Finnish & Spanish natives complete studies in Seaford
By Lynn R. Parks.
Cristina Alcocer and Anna Lampinen will soon return to their European homes after having spent a year as students in Seaford High School. They will take with them memories of their school year in the United States and increased knowledge of the English language.
They will also take home with them extra pounds. Anna, a native of Finland, has gained 25 pounds since coming to the United States Aug. 9. Cristina, from Spain, has also gained weight since arriving in September, how much she is not sure. "I don't weigh myself," she said.
But neither girl is worried about her weight gain. "It is OK," Anna said. "I will lose the weight when I get home."
Anna and Cristina attribute their increased poundage to the fast food Americans so love.
"Pizza, hamburgers, French fries, every night," Cristina said. "Even in the cafeteria, everything is fast food."
Anna said that people in the United States tend to eat more than do people in her native Finland. "And the food is different here, so you want to try all of it," she added.
Their weight gain may also be due to changes in lifestyle: Both said that in Europe, they walk and bike a lot more than people do here.
"In Spain, I go home to eat or sleep," Cristina said. "I am always out with friends, taking a walk, going to the park, going to coffee shops. Here we are at home all of the time."
"It is a cultural thing," Anna agreed. "People are more at home here. In Europe, they are always out with their friends or with their family."
Regardless of the differences between their native cultures and culture in the United States, both girls said that they enjoyed their stay. Both got to visit major eastern cities as well as the beach and both want to return, to study and simply to visit.
Her parents called weekly
Cristina, 17, lives in Micauda de Ebco, Spain. She is the only child of Antonio Alcocer and Maria del Pilar.
"They missed me," she said. "They called each week and my mom would say, 'Only three more weeks," or 'Only two more weeks.' I missed them a little bit. But it was not like, 'I want to go home.' It was a new experience."
Her host family were the Jesters, Fred and Brenda as well as Rachel, 17, Marcia, 19, and Seth, 14. "They are very nice," she said.
Cristina completed her junior year at Seaford High School. Unlike Anna, whose school will accept few of the credits she earned at Seaford, she will receive credits for her classes here and will start next year as a senior. After graduation from high school, she hopes to study psychology.
She said that in addition to her increased knowledge of English, she has also grown in self-awareness. "I know more how I will react to things," she said.
She was a member of the Henlopen Conference champion Seaford High School soccer team. She will return home June 21.
Two more years of high school
Anna, 18, will go home to Imatra, Finland, July 10 after spending a week in Puerto Rico with the Seaford American Foreign Studies club. She is the daughter of Anita and Veli Lampinen and has a younger brother, Henri. While in Seaford, she lived with Sally and Scott Andersen and their sons, Dustin, 10, and Geoff, 17.
Anna will have two more years of high school study in Finland before graduation. She said that because studies in Finland are so much more rigorous than those in Seaford, the diploma she received from Seaford High School on Friday will mean nothing. After high school, she hopes to study communications.
"In Finland we have lots of homework every day," said Anna, who has studied six languages, Finnish, Swedish, English, French, German and Spanish. "Here, I hardly had any homework. And all the tests here were multiple choice, easy. At home, all questions are essay questions."
"I didn't study for anything," added Cristina, who ended the year with all As. "I thought US history would be hard because I have never had it before, but it was OK."
She was surprised to find that in her Seaford High Spanish 4 class, students were allowed to converse in English. "In my English 4 class in Spain, there is no Spanish allowed. You have to speak in English."
In spite of that, Anna said that she learned a lot during her stay in the United States. "You start to know yourself better," she said. "You grow a lot."
Anna was also on the soccer team. She was a cheer leader and a member of language clubs and the AFS club.
Will stay in touch
The girls said that despite the difference in their native lands, they became good friends during their year as exchange students.
"Our countries are different, but they are both Europe," Cristina said.
"We understand each other," Anna added. "We will stay in touch."
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