For this month's foreign exchange highlight, Panni Lida Balogh was chosen to be interviewed. Originally from Hungary, Balogh prefers to be called her middle name, Lida (Lee-duh). Since Balogh has made such a life shift, she was asked about how the academic system at Bonneville High School (BHS) compares to the one in Hungary. Balogh replied: “You have a schedule, but you don't choose it… here you can choose so many classes it was shocking to me.” The students in Hungary receive their schedule with no chance to alter it. The class sizes are significantly smaller; typical classes usually range in the teens. Balogh mentioned that while in Hungary, “[she] had one [classroom]. Students either stay in one class for the whole day or follow the assigned schedule. Balogh emphasized that schooling here is more well rounded and flexible because the students can choose what they want on their schedule.
Not only do the academics differ in her home country, but sports do as well. When Balogh was asked about her athletic history, she stated “In Hungary [she] did track and field for five or six years… [she] was very serious about it. [She] wanted to grow up and go elite.” Early in life, Balogh found her love for track and field, and she wanted to continue her running career in Hungary. Even though Balogh felt she had to be perfect to become elite, she continued the sport because “[she] never really felt enjoyment” anywhere else. However, her time on the track did not last forever. In the end, she needed to quit because “[the environment] was toxic.” Her love for track never faded, and she is planning on joining the Bonneville track team.
Outside of academics and sports, Balogh discussed a few differences between Hungary and her current home. When the end of December rolls around in Hungary, the students enjoy Christmas break for two weeks. For participating families in the United States, Christmas is usually celebrated on the 25th; however, Hungary honors the holiday a bit differently. Balogh announced that her family celebrates on “the 24th in the night [to] have dinner then open gifts.” The 25th is reserved for visiting relatives. In Eastern Idaho, the winter is characterized by heavy snowfall, while Balogh stated that “the weather in Hungary is very mild, so [she] never [saw] snow. Bologh was completely shocked when she first saw snow because it is rarely seen in Hungary.
Life as a foreign exchange student requires flexibility, open mindness, and curiosity. Living in Idaho so far, Balogh has been able to experience frigid weather and typical American school days. Wish her luck for the upcoming track season and remainder of the school year!
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