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Columbia High Students Studying Abroad with Rotary

Columbia’s Paris Happel looks to drive a spike into the heart of the King’s Way defense during last Thursday’s 1A Trico League match in Miller Gym. The Bruins fell to the Trico co-leaders in straight sets.

Photo by Sverre Bakke
Columbia’s Paris Happel looks to drive a spike into the heart of the King’s Way defense during last Thursday’s 1A Trico League match in Miller Gym. The Bruins fell to the Trico co-leaders in straight sets.



Last week, The Enterprise, introduced you to the two rotary exchange students visiting from Colombia and France.

This week we hear from three of the four White Salmon students, Chloe Hanks, Finn Coffin, and Bowen Durkee who are spending this year studying abroad in Italy, Brazil and Turkey. The fourth student, Gabe Roth, was unavailable for comment

Is this your first time outside the country? If not where else have you travelled?

Chloe Hanks: No, I’ve been to Canada and Mexico.

Finn Coffin: No, I have been to Canada and Japan.

Bowen Durkee: It is my first time out of the country. I haven’t even traveled much in the states either, so it was a big leap for me.

What did you know about the country you are visiting before traveling there?

Hanks: Italy is a pretty well-known country, so I thought I knew a lot about it after reading some articles and doing some research but it’s impossible to prepare for moving to another country.

Coffin: I knew that soccer was a big deal, the beaches are incredible, and the fruit is to die for. I also knew that the people are incredibly kind and hospitable.

Durkee: I thought I knew quite a bit about Turkey before I came. I studied a little history and tried to keep up with their politics, but there is so much more here than words can describe. It’s by far one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen, of course being a close second to our home.

Why did you choose to visit that country in particular?

Hanks: Well I wouldn’t exactly call it visiting since I’m here for almost a year, but I wasn’t really set on Italy. It was my number one choice, but I had made a spur of the moment decision which turned out great for me.

Coffin: I wanted to go to Brazil for the weather, the soccer, the people and the food.

Durkee: I chose Turkey because it has so much diversity compared to the US, but it also has many influences from all over the world. I think that’s what gives it its unique beauty.

What is the city/town you are in like compared to White Salmon?

Hanks: I’m in Milan which is a huge city, so it’s obviously much more populated than White Salmon with more to do. Milan also has an extensive public transit system which I have really taken advantage of.

Coffin: Uberaba is much larger than White Salmon, with about 300,000 inhabitants. It is much more dangerous. For instance, I cannot take my phone and wallet certain places, and I’m not allowed to walk or run alone in the city.

Durkee: It’s hard to compare Izmir to White Salmon being that it’s four times the size of Portland, but I would say the people are just as hospitable as back home, even with the language barrier. I think the best way to describe it is putting Portland and Seattle together but having them in Seattle’s location.

What have you enjoyed or disliked so far?

Hanks: I’ve enjoyed pretty much everything. Coffee is amazing, gelato is amazing, the people are amazing, and the language is amazing.

Coffin: The food here in Brazil is amazing, and super cheap. The kids I play soccer with are the best I’ve ever seen, hands down. I wish I could run in the city alone. There are a couple foods that I dislike, mandioca and jaca.

Durkee: I can’t say I’ve disliked anything really. I haven’t even had one bad day. I enjoy spending time with my new friends on the Kordon (water front). There, we mostly sit on the grass, talk, listen to the music people are playing, you can really do anything there. I have tried many foods as well and even though I can never remember the names of them they have all been very different to me but very pleasant at the same time. I’m not the biggest fan of Turkish yogurt but it’s slowly growing on me.

Are there events you are looking forward to or places you are looking forward to visiting?

Hanks: I’m looking forward to visiting Rome and Florence in April and then going on the Eurotour, which is a trip around 11 countries in Europe in June.

Coffin: I will be making a trip to the Amazon, which will be an incredible experience. I am also going on a trip starting on the northeast coast of Brazil and going all the way down to Rio de Janeiro. I’m also going to see Roger Waters live in Brasilia, the nation’s capital.

Durkee: I’m really looking forward to exploring the country. There is some good history here and I would love to see it all. I’ve already been to Ephesus and it was so beautiful, and next weekend I will be in Istanbul. I’m also looking forward to wrestling out here. I hope to come back and bring White Salmon their first state champion.

How different or similar is the school you are attending compared to CHS?

Hanks: My school is the best public school in Milan, which got so big that they had to split it into two buildings. Here, the students stay in the classroom and the teachers move around. We only have classes from 8:00-1:05.

Coffin: In Brazil, the students stay in the classroom, and the teachers rotate. I have different classes every single day. My school day is 7:30-12:30. The relationship between students and teachers is very different. Every day, the teacher comes in and the first 10 minutes of class he or she is giving everybody handshakes and hugs and cracking jokes with the students. Also, it is not uncommon to go out to dinner with your teachers or invite them to a barbecue at your house.

Durkee: My school is different from the rest of the schools in Izmir because it is an American school, so all the students speak English, but you don’t really get the feel for the whole “America high school culture” because it’s a strong academic school. The school’s campus is about the same size as CHS, but I would say we are about the size of a 2A maybe even a 3A school, which is crazy for me because I’m still seeing people that I’ve never seen before and compared to back home you probably would have met the whole school in a week or so. There aren’t really any school sports here either except a basketball team but other than that there’s just clubs.



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