I am Mai from Vietnam. This is my second year at Kennedy Catholic and I’m in 11th grade. I chose to study in the U.S. because I wanted to have many opportunities to study subjects that I like. Now that I’m here, I am gaining life skills that will give me a brighter future.
I was attracted to Kennedy Catholic High School because it is recognized as one of the top private high schools in Washington State and because of the many Advanced Placement classes that are offered. I liked that there is an ESL program as well as International Education staff members designated to support international students. There was also the opportunity to apply for a scholarship. I like the weather in Seattle and the scenery is pretty.
What I like best about studying here is that there are many clubs and activities for students.
My teachers willingly help me and take time to answer my questions if I cannot understand the lesson. Students are treated like family members.
What I miss most about home are my friends and my biggest surprise about U.S. life and education is that students do not have to study 13 subjects at the same time, which is the norm in Vietnam. Instead, students can choose to study elective subjects like arts, singing, digital photography, and fitness classes such as team sports and yoga. I also am impressed by the equality offered to girls. We can play sports just like the boys and can also join the choir to sing.
My biggest challenge academically is my Theology class. I had no basic prior foundation in the Catholic faith, so this course is extremely difficult for me. One disappointment for me was learning about the plight of homelessness in the city. I had not encountered this at home.
When I first arrived in the U.S. I was shy and I was unsure about making friends, but then, I realized that people here are super friendly. Overall, it’s been pretty easy to make friends since everyone is friendly and nice. We exchange messages on social media and then we hang out. What I will remember the most is that most of my American friends thought that I was Vietnamese-American. Nobody knew that I was actually an international student until I told them so. It is fantastic when all my friends treat me as if I am a real American.
A noticeable difference between my school in Vietnam and Kennedy Catholic is that students sit in only one class for a whole year, then teachers move from class to class to instruct. In contrast, students here move from class to class and teachers would stay in their classrooms. Students have more freedom and can choose their elective subjects. Also, students are not expected to be perfectly smart at every single subject.
I like staying with my host family. I learn lots of things about American culture and have a wonderful environment to practice English. I’ve gotten involved by joining the Swim and Dive team as well as the Math team. I usually participate in the monthly Extraordinary Experience sponsored for international students. We’ve done some fun things like watching football, soccer, going to the pumpkin patch, and seeing a musical drama.
Students should study abroad. U.S. schooling is amazing and you will not regret coming to study here. At Kennedy Catholic, we are a Lancer Family. You are treated as a family member!
Studying abroad is not easy, but that means you must prepare to face many things independently (managing your spending, paying your phone bill, scheduling your time, etc.). Some students will be faced with homesickness or language and cultural differences. Sometimes, you might not finish your homework or understand the lessons, but It happens sometimes and that’s okay. You will just need time to get used to a completely new environment. Don’t forget one important tip: you will have a family here to help you.
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