“But if you walk the footsteps of a stranger, you’ll learn things you never knew— you never knew.”
– Colors of the Wind, Pocahontas
Hosting an exchange student isn’t an easy task as people might think. The student isn’t simply there to go to school and go home following the schedule you have dictated as convenient in your whole school life. Hosting an exchange student takes compromise and effort— especially the latter and in great amounts. Meeting & hosting Yvonne, the exchange student, created a whirlwind of experiences and realizations for me in amounts I never imagined would ever happen— more so in 10 days. Below are the top 10 lessons/experiences I learned/had during Yvonne’s 10-day stay.
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1. Finding a common ground is the key.
It should be noted that I’m usually quiet and avoiding when it comes to conversing. I have difficulty starting a conversation especially with new people. So conversing with Yvonne has always been a challenge for me— not because of the language difference, but rather my inability to start a conversation along with keeping it alive. My conversations with Yvonne were usually in intervals of dialogue and dead air. The only times this hadn’t occurred was when we found a common ground— food preferences and house rules.
2. Both sides have their share of guilt.
Each side has its share of guilt moments. This I have concluded after reading the letter I received from Yvonne on the night before she left. I had the privilege of receiving two— both filled with as much thought as the other. It’s normal for both sides have this pang of guilt when going through the exchange program process. For those being hosted, it’s the guilt that they may be disrupting the lives of their hosts too much. For the hosts, especially the student, it’s being unable to give full attention to the visitor because of school requirements and what not. It didn’t help when there was a test or quiz on each day.
3. Economics class will never be the same.
In just 10-days, Yvonne managed to make sir Vlad say the statement, “This girl is too smart for my class.” Well, it is relatively true as she was able to answer his questions with ease and zero hesitation. It should’ve been expected because she took Economics as a class in JC-1. Nevertheless, it left an impact in our class because she was able to halt Sir Vlad’s lesson beat with a simple question, “Is it nominal GNP or real GNP?”. The question threw sir Vlad off and Economics class has never been the same. She was so open during the discussion that she earned recitation points (which sir Vlad has no clue what to do with them).
4. Pictures are the best way to bond.
I don’t know how many pictures I’ve taken with Yvonne during her stay. I know a lot of them were group shots with the class or with other people, but vanity sure goes a long way. Pictures are memory keepers— mementos to remind one about the encounters he/she had. That’s the beauty of pictures and it’s becomes more beautiful when people become energetic about having their pictures taken. It’s through pictures you notice the little quirks of each person— each one has a certain pose or gesture that highlights themselves as such. With that, I noticed Yvonne’s most commonly used pose to be one with a ‘peace sign’. What becomes amazing is that she agreed to learn what a ‘jeje’ pose is— which I will not dare explain further.
5. Counting binary is amazing.
Computer Science isn’t an amazing class to introduce to someone who has an affinity for Math and Chemistry. It doesn’t help when the stream you are in deals with program coding as opposed to design coding (which is easier to relate to). So I could imagine how bored Yvonne was during that first Computer Science class. But Sir Alcarez made it worth while when he taught us how to count to 31 using one hand— a.k.a counting through binary. Dhom and I were amazed, which caught Yvonne’s interest— which resulted to me teaching her how it works. I think that was one of those days I managed to make myself ‘high’.
6. Thursdays are dead days.
Thursday was the day Yvonne had to spend in school twice: November 17 & 24, which coincidentally were her first and last days with Electron. The problem with Electron’s Thursday schedule is that it’s dead day. Double period STR, Health, Bio, PE, Physics and English. There’s not enough lessons to entertain Yvonne and exactly why it’s a dead day. That’s why I would constantly face the problem of entertaining Yvonne. Well, I don’t know if I actually did an okay job for Thursday’s dead day. I hope she didn’t mind the dead air too. Thursday is lazy day— exactly why it’s uneventful. Okay, except for Adam’s ‘harana’ to Angel during November 17’s English class.
7. Japanese Food and College Courses
This is as self-explanatory as it can get. Yvonne and I both favor Japanese Cuisine— leaning towards sashimi love for Yvonne and sushi love for me. Nevertheless, I found it a surprise when she told me she liked Japanese food. I never expected that the exchange student I’d get would like the same food as me. You know what’s more awesome? We have relatively the same threshold for sweetness (which is lower than most people).
As for college courses, she has a leaning towards Chemistry and Food Technology. What’s funny is that the courses I picked in UP and Ateneo have one of those in them. While I prefer to go into Environmental Studies more, I treat Chemistry and Food Science/Technology as important as Environmental studies. I was amused to find out the courses she would pick were the ones I favored. Coincidence much…
8. Mothers— relatively the same anywhere in the globe
Let me tell you, everyday, Yvonne and I would have brought up the topic about house rules and how our moms could be such ‘naggers’. Well, they nag ’cause they care about our well-being. It’s funny because I would think I was the only one going through the stress of nagging mothers— or mothers who are obsessive compulsive. We would laugh when we found out a rule here was a rule in her house back in Singapore. For example, no lying down on the bed with street clothes— do it in the sofa. We both know ours moms care; it’s just amusing that mothers can be so alike.
9. The Magic of Graphing Calculators
After experiencing the magic of graphing calculators, I really want one now. During the week of Yvonne’s stay, I’ve had a bunch of Math assignments that seemed to have this attraction towards graphing. I noticed Yvonne had a graphing calculator, but was too shy to ask if I could use it. Well, one day she walked into the room I was in and noticed that I was doing the Math assignment that had graphing. She took out her graphing calculator and showed to me how it worked. Just like magic, I saw the graph of the function— it evens allows you to find out its maximum and minimum. It’s incredible magic and something I wish I could’ve had during those times I was clueless on how a graph would look like. Pisay and its manual Math. <insert laugh>
10. Friends— no matter where on Earth
The first day Yvonne was gone, it felt weird. No kidding like right after Paskorus, it sunk in that she wasn’t around anymore. I’ve grown a tendency to look around to check her whereabouts, just to be reminded she had already left. I felt off during that day, but when I got home, I was able to check up on her through Facebook. I’m happy she replied to my message— we still talk to each other which I find truly amazing. I hope this continues on until I might be in Singapore wherein I might get to see her. haha.