By Staff Writer Fedora Izuagbe
Graphics by Nick Fore
Being new to anything is hard. Whether it’s being new to a job, team, or subject, there are difficulties when you’re introduced to something for the first time. Starting school up again, most of the sophomores, juniors, and seniors are returning from last year. That’s not the case for everyone though. There may be some sophomores and upperclassmen who are starting their first year at Timberline. Other students that fall into that category include: students who have moved into the school district, transferred from another school, or have come from another country.
Timberline has a foreign exchange student program which gives the opportunity for teenagers from different continents and countries around the world the chance to experience America and what it has to offer. The foreign exchange student program at Timberline has been around for over 30 years. Each year we get a handful of students from a variety of countries. These countries have included Spain, Ukraine, Germany, and a lot of other places.
Coming to America from another country and going to school here is a lot different from being in one’s native home. “In Ukraine we have a system that you’re staying in one school for your whole education, from first grade to 11th grade. We only go until 11th grade.” said Ukranian foreign exchange student Sonya Maystrenko. The North Thurston Public Schools district has multiple elementary, middle, and high schools so this was a big change for Sonya. Along with having a different school system, Maystrenko also had to adjust to other things at Timberline as well, such as the language barrier. “You don’t know the language perfectly and sometimes you have trouble because you don’t know what is happening around you. It puts pressure on you because you don’t feel comfortable and you don’t feel connected to people.” Despite the struggles, Maystrenko seems to be enjoying Timberline. “I really like the system, each class I meet new people. I’m very happy here, I’m very happy to be here because I’m exploring American life.”
Foreign exchange students aren’t the only ones who are feeling the new school blues. Students who have moved from other states are also being affected by this such as Jason Pham. Pham moved from California a couple of years ago and didn’t know what to expect. “I didn’t really expect to fit in with Washington in general because, of course, when you move to a new state, there are many new experiences you have to get used to,” said Pham. Eventually, after living in Washington for a little while Pham changed his tune. “Over time it was quite remarkable how much I understood and learned from the people I met here in Washington. It feels great to be here.” Pham had high praises about transitioning into Timberline and is optimistic about his experience so far. “Timberline was probably one of the easiest schools for me to get used to because by walking in everything is set out based on what you have to do. It was super easy to understand and I think that’s what makes this school pretty great.”