Exchange students adjusting to life at B-A


Malia Danish

Paul Lemaire and Jun Park are two exchange students at Bellwood-Antis this school year.

Julie Bauer, Staff Writer

Exchange student Paul Lemaire can thank his mother for his desire to travel abroad.

“My mother did the same thing as me when she was young. She went to Australia, and now she is fluent in English,” he said. “And thanks to this she became a flight attendant.”

Paul is one of two exchange students at Bellwood-Antis High School for the 2017-2018 school year. The other is Lejun Park from South Korea.

Lejun, commonly known among teachers and students as Jun, will be staying in the United States until June 2018. He said that the United States is “very different” from his home country because it is more fun. According to Jun, South Korean schools are more about gaining knowledge and less about making friends and recreation.

He is in ninth grade. His favorite teacher is Mr. Jon Goodman and his favorite class is Home Economics. Jun said that it is not hard to adjust and he would recommend studying abroad to other students.

Jun would like to finish high school here and then attend college at Penn State. The top three colleges in South Korea, said Jun, are even harder to get into than Harvard.

Discovering a new language, new people, and a new culture is very rewarding. ”

— Paul Lemaire

Paul Lemaire arrived in the United States on August 31, and will be staying for the school year. Paul is here with the help of the ASSE, an international student exchange program. His home country is France.

“I didn’t have the choice of my destination. My host family chose me!” said Paul, when asked why he came to Bellwood. “So going to Bellwood was not my decision, but I’m very happy to study here.”

He said that France and the United States are only in part similar. “The culture in the USA is a little bit different than France—we don’t really eat the same things,” Paul explained.

Bellwood-Antis appears to be more different than similar to school in France. Art and music are not taught in French high schools. Students at Paul’s old school do not choose their subjects and are always with the same class. The school day can last as late as 6 p.m., and juniors and seniors must come in to school on some Saturday mornings. The school days start around the same time and the subjects are mostly the same, however.

Unlike Jun, Paul sees some difficulty in adjusting to life in Bellwood. Despite this, he likes it here.

“All the students are very friendly. The building is also beautiful. The teachers are good and nice!” he said.

Paul’s favorite class is gym, but he also finds American history to be interesting. He does not have a favorite teacher because he has found them all to be likeable.

His main goal, similar to his mother’s, is to learn English and a new culture.

Like Jun, Paul would recommend studying abroad.

“Studying abroad is very important for me. Discovering a new language, new people, and a new culture is very rewarding. For the (education) of course but also for the life, living abroad is an incredible experience.”