Student Spotlight

Senior flies from Denmark to join Cardinal flock


Isabella Vanggaard poses for a photo while sightseeing with her host family.

Chloe Walton, Social Media & Graphics Editor

Imagine leaving everything behind to go to school for a year in a new country. Well, that is what 15-year-old Isabella Vanggaard did. While she is the age of a sophomore, Isabella is classified as a senior at MHS as is the custom with foreign exchange students.

Isabella, also known as Bella, is originally from a small town in Denmark called Odense. She came to the United States as a foreign exchange student in August to live with her host family and attend school here in the USA.

A foreign exchange student is a secondary-school or college student who studies for a period, usually one year, at a foreign institution as part of a reciprocal program between two institutions or countries.

The experience of an exchange student is unlike any other. Students, usually aged 15-18 years old, get to travel to another country, live there to attend school and learn the culture. When foreign exchange students come to America, they are assigned a host family to live with.

“I love them [my host family],” Bella said. “They are very nice and they already feel like family, which is kind of weird, but it helps having a really good family.”

One of the negative sides of this exchange program is that students have to go months without seeing their family and friends in person.

“It was hard to leave my family and friends behind,” Bella said. “I was homesick for like three weeks. I also have a boyfriend back home, so that’s even harder.”

In addition to her native language, Danish, Isabella has been learning English since fourth grade.

“I’ve just always spoken English and watched English movies, and it has always come very naturally,” Isabella said.

She has observed quite a few differences between the USA and Denmark.

“It is very different here,” Bella said. “Everything is very big here and the people are very different, and the heat…I don’t know a single thing I can compare it to back home.“

In comparison to schools in Denmark, Isabella said the schooling is very different here.

“We have like 700 students [total], a tiny school, we go to school from 8 a.m.-2 p.m.,” Bella said. “We have a lot of breaks, and we don’t have any electives or anything. We don’t have school spirit like you have here. School is very, very different here. It is very much a part of your life.”