Gabriel Roldan Barrios from Mexico: Studying in the 10th grade at The Northwest School in Seattle

Gabriel Roldan Barrios from Mexico: Studying in the 10th grade at The Northwest School in Seattle

Why did you decide to attend boarding school in the USA?

I had studied at the same school in Mexico since kindergarten. I felt like I had reached my potential as a student, a person, and an athlete and I wanted to challenge myself.  When the opportunity arose to apply to The Northwest School after 9th grade, I took it.

Why did you choose The Northwest School?

My aunt recommended The Northwest School and it instantly caught our attention because of its location in Seattle, excellent reputation, and the boarding program for international students. The school’s academic program is rigorous and diverse. I would be able to try things I had never tried before, like art classes and competitive athletics.

What do you like best?

The school community! It is awesome! The community made me feel so welcome that I soon considered it part of my family.

What do you miss most?

My family and Mexican food.

How has this program helped you to handle future study at a U.S. university?

I have been studying at The Northwest School since September 2015. At first, my English was awkward, but since I am around non-Spanish speakers most of the time, it has improved really fast. Studying at The Northwest School has helped me better understand the U.S. educational system. I feel that now it will be much easier for me to get into a U.S. university and succeed in my studies.

What was your biggest surprise?

That there is always something to do, whether it is school, sports, community service or something else, you are always busy. It helps you grow academically and personally. It’s busy, but it’s also a lot of fun.

... your biggest disappointment?

Sometimes people seem preoccupied with their own stuff or problems and forget to focus on the good things that are happening around them. I have learned that the best way to handle this is to stay positive and the people around you will get your positive attitude.

How have you handled:

... language differences?

The best way to deal with language differences is to relax. I knew that my English was fairly good, but due to my own nervousness it was hard to express myself at the beginning. I just reminded myself to be relaxed and that it is okay to make mistakes. It was also the school community that helped me a lot. Everybody made me feel so welcome that my nervousness disappeared quickly.

... adjusting to a different educational system?

This was tough at first. It was a completely different system, so I spent extra time with teachers and peers to make sure I was doing things correctly. It took me about two months to figure out how everything works.

What are your activities?

The Northwest School has lot of extracurricular activities. It offers over 50 arts classes, you can take trips to the mountains, go kayaking and camping, take Skybus, or take part in community service projects. There are many student associations, interest groups and sports.

How easy or difficult was making friends?

It is very easy. People are usually very interested in other cultures and, because of that, they will ask you a lot of questions. Often, this opens doors to many conversations and you can start making friends. Sports, clubs, and interest groups also let you engage with other students.

What will you remember most?

Everything! I seriously do not think there will be a specific part I will remember the most. Everything will stay in my memory for the rest of my life. I consider going to The Northwest School as one of the best decisions I have made in my life and couldn’t be happier.

What is your advice to other students who are considering a studying in the USA?

Just do it! It will be one of the best experiences in your life and you will not regret it. Trust me. The only advice I can give you is to not worry about making mistakes with the language; people understand and won’t make fun of you, so just relax. Stay in touch with the place you come from, or bring something that connects you with your family. It is important to remember where you come from so you can enjoy this experience even more.

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