A pretty normal teenager

Honorable Mention, feature writing

Despite the more than 5,000 mile difference, junior Enid Frank has transitioned well as she spends this school year in Las Rozas, Spain.

“There’s not a big cultural difference,” Frank said.

Frank goes to school every day just as she would in America, and when she gets home, she does her homework.

“I’m pretty much a normal teenager,” Frank said.

Though Frank is an only child in her biological family, she has two host siblings in Spain, Nayade and Oscar, who are both in high school as well. Frank describes her relationship with them to be, well, like regular siblings.

“The idea is to be another family member of your host family,” Frank said.

Frank has already met a lot of her extended host family as well at various family events. One weekend, she enjoyed a vacation in Toledo celebrating her host grandmother’s birthday.

“[Toledo] is an ancient city that still has all of the original architecture: narrow stone streets, buildings [and] churches,” Frank said.

Most weekends aren’t that special, though, and Frank spends her regular free time doing the things she loves: listening to music, playing the violin, drawing and reading.

“Those are things that are the same no matter where I am in the world,” Frank said.

Besides the fact that everything is in Spanish, a language Frank knows well, her year in Spain isn’t all that different than it would be otherwise. Frank is also well versed in Spanish, making it easy for her to embrace her newfound home.

Budding linguist

When Arieh Simon started his junior year in Thailand, he didn’t know anything about the country’s language or culture.

“I barely even knew the weather conditions,” Simon says.

When he first arrived, Simon was placed in a host family in a small town in the northeast of the country. Suddenly, he had to be moved to Bangkok, the biggest city in Thailand.

In Bangkok, he has lived with two different host families so far. Throughout the perpetual changes, Simon’s held on to his study of the Thai language as a constant in his life.

“I didn’t realize how much I loved language,” Simon says.

Simon grew up speaking Spanish at César Chávez Elementary School and also went on a short trip to Panama.

“I loved speaking Spanish, but I never tried to speak another language,” Simon says.

At his Thai high school, Simon gets to take Thai classes and Spanish classes. He’s made it really far in his Thai studying and it’s paying off.

The Thai alphabet has a stunning 59 letters and many different polite/casual word-endings. Thankfully, Simon can ask his school friends any questions he has about the language.

“It’s crazy how much I can understand,” Simon says.

He’s reached the point where he can find the real meaning behind his friends’ words.

“They curse so much.”

Awkward kisses and intimidating fashion

DHS student Madeline Senter is spending her entire junior year in France. The number one custom that she still struggles with is “faire la bise,” the double cheek-kissing emblematic of French greetings.

“I’m too afraid to ask at this point, ‘Am I doing it wrong?’” Senter said.

“La bise” confuses many foreigners in France, but tourists typically don’t have to see a group of their peers perform the ritual every morning.

In Senter’s high school class, all her classmates greet each other with “la bise,” but she is still “hesitant to kiss [her] classmates” every day.

Senter still cringes at an incident where Chloe, one of her school friends, patted her own cheek trying to get Senter to perform the ritual greeting.

“You’re going to have to initiate this if you want me to do it because I don’t understand it,” Senter said about the incident.

The second most striking thing about French culture to Senter was the fashionable apparel of her high school classmates.

“Everybody looks good all the time,” Senter said.

She noted that the teenage boys were wearing skinny jeans, something not typical of boys at DHS. She soon realized that jeans were practically the only type of bottoms that anybody wore.

Senter said that the attitude was very much, “if you’re not wearing jeans, what are you even doing?”

Being a fan of athleisure, Senter is disappointed that she won’t be able to wear her leggings during the winter. Sadly, that style is just “not a thing” in France.