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|Bathroom passes aside, AFS students excel at DHS|
|Tuesday, 09 June 2009 16:20|
It can be a scary experience, coming to a new country where you donâ€™t speak the language and the culture seems unfamiliar. Especially for the students of the American Field Service exchange program, who have to wrestle with all the trials of high school life on top of the culture differences. But what really confounded the newest additions to Duxbury High School? Bathroom passes.
â€œYou more or less come and go as you want,â€ said Catrine Sigstadsto of her home country, Norway. In fact, her only knowledge of such things came from watching movies about American schools.
â€œEverybody thought it was a big joke,â€ she said.
Bathroom passes aside, the three students, Sigstadsto, Bernardo Neves from Brazil, and Vanessa Wirzberger from Germany, have adjusted well to life in Duxbury. Theyâ€™ve participated in all aspects of DHS life â€“â€“ Neves was on the swimming team, Sigstadsto was a student aide and Wirzberger traveled to Disney with the DHS band â€“â€“ and all three walked with their classmates in the graduation ceremonies on Saturday. All three have picked up English extremely well. However, when youâ€™ve grown up watching American teenagers in movies and TV shows, itâ€™s hard to come across the pond without some preconceived notions.
â€œThe cheerleaders arenâ€™t as popular as I thought,â€ joked Wirzberger.
It was the first extended stay in America for all three students, who admitted that getting used to their new families and surroundings wasnâ€™t easy.
â€œSpeaking English 24 hours a day was pretty tiring,â€ Neves said.
But they soon learned to love their new home. Neves said he was impressed by â€œthe respect people have for each otherâ€ in Duxbury. Wirzberger marveled at the school spirit at DHS.
â€œItâ€™s this little cute, kind community,â€ said Sigstadsto.
Although many of the day-to-day aspects of school life are similar, all three exchange students said students at DHS enjoy more academic freedom.
â€œIn Germany, you donâ€™t get to choose what classes you want to go to,â€ said Wirzberger.
â€œYou have everything together in one school,â€ added Sigstadsto. â€œIn Norway, if you want to do art you have to go to an art school.â€
It was tough for the students to single out a particular favorite memory from the year.
â€œThe whole thing,â€ said Neves, laughing. â€œIâ€™m a simple guy.â€
But all agreed the experience had a profound impact on their lives.
â€œI think the whole year just changed me,â€ said Wirzberger.
â€œIâ€™m never going to take family and friends for granted again,â€ said Sigstadsto.
Duxbury has a long tradition of hosting AFS students. The first exchange student came to Duxbury in 1969, and the local AFS chapter is active to this day.