Foreign students move to US for new opportunities

September 24, 2010 — by Priyanka Nookala and Michelle Shu

Pulling her Audi convertible into the school parking lot, junior Mei Gao is ready to start the day. Struggling to hold her various textbooks, each as heavy as a brick, Gao looks and sounds like most other students on this Monday morning. Her English is polished, having a barely discernible accent that seems to diminish with each subsequent word she speaks. This is perhaps the only trace she has left of her native China, the country she left to pursue an education in the United States.

“Here I think I get to learn a broader range of things, ” said Gao, who moved to Saratoga before her freshman year. “It’s very good for independent thinking and skill building.”

Gao is one among many foreign students who have immigrated here. Although their reasons for coming differ, they all have one thing in common: After doing some research about their new home and neighborhood, they and their parents felt that Saratoga High provided the best environment and quality of education for them.

“We [my family] chose Saratoga because it had good ratings and there wasn’t much use of drugs,” said sophomore Sara Petterson, who came here from Sweden because of her father’s work. In her home country, Petterson had no choice in what classes she could take. Besides usual classes like math and science, she took sewing, cooking and woodshop at her old high school in Sweden. She believes that Saratoga High and her school in Sweden both taught the subjects well, but she found her old school significantly easier.

For sophomore Powell Huang, who moved here from Taiwan two years ago, the choice of schools was limited because of the location of his relatives. His parents sent him overseas alone to come live with his aunt in Saratoga.

“At first it was really hard to get along with my aunt and cousin, but overall, my living conditions are no different from other people’s,” said Huang. “I think the hardest part for me is that I worry about my parents’ health and I want to help out the family, but I’m a Pacific Ocean apart from them.”

Sophomore Justin Ra came here from South Korea with his family because his father had better job opportunities.

“I would not have come to America if it wasn’t for my father’s work,” said Ra. “I have a lot of family in Korea, and it cost a lot of money to come here.”

Unlike Ra, Gao had her mind set on an education here because, from a very young age, she aspired to go to college in America. Her parents came with her to support her in her new education.

“When I was in China I was already thinking of going to college in the United States. We decided that it would be better for me to go to high school here, and then go to college, ” Gao said.

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