Rockaway’s a Long, Long Way From Home


Last August, Wasaya Samransap, or “Neen” as she has been nicknamed, embarked on a voyage from her homeland of Thailand to the United States for the first time with very little knowledge of our customs or language. Now, as a Morris Hills sophomore, she reflects on her time here and the transition she made between the two countries.

Neen began to attend Morris Hills through a foreign exchange student program with the intention of learning English. On the first day of school, she experienced many difficulties due to being homesick, facing the culture shock, and being afraid to speak English. She also found it hard to sit through 90 minute classes as her classes in her school in Thailand were only 45 minutes long. However, the day here was shorter as it was only seven hours compared to the nine hour school day Neen had in Thailand.

Though learning English remained difficult for Neen, especially learning how to write and use grammar, she felt that staying here became easier over time as she began to improve her English and communicate with more people. Joining the fencing team especially helped her come out of her shell as she made many new friends, many of whom not only taught her how to fence, but also introduced her to slang words and parts of American culture that she had not been exposed to in Thailand, such as having sleepovers.

Overall, Neen has loved her experience at Morris Hills, even though it is colder here, and she does not eat rice every day, like she used to back home. She has also learned a lot, including not being afraid to make mistakes when learning a new language. She said she found it beneficial to just begin speaking even if she was not completely sure she was correct, and that people were usually able to understand and help her. Most importantly, Neen recognized that “the culture and language might be different, but the people are essentially the same.” She said, “If you are kind and make an effort, people will help you and make you feel welcome.”

Although she warns about the hardships of being away from home, Neen recommends becoming part of a foreign exchange student program to anyone who wants to “meet people from different places and expand their worldview.” As Neen is leaving after the school year ends, she will miss the many friends she made here and wishes to thank all the great people of Morris Hills who made her experience possible and better than she could have ever imagined.