Educated in America

Senior Lenja Bartholomoeus from Germany and junior Anita Coquinati from Italy are experiencing what it’s like to be educated in the United States.

More stories from Liani Cheverez-Senguis

Senior Lenja Bartholomoeus and junior Anita Coquinati work together in their journalism class. Bartholomoeus is from Germany and Coquinati is from Italy.

Photo By: Liani Cheverez-Senguis

Senior Lenja Bartholomoeus and junior Anita Coquinati work together in their journalism class. Bartholomoeus is from Germany and Coquinati is from Italy.

Coming to America seems ideal for many people – it’s about the American Dream. It has always been the place to be and a place to start a new life.

It is also perceived to have one of the best education systems in the world, where students from all over spend a semester or an entire school year getting educated in America. Two students, one from Germany and one from Italy, came to Judson High School to experience what this country had to offer. 

Senior Lenja Bartholomoeus from Germany said that it has been an adjustment for both her and junior Anita Coquinati, who is from Italy.

“Everything is so big here – the grocery stores, the cars, the roads, the school, everything is overwhelming,” Bartholomeous said. “But, people are nicer here.”

One of the biggest culture shocks in America was the American school system itself.

“For Europeans, they think the American education system is really easy. But I don’t think so – economics is hard,” Bartholomoeus said.

Coquinati made sure to mention school safety, which is vastly different than in European countries.

“Here, you have lockdown drills. You have to be prepared for that,” Coquinati said.

Needless to say, being away from home, one of the biggest things both of them miss are their families.

“When I first got here, I automatically thought ‘I miss my family, I miss my friends,” Coquinati said. “I realized how much my family means to me.”

Now that they are here, Bartholomoeus mentioned she could improve on something that can be perceived as so simple – her language skills.

“I can improve my English (and Spanish) [while I’m here]. But, I am focusing on my education [as a whole], to see something new and different,” Bartholomoeus said.

The learning methods are different, extracurricular activities are different, and even the people you work with are different. In Italy, Coquinati shares that she sticks with the same small group of students all five years of their high school career.

 “You create bonds with the kids in your class and become a big friend group,” Coquinati said.

One of the benefits of the American system is how teachers are pushed to build bonds with students.

All of the foreign exchange students put their passports together before coming to the United States. Photo submitted by Anita Coquinati.

“I like how your teachers… care and how they build bonds and relationships with their students. In Italy, it’s not like that – they’re just there to teach,” Coquinati said.

Another big difference is the focus on mental health.

“I feel like so many students here are so depressed. In Germany, we don’t have a lot of that. It is not a common thing,” Bartholomaues said. 

Even transportation is an adjustment – you may not live near your school.

“In Italy, everything is so close to her that I could walk to any place I wanted,” Coquinati said.

Bartholomaues went on to say how she gets around in Germany.

“In Germany, I can take the train and the bus to different places with my friends. I take the bus to school every morning because I live far from my school,” Bartholomaues said. 

As they compare America to their hometowns, there are many notable similarities and differences within both countries. They both stated that even though they enjoy it here, they’re looking forward to going back home to see their family and their old friends. But with both students, we can clearly see that based on their statements – they enjoy America and all that it has to offer even though they will only be here for a few more months.

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