally with others.”

Due to developing skills of the language, Lei found herself being something of an outsider. When she was in China, she could talk to a classmate at random in the hallway, but that is not the situation now, Lei said.

“In China, it was easy for me to get along and have fun with classmates,” Lei said. “But when I came here I felt like I’m afraid to speak and sometimes speechless. I became more independent.”

Nevertheless, Lei is not afraid to fail. She continues to try academically and adjust herself in everyday life.

According to English teacher Carrie Bohls, Lei’s effort is “intense.”

“I even have this reading with her where she wanted to read Shakespeare dialogue with me, which was really cool,” Bohls said.

Yet, Lei not only surprised Bohls with academic effort but also with her personality.

Transfer students often struggle because all the friend groups are pretty well developed. However, Lei is actually “super outgoing,” Bohls said.

Part of Lei’s outgoing personality was shown by how many activities she is willing to engage in. “I think that is truly adapting to the American life,” Lei said.

This thought did not come from anywhere. In China, with eight periods every day and no choice of schedule, there is barely space for extracurriculars and interest development. In contrast, the schedule here, with a maximum of four classes in a day, gives incredible freedom for developing other interests.

“How students can choose the courses that fit their interests so that they can develop to their career at an early age, is a novel and benefiting privilege,” Lei said. “Another reason why I think the U.S. schedule is really cool is that it gives you a lot of free time to do things you like.”

To get more involved and make friends, Lei joined concert choir, handbell choir, and even did activities such as Lip-Dub. She saw joining extracurriculars as a big part of her life here, as she rarely gets chances to experience the same in China.

However, after nine months of life in America, the planned departure date is near.

“I’m kind of sad, yet my parents and most of my friends are in China, so I do want to go back too. ” Lei said. “However, I think my experiences here are not too bad and I wish I can continue high school here.”

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