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Foreign Exchange Students Reflect On Riverbank
Exchange students Marie Lamo of Norway and Alberto Esteban from Spain made some interesting comparisons with their own countries when they were interviewed recently about the year they are spending at Riverbank High School.

Chosen Winter Homecoming Queen in late January, Lamo noted Norwegian students play sports at their schools but after school hours, for it is not part of the school curriculum. They call their teachers by their first names but do not have social ceremonies such as Homecoming and Junior/Senior Prom.

"I really wish the school cafeteria food here was better," she said. "But I like the weather. It is very warm compared with Norway."

Lamo lives on an island called Stord that has a population of about 20,000 people and three high schools. It lies about two hours drive from the big city of Bergen on the west coast.

She plays basketball for Riverbank High, a game entirely new to her. The popular game in Norway is handball "soccer played with your hands," she said.

A well-traveled teen, she has visited Spain, Greece, England, Germany, Cyprus, Denmark and Sweden on vacation but this is her first lengthy stay abroad on a foreign exchange.

Staying in New York on a campus for a week before coming to Riverbank, she found everybody very friendly and eager to talk once they heard her accent and realized she was a foreigner.

Esteban comes from the city of Zaragoza that has a population of about 700,000 and combines heavy industry and cultural pleasures and was founded by the Romans.

This is not his first time in the States. Two summers ago, he visited New York. He also has been to France and the Netherlands but only spent a week each in those countries.

"This is a very relaxed and comfortable place to live. The people are very friendly," he said of the Riverbank area. "The disadvantage is you can't get anywhere without a car. In Zaragoza, I can walk or take a bus everywhere."

Of Spanish schools, he said the teachers do not give the students so much individual help. They teach the subject, give the tests and press ahead with getting through the curriculum. The students must pay attention and study hard.

"You're kind of on your own," he said, adding he is thinking of pursuing a career in science or becoming a language teacher. He can speak French and English besides his native Spanish.

Both Lamo and Esteban have Jason and Lynee Baldonado as their host parents and are staying at their home while they attend Riverbank High School.