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Who we think we are and who we may actually be

Foreign exchange students weigh in on Seattle culture

Grace Harmon, Staff Reporter
Originally published February 12, 2015

Seattle’s stereotype of being filled with friendly, computer-using, pot-smoking hippies may have some truth to it. To the eye of someone born and raised in Seattle, our city is just our rainy home with debatably poor public transportation.

However, the lifestyle we’re used to can be foreign and unique to people from other countries. Ballard’s exchange students, the majority of which are from Europe, offer their perspectives on the varieties in our lives and values.

Americans are seen as having a stereotype of being gregarious, overly talkative, and lacking in social boundaries. However, this societal trait may offer a more positive experience to those visiting from abroad. “I’ll miss the open and outgoing nature of people I’ve met here,” junior Ezgi Karakoc, a student from Germany, said. “I don’t know if I would’ve had such a positive experience here without it.”

The difference in our community may extend past simply how talkative we are. “There’s a much more open mentality here,” senior Stefano Paderi, an Italian exchange student, said. “People care about who you are, not just what people see about you. In Italy, people are more concerned with reputations and what is said about someone.”

Alternatively, our dependence on and heavy use of technology may not seem serious, but through an outsider’s experience it hinders our lives. “People here are so addicted to technology, it’s crazy,” Karakoc said. “It seems like instead of enjoying things as they happen, they just post them online.”

In addition to a difference in use of social media and electronics, Seattle kids are also perceived to use more drugs. “Teens here don’t take it as seriously,” Paderi said. “Smoking marijuana is more normal here, people do it often and casually and parents and police care less than they do in Italy.”

Our education system shows another difference in our daily lives. Students in Seattle Public Schools typically have a set number of classes they attend in different classrooms, with the same schedule each day. However, for many adjusted to different class systems, this is odd. “In Italy, you don’t change classes, your different teachers come to your classroom,” Paderi said.

A praised quality of BHS and Seattle is our school pride. “I’ll miss the spirit we have,” senior Eliot Vasse, a French exchange student, said. “Students in France don’t care about their school or community, but here kids have passion for their community.”

Overall, the Seattle characteristics of being warm, tech-using, marijuana advocates are as prominent as would be assumed, but there may be both positives and negatives to our culture.

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Who we think we are and who we may actually be