Princeton welcomes foreign exchange student
Written by Anna Burke | Reporter
On September 5th, 2013, Princeton High School acquired a new foreign exchange student. Alina Kim, 17, is from Kazakhstan, a country between Russia and China.
Kim came here through the Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX.) This is a program for students from countries that used to be part of the USSR. The US sponsors this program to promote bonds between those countries and the US.
“I expected that when I came here, nobody would know about Kazakhstan,” said Kim.
Kazakhstan is the 9th largest country in the world and is neighbored by six countries; She was pleasantly surprised to find out that several of Princeton’s students had actually heard of the country.
Kim has noticed many differences between the US and Kazakhstan.
“Teenagers have more freedom in America,” said Kim.
In Kazakhstan, 18 years of age is the requirement for obtaining a driver’s license. While students at Princeton High School are allowed to choose their classes, the students where Kim goes to school have to learn 20 subjects a week. The schedule changes from day to day. In school, students are taught German, English, and sometimes even French.
Physics is her favorite subject and she has been taking it since she was younger. She is currently taking it at the IB level. She does not like AP Calculus because it is so difficult in English.
Kim had heard a lot, true and false, about the United States before she came here. Among many stereotypes, she was told that Americans think blood is blue.
“A lot of people told me that most of the population is overweight, but I don’t see how. Everyone is so skinny.” said Kim.
In Kazakhstan, Kim lives with her mother, her father, and her brother. They have no pets, as is common in Kazakhstan. Her mother works at a bank, her father is a businessman, and her nine-year-old brother goes to school.
Here, Kim is staying in Springdale with her host family. Her host mother, Jennifer Pike, is a Spanish teacher at a local high school.
Kim and Pike often sit on the couch and watch television with Pike’s dog. Coming from a country where dogs are not commonly viewed as pets, this was an interesting surprise.
“In America, dogs are like little humans.” said Kim.
Kim will be staying for nine months. She will graduate here and return back to Kazakhstan in May of next year.