District News

Exchange students bring international flavor to LMHS

Posted on: January 8, 2016

(From left to right) LMHS exchange students Anika Buss, Concetta Varia, Juliana Hernandez-Castano, Ina Henrichsen and Juliana Soncin.

The hallways of Little Miami High School have a more international flavor this year thanks to young people visiting from other countries.

Five international exchange students have attended classes at LMHS this year in order to improve their English skills, sample the culture and get a taste of what it means to be an American teenager.

Anika Buss, 15, of Germany, Juliana Soncin, 15, of Brazil, Concetta Varia, 17, of Italy, Ina Henrichsen, 15, of Germany, and Juliana Hernandez Castano, 18, of Colombia, are all being hosted by local families and are taking a wide variety of classes at the high school. Buss’s stay was for just one-half the school year and she returned home at the end of 2015.

While here, the students had a chance to choose some favorite – and least favorite – things about living in Ohio. All five had a chance to compare notes during a recent lunch hosted by LMHS guidance counselors.

Food is always a popular topic for teens, and the flavors Cincinnatians take for granted can be quite strange to visitors.

“I do not like the chili,” Varia said. “But the junk food is better in America!” Varia also said that Italian restaurants like Olive Garden aren’t quite hitting the mark when compared to the real deal she gets at home. Several of the girls said the portion sizes in the states are much bigger than they are used to. They also have noticed that Americans are more laid back than people in their own country, both in attitude and dress.

“I saw someone in pajamas at Kroger!” Varia said. “Or wearing sandals and socks! In my country, we would never wear yoga pants out.”

When it comes to the classroom, the students said they have enjoyed their experience at the high school.

“Here you get to select your classes and learn more about what you like,” Henrichsen said. Among the list of favorites: Physics labs, Greg Robinson’s rock and roll class, and yoga and dance. They also love being honorary Panthers for as long as they can.

“You have much more school spirit here,” Henrichsen said. “There are no sport teams for your school in Germany.”

All of the visiting students agreed that their fellow classmates at Little Miami have been friendly and eager to make them feel at home, but sometimes the natives ask some odd questions.

“I come from Sicily, so someone always asks me if I know mafioso,” Varia said, laughing. For the record, she does not.

With just a few months left to enjoy their stay, the students said they had a list of things they still want do. They all have been to Kings Island, but only a couple had been to a Reds game (no word on American football). They also had great enthusiasm for something the locals have mixed feelings about: Snow. Ice skating, sledding and skiing top the list of activities they are excited to try.