Jimmy’s life as an exchange student in Norway
I eagerly want to share my experience here in Norway as an exchange student through Project Haiti, and especially how I ended up on a wonderful class trip to Murmansk, Russia.
I have been a student at Petit Troll for 13 years, since the very beginning of the school. I am really lucky to be one of the two students who got a scholarship from Project Haiti to do the International Baccalaureate Diploma program at Senja videregående skole in Finnsnes, Norway and now here I am.
It’s been very tough for me, having grown up in Port-au-Prince, Haiti which is a poor country, where life is difficult due to the economic, social and political problems. The education system is in quite poor quality and I think it was good for me to try something new; it was time for me to learn about a new culture!
I came to Norway 8 months ago; I live with a host family in Rossfjordstraumen. It’s a very good atmosphere in our home, a lovely host family, they are generous people who are always ready to help and I’m really comfortable around them. It’s really great to live around people who care about you and experience a different way of living, a different food, learning a new language and trying to adapt to a new culture. Here I am again, feeling like home, I have all I need here!
Studying abroad is one of the best experiences a student can have! You learn using a different point of view and, sometimes, a different style of teaching and learning than in your home country. And visiting countries other than your own is extremely interesting and beneficial.
However, the most important part of having an international education is that it totally enhances your understanding of the world. Earlier, I had very poor knowledge about international issues but now it’s easier forme to adapt to new culture and respect other people despite their differences and the ability to work in cross-cultural teams and function in various environment and which will be useful throughout whole my life. Besides seeing places, I see how people differ in their ways of living, their way of talking, their way of interacting with each other and what is acceptable or not. I am very glad that I got this opportunity to experience all these things and improve my knowledge.
Study tour to Russia
The main purpose of the class trip was to work with Russian students at the school called Gymnasium 9. The project’s theme was “Culture similarities and differences” and the aim was to make a survival guide for meeting different cultures.
We started our journey on Monday. I was so excited because that was my first trip to Russia. When we arrived in the Murmansk airport, we spent a couple of minutes at immigration, and when everything was cleared, we went straight to the hotel that we were staying and remained there until Wednesday, before moving to our host families.
On the next day we finally went to the school to meet the students and carry out the main purpose of the trip. I was impressed by their hospitality and I believe Murmansk is quite similar to Haiti when it comes to how people interact. There are some similarities between the schools system there and in Haiti. For example; every students must get up when the teacher enters the class room, and there are many things considered to be impolite like asking a girl her age.
We introduced ourselves and they did the same. We were divided into groups in order to start working on the brochure, after that, we started playing some funny games. It surprised me because I didn’t expect them to be so friendly since it was our first meeting. It was very pleasant sharing ideas and thoughts about things with them. One of the funniest things was that we all had different opinions and point of view; it was a challenge because each one of us was trying to convince each other, but I suppose it’s normal since we all have different backgrounds. However, this did not prevent us from agreeing in the end!
On Wednesday after the school was over, we all packed our stuff from the hotel and moved to our host family. Each one of us was hosted by the parents of a student at the school. My host family was cool and I was comfortable. Although we had some language problems because none of the parents talked English, but we were able to communicate since the daughter translated.
Some of the students met after school to show us around the city, do shopping, go to restaurant, visit museums, visit an orphanage and give the kids presents, kids concert, laughing and getting to know each other better. One of the things I noticed most about the Russians was their pride in who they are, where they came from and what they have achieved! There are many museums even at the school, honoring their brave soldiers and even sailors who perished during the wars. The restaurants were very stylish too and they were quite expensive, also for the Russians.
All of these things that I’ve been learning helped me during the class trip to Murmansk and probably wouldn’t been able to carry out this great project work with the Russians student without my new knowledge about cultures and cultural differences. After all, I would probably been ignorant enough to believe the negative stereotype I used to hear about Russians people! Thankfully, I have been there and experienced their culture made me realize that all those comments were just stereotyping.
I thank you Project Haiti for all that you’ve done, both for me and for the Haitian people. You gave me the opportunity of having an international education which will be really useful throughout my whole life. I am working hard to make you proud!
– Jean Jimmy Louis