International students expand their worldview

Junior Meera Singh (age 13 in photo), wears a black and white Kimono while wading in the Odaiba hot spring theme park  with sister freshman Dhara Singh (age 11 in photo) in Japan. “Japanese people were more orderly; they were more polite and cared a lot about rules,” Meera Singh said.

Junior Meera Singh (age 13 in photo), wears a black and white Kimono while wading in the Odaiba hot spring theme park with sister freshman Dhara Singh (age 11 in photo) in Japan. “Japanese people were more orderly; they were more polite and cared a lot about rules,” Meera Singh said.

Imagine living in a place where English isn’t the first language, where the food and clothing are different, and where the customs are not the same as those in the United States. For some people, living in a new place might feel like a dream come true and for others it might seem terrifying.

Many students at St. Paul Academy and Summit School have had the unique experience of living abroad.  Though the countries they have lived in and the experiences they have had are unique one thing is clear:  living in a new place is challenging but very rewarding.

“I like learning about what different people are like in different countries,” freshman Lisa Buckingolts said.

Buckingolts has spent twelve of her summers living in Russia with her family members. She is fluent in Russian and thinks of Russia as her second home.

Buckingolts  said that people in Russia act differently than people in the United States.

“I think the biggest difference is that people don’t say hi to you when you walk down the streets [in Russia],” Buckingolts said.

Junior Meera Singh and her family lived in Tokyo, Japan for five years because of her father’s job. She said that she liked how easy it was to get around. Tokyo has an advanced subway system making it easy to travel the city even if you don’t have a car.  This can backfire, though. The narrow streets and complicated train routes make it easy to get lost.

“Tokyo was a big confusing city,” Singh said.

On top of that, most people in Japan speak Japanese making it hard to communicate.

Because Japan is an ocean away, “I didn’t get to see extended family or friends in America very often,” Singh said.

Despite those challenges Singh appreciates the people that she met and the experience she had in Japan. She agrees with Buckingolts; people behave differently from people in the U.S. “Japanese people were more orderly; they were more polite and cared a lot about rules,” Singh said.

The culture of the U.S. seems very familiar to those who have always lived here but as the world becomes continually more globalized there is no normal culture or typical way of life. For Buckingolts and Singh, this lesson is experienced firsthand.