Clintonville’s exchange students
They enjoy small town atmosphere
By Bert Lehman
Students at Clintonville High School once again get to experience new cultures, as several foreign exchange students are attending school in the district this school year.
It marks the second year in a row that more than five exchange students are attending school in Clintonville.
Imma Albinana, Spain
Imma Albinana said learning to speak English better was one of the main reasons she wanted to become an exchange student.
“In Spain we give a lot of importance to speak English and I think when I come back to Spain it will be easier to be in the university and find a job,” she said.
When she found out she was coming to Clintonville she said she searched online for her host family’s house and found that is was in the “middle of nowhere.”
“I like it, but I need a car always to get somewhere,” Albinana said.
She said in Spain she had a five minute walk to school. In Clintonville she has a 20 minute car ride to school.
Being able to choose her classes is something she enjoyed.
She said she is willing to try new things while in the United States.
Michela Dreossi, Italy
Michela Dreossi said she wanted to be an exchange student because she wanted to learn a new language and improve her English.
“Every day here can be a surprise,” she said.
She said she was surprised by how small Clintonville is. She comes from a city in Italy that has a population of 15,000, but she said she lives only one hour from Venice, Italy.
Schools in Italy are stricter she said.
Shortly after arriving in the United States, her host family, which she said is very nice, took her to a NASCAR race in Michigan. She said she had never been to a race before, but she had fun.
She hopes to do some traveling while in the United States.
Marius Gessner, Norway
Marius Gessner was born in Germany and eventually moved to Norway.
“I wanted to learn another culture and I think the American culture is very interesting,” Gessner said about why he wanted to become an exchange student.
When hearing he was coming to Clintonville, he said he was surprised because he thought Wisconsin was all farming. His host family lives on a farm.
“It’s very fun. It was over my expectations,” Gessner said.
He said he lives in the capital of Norway, which he said has a population of around 1 million people. He likes the fact everybody knows everybody in Clintonville.
Regarding school, he said Clintonville High School is stricter than where he went to school in Norway. To leave class, students need to get a pass.
“In Norway, it’s like you go out of class and you come back whenever you want,” he said.
Outside of school, Gessner said he is enjoying watching Green Bay Packers games each weekend. He added that he’d like to tour Lambeau Field while in the United States.
Momo Honda, Japan
Momo Honda said she wanted to be an exchange student because of experiences of other exchange students.
“There were lots of people who went to other countries to study and they had a great time,” she said. “I didn’t want to keep on doing the same thing in Japan.”
Not only did she do a Google search of Clintonville when she found out she’d be staying in Clintonville, she also found her host family’s house on Google Maps.
“It was the only house, and the next house is really far away,” Honda said. “It was unbelievable.”
She said the buildings in Japan are very close to each other.
The school in Clintonville is bigger than the school in Japan, which caused her some fear of getting lost.
“Everyone is mostly friendlier than in Japan and more relaxed. I like it here,” she said.
Switching classrooms is new to her. At her school in Japan, she said teachers switch classrooms, while students stayed in the same room throughout the day.
While in the United States she said she wants to try as many foods as possible because Japan doesn’t have the same types of food.
“It’s different even if it’s American food, so I want to try as much as I want to,” Honda said.
Her favorite so far is Wisconsin cheese curds.
Aimaral Kaarmanova, Kyrgyzstan
Aimaral Kaarmanova said she wanted to be an exchange student in order to improve her English for when she applies at universities.
She said she was happy when she found out she was would be staying in Clintonville.
“My host family is very good, they always help me,” Kaarmanova said.
Coming from a city of 2 million people, she said she is enjoying the change of pace Clintonville provides.
School has also been different for her. She said her school in Kyrgyzstan doesn’t have study halls, and students aren’t allowed to pick their class subjects like they can in Clintonville.
“The first week was hard because I didn’t understand what the teachers said,” Kaarmanova said about the adjustment to attending school in Clintonville.
While in the United States she hopes to attend concerts with other teenagers.
Maksim Kim, Kyrgyzstan
Maksim Kim comes to Clintonville from Kyrgzstan, which is in central Asia.
Kim said his reason for becoming an exchange student is to meet new people.
He said he Googled Clintonville once he found out that was where he would be going. In his Google search he said he found out Wisconsin is known for farming, cows, and cheese.
He comes from a city in Kyrgyzstan that has a population of 2 million people, so coming to Clintonville was a big change. Despite the difference in population, Kim said he is enjoying life in a small city.
