Life As An International Student at Montini Catholic High School

Angie attends Montini Catholic High School in Chicago, Illinois. She has a great support system at school and at home, and is already thriving during her first semester at the school. She recently sat down with us to discuss life in the United States, living with a host family, and advice she has for other international students.

On attending Montini Catholic High School…

In Korea, I went to an all-girls high school that focused on academics and not on extra-curricular activities like art and music. I knew I wanted to explore a collaboration between my studies and my hobbies and study music and art. This is why I decided to come to the United States to study. I like Montini because there is a large international program with a lot of support. It is a great environment to start!

Math and international studies are my favorite classes. Numbers are a universal language, which I like. When I first started, I was afraid that I wouldn’t understand the problems because they were in English, but my math teacher learned some Korean words to help the international students out!

I was nervous to start my theology class at first because it is so different than the type of classes I took in Korea, but I really like the story-telling aspect of it. It is really interesting.

My favorite extra-curricular activity is chorus. I love to sing. The choir has concerts every quarter, which was one of my first time singing in front of people. I’m the only non-native English speaker in the choir, but I enjoy the challenge. I even sang a song in Spanish! I wasn’t sure exactly what I was saying, but all of the kids in the choir helped me out a lot!

I am also a part of the Yearbook club, the Math Team, and am in the school play. I am considering playing sports in the spring.

The most challenging part of studying in the United States is making friends and feeling homesick. I am a very positive person, but sometimes I miss home. When I miss home, I try and avoid Korean things and think about the great things about American culture so I can embrace the culture I’m living in. I also decided to get involved with school to overcome culture shock and make new friends and express my abilities and passions!

On living with a host family…

I enjoy living with my host family, and I like that they have a dog! My host sisters help me with homework, English phrases and tell me the meanings of different US holidays. I love new experiences and new friends, so I was really excited to meet them and live with them. I lived in a dorm for a semester in Maryland which was a very different experience than a host family. I really enjoy just living a normal life together.

The most challenging part of adjusting to living with my host family is food. They aren’t very fond of Asian food, and don’t like Kimchi, which is one of my favorites! They really like Mexican and Italian food, which I’ve never had. I wasn’t sure if I would like it but I like to try everything and experience new things!

On advice to other international students…

Speaking from myself, and from what I’ve heard from other Asian students, we are always concerned about whether our English is good enough. But, the thing I’ve found with native students and people here is that they are all super easy to talk to because everyone is so friendly here. When I first got here, I was very shy so I acted confident until I gained confidence. One way I became confident in speaking English is joining a lot of activities so I could have a lot of opportunities to make new friends.

If I were to give advice to the parents of an international student, I would tell them that if your child is with a good host and a good school then there is no need to worry! I would also tell them to encourage their children to join clubs and to not just do stuff on their own. Lastly, I would say make sure you mingle with all the students at the school or else the American kids will think the international students don’t want to hang out with them.

I know how difficult it is to study in a completely foreign culture because I am currently experiencing it. I get lonely and homesick sometimes. I feel like I don’t belong in Korea, but I also don’t fit into American culture yet, but I know that I’ve started this and I need to finish it! Remember that these feelings are normal and everyone goes through it, that will help.