Foreign exchange student comes to America during global pandemic

Learning+in+a+whole+new+world+%5C%5C+Watching+a+video%2C+senior+Leal+Balkis+learns+about+photo+collages+in+her+Photography+II+class.+Balkis+is+a+foreign+exchange+student+and+is+experiencing+her+first+year+of+American+high+school.

photo credit: Cali Scott

Learning in a whole new world \\ Watching a video, senior Leal Balkis learns about photo collages in her Photography II class. Balkis is a foreign exchange student and is experiencing her first year of American high school.

writer: Cali Scott, journalism student

While previous exchange students get to go to their first football game, she heard about the games the next day at school.

Instead of going to her first choir concert, she filmed one virtually.

While she wanted a normal school year in America, senior Leal Balkis, a foreign exchange student from Germany, experienced a restricted year from COVID-19 the coronavirus. 

All foreign exchange students look forward to the American traditions, but COVID-19 got in the way of most of them for Balkis. 

“There are some things I had imagined differently. For example, going to a homecoming dance, going with friends to football games, and having in-person choir concerts,” Balkis said. 

Even with the restrictions, her friends tried to give her the best American experiences. 

“I took her to do common things and taught her traditions that we have here in America,” Carissa Scott said. “We couldn’t watch football games or go to our homecoming dance, and I feel bad because she always talks about how she wanted to watch them.”

However, there is still time for Balkis to get to experience more American culture because she plans to go to college here next fall at the University of Tampa.

“I actually like it so much in the U.S. that I already applied to universities in the U.S., and I even already got accepted to one that I really like,” Balkis said.