“School is good because everyone tries to help you, teachers are very helpful,” he said.
Vanessa Kohler, Germany
Vanessa Kohler said she wanted to become an exchange student because she wanted to do something different, learn better English, and learn about a new culture.
Coming from a city of 1.5 million people, Kohler said she was shocked by how small Clintonville is.
It hasn’t stopped her from enjoying her time in Clintonville.
“Everybody knows everybody. Everybody is friendly and say ‘Hi’ on the street, even if you don’t know them,” Kohler said.
Regarding school, she likes the fact that she was able to choose her classes in Clintonville.
“I took a lot of fun classes,” she said.
Since being in the United States, she has gone camping and visited Lake Superior. She said she wants to try horseback riding, and wants to eat plenty of ice cream. She said the ice cream in America doesn’t taste the same as the ice cream in Germany.
Anne Nguyen, Denmark
Looking to try something different, Anne Nguyen decided to take the exchange student path.
When asked what she did when she found out she was coming to Clintonville, she admitted at first she was a little disappointed.
“I was hoping for California, Florida or New York,” she said.
Since arriving in Clintonville she has found that Clintonville has grown on her and she enjoys being in Clintonville.
“I like that it is a small town,” she said. “There are so many trees, and so beautiful in nature.”
She comes from a city with a population of 200,000 people.
When comparing the high school in Clintonville with the school she attended it Denmark, she said they are different. She said in Denmark students attend different classes each day, and teachers change classrooms, not the students. She said Denmark schools also have longer breaks between classes. In Clintonville the breaks are only four minutes between classes.
Since arriving in Clintonville, Nguyen said she has gone camping, as well as shopping in Appleton.
She hopes to be able to visit Wisconsin’s surrounding states.
Mohmmad Solaiman, Philippines
There were two reasons Mohmmad Solaiman wanted to become an exchange student. First, he wanted to learn the culture of American Society. Second, he wanted to share the culture of the Philippines with American students.
“I was kind of shocked because it’s very unusual to me to see a community that has a very small population,” Solaiman said about hearing he was coming to Clintonville.
He comes from a city that has a population of 600,000.
“I’ve been adjusting well because my host mom is really nice and she always guides me very well,” he said.
He said he was also surprised by some of the class offerings in Clintonville, especially physical education and study hall. The school he attended in the Philippines didn’t have any study halls, and it had physical education only once a week.
“Here it’s every day,” Solaiman said.
Even though things are different than the Philippines, he said he is enjoying being in Clintonville. He is also looking forward to watching NBA basketball games, especially Cleveland Cavaliers games because Lebron James is his favorite player.
Thanutcha Tangmana, Thailand
Thanutcha Tangmana said her main reason for wanting to be a foreign exchange student is to improve her English, which she hopes will provide her a better job opportunity in the future.
Prior to coming to Clintonville Tangmana said she had never heard of Wisconsin.
Since arriving, she said she has found the people are nice and the teachers are helpful. She also liked being able to choose which classes to take.
“This school is so different than my country,” she said. “In my country I can’t pick the subject.”
Since arriving in the United States her host family has taken her fishing in Sturgeon Bay. She also attend Green Bay Packers Family Night.
“I love them now,” she said.
She has also gone camping and shopping, and admitted to acquiring a taste for cheese.
She said she looks forward to improving her English and making new friends.
Clara Van Vo, Denmark
When Clara Van Vo was asked why she wanted to be an exchange students she replied, “Because I’ve always wanted to be bicultural and I thought this was a good way to do it,” Van Vo said. “It wasn’t about coming to the U.S., it was about seeing the world and I thought it was a good way to start.”
She said she was “really” excited to find out she would be going to Clintonville. Prior to that, she didn’t know what country she would be an exchange student in, and finding out she was coming to Clintonville meant she was coming to the United States.
She lives in the capital of Denmark, so the size of Clintonville is an adjustment.
“I think it’s nice. Everybody knows everybody. You can’t get away with anything,” Van Vo said about Clintonville.
She said attending school in Clintonville is more stressful than attending school in Denmark.
“You are always running around. You are always going somewhere,” she said about school in Clintonville.
Since arriving in the United States she said she has gone camping, visited the Mall of America in Minnesota, and traveled to other places in Wisconsin.
She said she’d like to visit Niagara Falls and Chicago. She’d also like to go skiing.