Foreign exchange student begins year-long adventure

Estefnaia Zapata is an exchange student from Foothill who is attending Foothill this year. Credit: Chrissy Springer/The Foothill Dragon Press

Kienna Kulzer

Estefanía Zapata is an exchange student from Foothill who is attending Foothill this year. Credit: Chrissy Springer/The Foothill Dragon Press
Estefanía Zapata is an exchange student from Foothill who is attending Foothill this year. Credit: Chrissy Springer/The Foothill Dragon Press

This year, Foothill’s senior class welcomed an exciting new addition: Estefanía Zapata. Zapata left her home in Colombia to live in the United States for an entire year.

She said that at first she was very hesitant to be a part of the foreign exchange program. But, driven by her desire to improve her English and her independence, she made the brave decision to get on the plane to California.

“Everything is so fast here: Fast food, fast people,” she said.

She noticed that although everyone seems to be in a constant rush, they’re also very kind. Compared to Colombia, she has found her fellow students to be very open and not as judgmental.

“Here, if you have a condition it makes you the same thing as other people. Because you’re a teenager you have that in common with the other people and your skin color doesn’t matter,” she said.

As for her home, there are aspects Zapata misses and some she does not.

“It is more colorful there and you can hear music all the time. Yet [in Columbia] you have to take every class. It’s like an obligation,” she said.

Zapata learned English by herself, mainly by just listening to music from the United States, and she now speaks it very well. But being a teacher’s assistant for Spanish 3 is still her favorite class because it’s where she feels the most comfortable.

“I can interact with people better and I feel that I know what I’m doing,” she said. “And my classmates are really cool.”

Many of Foothill’s staff members also greeted Zapata’s arrival.

“Estefania brings a lot to the classroom. She’s a definite asset,” Spanish 3 teacher Steven Perfect said. “She’s a very positive and open person. She’s very willing to share.”

The students seem to enjoy hearing Zapata talk about her culture and are very grateful to have someone to ask whenever they have questions on grammar or spelling regarding Spanish.

Hanna Rivera, a sophomore in Spanish 3, said, “It’s nice having someone our own age to ask for help.”

Foothill senior Kara Mead and her family are hosting Zapata for her year-long experience in California. She loves her host family, and wishes to the United States later to visit them and everyone else she has met so far.

Zapata can’t wait to continue the rest of her year-long adventure here at Foothill.

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