Day 111. This Time, I’m the Foreign Exchange Student

Sunday, June 12, 2011

My friend, Jeff, teases me about my love of foreign nationals.

He says I can sense their presence and will seek them out if they are nearby. He’s right. I feel comfortable saying it now, I love foreign nationals, or just anyone who has a story that is different from me. Maybe it’s because my dad is a college tennis coach and has always had foreign players on the team. Or, maybe, it started when my mom volunteered working to resettle Bosnians in the mid ’90s. Whatever it is, I love the diversity in LA. I love that sometimes when I’m in a crowded place and there is the loud din of conversation noise, that I will be genuinely surprised if I hear English spoken. I don’t know who is the foreigner here, them, or me.

Now, the most majestic foreign national of them all is the foreign exchange student. Everyone had at least one in high school. I bet as you read this, you can think of those people. They were like the school celebrity. I can remember Guillermo, Andrei, and Jeremy (?).They were always attached at the hip to the host family, and you always kind of wondered how that worked.

As I sit in my room, within the house I share with my friend’s parents, I realize that I am the foreign exchange student. I’m the one from far away living with a host family. I don’t really know the customs.

Here is a list of the similarities between myself and a foreign exchange student.

1) Foreign exchange student comes from a far off place with different customs

-I come from the Midwest, which is as familiar as the Middle East to a lot of people here.

2) Foreign exchange student at some point might say, “No, I’m from Austria, not Australia, they’re different. Violins, not kangaroos.”

-I have had to say, “No, I’m from Iowa, not Ohio, they’re different. Corn, not Cleveland.”

3) Foreign exchange student doesn’t quite dress right and wears dark socks with shorts.

-Without Michelle around, I dress wrong, and actually wear dark socks with shorts.

4) The host family will cook food that is new to the foreign exchange student.

-My host family uses things like vegetables, and cooks things “from scratch,” whatever that means.

5) Foreign exchange student is always good at soccer.

-I’m good at paper football.

6) Foreign exchange student always has way more hairy arms and chest than the normal guy.

-I have eleven hairs on my chest.

7) Foreign exchange student smells like B.O., or too much cologne.

-I smell like I fell asleep eating off-brand ‘Nilla Wafers in my bed.

8.) Foreign exchange student says things that are almost proper English. “I sit on phone and talk family.” No, honey, it’s, “I’m on the phone talking to my family.”

-I say, “See ya, I’m driving to the Valley, so I’m going to hop on Highway 110.” No, honey, it’s “I’m driving to the Valley, so I’m going to hop on THE 110.”

9) Foreign exchange student doesn’t have a car, so he’s always bumming a ride.

-I have a car, but it is foreign.

10) Foreign exchange student is always deemed ‘hot’ to the opposite sex.

-This has yet to happen.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Day 111. This Time, I’m the Foreign Exchange Student

  1. you take the 101 into the valley, not the 110. ugh, foreigners…..

  2. Dan

    you would LOVE the store i work at. SO MANY international customers.

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