Q&A with Swiss Exchange Student Micha Streuli


(Courtesy Micha Streuli) Streuli visiting Gettysburg.

This school year, West Potomac welcomed a number of foreign exchange students, one being junior Micha Streuli from Switzerland. Although difficult at times, he was quick to adapt himself to the school’s community, like joining the Cross Country team and attending Friday football games.

Why did you decide to be an exchange student (and why did you choose the United States)?

I decided to be an exchange student because I wanted to get to know a new culture. My sister already did an exchange year in Colorado with the same organization and that inspired me to do one as well. Also, I’ve been in the United States already twice for [vacation] and I started loving this country. I wanted to learn English and I really like the United States so it wasn’t difficult to make a decision.

Tell me about the process of becoming an exchange student.

Becoming an exchange student is quite a long process. First I had to apply for the program [which[ means a lot of paperwork. Then, when they picked me, I had to do more paperwork and some medical things as well. I met my representative from Switzerland a few times and finally I had to get my visa too [which] takes quite a while and a lot of paperwork again.

What is it like living with a host family?

Living with host parents is of course very different from living with your own parents. You go to people for a year without even knowing them. But my host parents are great. We do many things and go places and they’re really nice.

How long will you be here?

I will be here for the whole school year. Then after the school year we have a camp from my organization and then all the exchange students fly back to their country.

What is the biggest difference between Switzerland and the United States?

So many things are really different. I think the school is the most different. We have every class with the same people in Switzerland, school lasts until 3-5 pm (depending on your schedule), the lunchtime is much longer and we don’t really have school spirit as you do. If we do sports we have to do it after school in a private club.

Do you plan on permanently living in the United States later in your life?

I really like the United States and I would like to live here for a few years and work here but I think I wouldn’t want to live here forever. I think I would miss my country too much after a while.

How long have you been learning English?

I’ve been learning English since [3rd] grade. I also go to a bilingual class what means I have some classes like [History] or [Math] in English.

Had you been to the United States before this trip?

I’ve been to the USA already twice before. We went to the [West Coast] (Seattle, Vancouver, California) in 2012 and last year we went to Florida and Georgia.

How often do you talk with your family back home?

I chat a lot with my family and my friends. I don’t [Skype too] often with them because we have to find a time that fits the time difference. I guess we [Skype] about once every 2/3 weeks

What are the BEST parts of being an exchange student? What are the WORST parts of being an exchange student?

It’s great to experience a new culture, doing all kinds of American things. I meet so many new people and get new friends. Because I’m here for a year we do so many things and go to places and I love that. What’s not so cool is the language barrier. It’s really annoying sometimes. In the middle of a conversation I don’t know a word and then the conversation gets destroyed.