Students screaming chants in unison, dressed as animals. Cheerleaders warming up. Fans packing into the stands. The marching band playing songs everyone knows the words to–everyone but sophomore Lily Le, who stands frozen in the middle of it all.
An international student from Hanoi, Vietnam, Le attended her first-ever high school football game at Carmel on August 30.
Le came to study at Carmel through Amerigo Education.
“We help to give [the students] an enriching experience that helps build the foundation for a bright future,” Stacie Gottlieb, Director of Campus Operations for Amerigo’s Chicago North Shore campus, said. “Our goal is for our students to find their passions, make life-long friendships, and thrive in the classroom.”
“The game was very fun, but it was almost like [culture shock],” Le said. “Everyone was so loud and knew the words to everything, even some song about bananas.”
This is Le’s first year studying abroad.
“I decided to study abroad for a better education,” Le said. “I hope to learn more about different cultures and to make more friends.”
Her first American football game wasn’t the only difference Le has encountered so far.
“At my school back in Vietnam, we had eight periods a day, and we had to learn all the subjects in one semester,” Le said. “Carmel has a lot of clubs and sports that my old school didn’t have.”
Planning to join a variety of clubs and activities, Le likes listening to music, playing the piano, and watching Netflix in her free time.
However, along with change comes challenges.
“When I first came here, I had a lot of difficulties including jet lag, make new friends and the differences between [Chinese and American culture]” Le said.
A challenge Le also encounters the most prominently is her homesickness.
“The bad part of studying and living abroad is that you are going to feel lonely sometimes. You will miss your home, your family, your dogs, and your friends a lot,” Le said. “I really miss my family and friends at home and I also really miss Vietnamese food.”
To Le, though, one of the parts of studying abroad is facing challenges. However, she believes that these challenges and obstacles help her grow.
“Living abroad has changed me a lot. I learn to be more independent in many aspects and also be more socialize with people,” Le said. “I grow a lot through this experience.”
And, in the end, this experience is all worth it for Le, who hopes to continue studying in America after high school.
“Studying abroad makes me stronger and better reminds me to try harder and harder every day,” Le said. “My favorite part about studying and living abroad is that I meet a lot of friends and people outside the people I know in my home country.”