Our latest student, Catalina de los Angeles Aliste Gonzales, joined us in January (she has a fantastically long name, right?). Catalina is a Rotary exchange student from Santiago, Chile, and now is a senior at Thomas Worthington High School.
How is going to school at TWHS different than going to school in Santiago?
At TWHS: The schedule is faster. It is always the same classes each day. The school day is shorter. All the students have different schedules. The sports are way more important here. In Chile, the school classrooms open into the outdoors, not into hallways. The students stay in the same classroom and the teachers change rooms. The school day goes from 8:00 am to 4:15 pm. There are just soccer and a couple of other sports and the teams only practice and do not compete against other schools.
What was the most difficult thing to adjust to here?
Making decisions on my own is the biggest thing. And having two different worlds -- all my family and friends in Chile and having a new life here.
How has the exchange been different than what you imagined?
I didn't expect all that cold weather. That was a surprise. We don't have snow on the ground in Santiago. I thought the American students would be friendlier. In my country, if you say you are from another country, they will come to you and say hello and ask questions. In America, I think the students are used to it.
What are some fun American activities you have done?
Traveling. I have been to Washington, DC, Seattle, Disney World in Orlando, Chicago, New York, Boston and West Palm Beach. I have been sledding and skiing -- that was fun -- and playing lacrosse is fun, too. And I went to OSU Buckeye football and basketball games.
What are your favorite American foods?
Carrot cake, chili (but not spicy,) soups.
What foods, places, and people do you miss from home?
I miss my family. I miss all my mom's food -- empanadas, beans, humitas, and pastel de papa. I miss summer and my family's beach house. While it was snowing here, it was summer in Santiago. I miss the public transportation. And I miss my dog, Woky.
If there is one thing you could tell people about your country, what would it be?
It is pronounced Chee-lay. Not Chilly.
Would you recommend hosting and/or being an exchange student? Why or why not?
Yes, both. I have both experiences. It helps you see the world differently and be more tolerant and open-minded. You realize that everybody is different and different isn't bad, it's just different.