Exchange students share their experience

Courtesy of PDS

Courtesy of PDS

Hannah Freid, Editor-in-Chief

In February, 12 students visited PDS from Beijing. During their time here, the Spokesman had an opportunity to interview the students and learn more about their culture, experience in America, and the major differences between school in the U.S. and in China.

What are the major differences between your school in Beijing and PDS?

Jason: “There are a lot of differences between our school in Beijing and PDS here because students here are more active and more free to choose their interests and figure out their own schedules. I also think that students here are really kind, and they are really willing to have us be one of them. For example, the fencing team gave me a lot of advice …Besides, American students are more creative. I mean, the main difference is not about students. I am talking about teachers. I had two physics classes with Mr. Lapinski, and the first thing that is very impressive is his classroom. He has everything—a lot of experiment equipment and stuff like that. This is really impressive and fascinated me. Besides, he taught the students not only about theory but also showed us and did it himself. I think that’s the main difference between American and Chinese teachers.”

Sophia: “I am super envious of the students here because in this education system, which is different from what we have in China, they can have a long term relationship or friendship because they know each other from very young and are in the same school together. Also, the students participate more actively during classes, and sometimes, they sit in circle with their teachers, too, so there’s no gap between teachers and students. It is like they are friends, and they are just discussing one topic. I think it is more free to voice your own opinion that way. Students also have more choice to choose their interests, like during their spare time or even in academic fields. I am a 10th grader now, so I am not sure what it will be like for the next two years, but from what I have seen now, students here are discussing topics more deeply. For example, they discuss international relationships and governments, which we didn’t have the chance to cover. I hope we can have a chance to do that.”

What was something that surprised you during this trip?

Summer: “Before I came here, I actually watched a lot of movies about American high schools and TV Shows about American high schools. They are about dating and shopping and wearing beautiful clothes, and a lot of movies really stress Spring Fling King and Queen instead of studying. So when I first came here, I thought American high school was going to be like that, like a fashion show everywhere, but it turns out that everyone is really focused on what they are doing. They are studying really hard and everyday. They stay up late until like 12:00 to finish their homework or study for a test, and that’s completely opposite of my impression of American high schools. I thought that American high school was going to be more relaxing, but it turns out they study as hard as we do and they are more athletic than we are, and they have their own opinions, so that really surprised me a lot.”

Steven: “The greatest difference and the thing that is shocking me is the politics and they way they have elections. Before I came to America, people were talking about how America is a democratic country and how America is selling their democracy to the whole world, like the African countries, but after I came here, I thought they are a kind of democracy, but I think they are more of a republic. Also, the way they have elections is really tedious, maybe. They kind of are having too much debate. They are not focusing on the thing they are going to do and maybe just the debating skill. Maybe who will be the president is who can speak more fluently and more attractively.”


What are the differences extracurricular-wise between PDS and your school in Beijing?

Summer: “In our school, we also have student council and when they were asking people if you want to come to student council [at our school], I thought I’ve never heard of it, and I don’t think it’s a big deal, so I didn’t go, but here, we just went to student council yesterday, and I saw how powerful it can be. It can create new rules for students and fight for rights for students. In our school, it is kind of just a name, and it doesn’t do any surprising things for us. Although we have the same thing, I think there is a potential difference here between our schools, which is that you guys actually carry out your plans but sometimes we are as much ‘sayers’ as we are doers.”