Foreign exchange students return

Exchange students travel to Lawrence in greater numbers after year when many postponed travels due to COVID-19


Morganna Haaga

Students from all across Europe have found a new home at LHS this fall.

By Julia Barker, Features Editor

With vaccines widely available, many things have been able to return toward normalcy, including the return of foreign exchange students.

Lawrence High is now hosting five students from Denmark, France, Turkey, Spain and Poland. 

The exchange students will stay the entire school year and get the unique chance to experience American culture amid a pandemic. Many have goals of continuing studies, practicing English and getting the chance to have a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“I have so much expectations and I love U.S. education,” said Kutay Olguner, a junior from Turkey. “I have expectations for studying here and staying here for college. That’s what I am trying to do.”

Exchange students expressed their newfound love for Lawrence, and despite the many differences from their hometowns and home countries, they have found comfort in this small city.

“I really enjoy Lawrence. For me, this city is huge because I live in a smaller city in France, but I’m used to the big city because I often go to Paris,” said Justine Donnat Bouillud, a senior from France. “However, this is a big change because I live close to Italy and Switzerland, so I’m in the French Alps. My house is surrounded by mountains. Lawrence is really flat, but I love it anyway. I also love the fact that we are close to the University of Kansas, because I think the city is quite dynamic.”

Taking part in an American tradition, exchange student Maria Szydlo trick or treats as a devil with classmate junior Maxwell Cowardin (dressed as a rooster).The journalism class trick-or-treated during fifth hour in November so Szydlo would have the experience after she was sick on Halloween. (Audrey Basham)

Marta Gil Alarcon, a junior from Spain, said time in the country has altered her expectations of the impact of guns.

“Everyone is so scared about guns and arms because in Europe they are illegal,” Gil Alarcon said. “Once you get here, [you think] like, ‘Oh, they are legal. It’s going to be so dangerous.’ Once you are here, you really see that’s not the most important thing.”

From this trip, the exchange students hope to take away valuable memories, friendships and to grow more independent. 

“I think this experience makes you more mature because you have to leave your country alone, and it’s like you are changing all of your life,” Donnat Bouillud said. “Of course, this year will allow me to improve my English. I also want to meet new people I can count on.”