Global Initiatives
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Of the World: Q&A with ASSIST Scholars

Lia Chilaru ’22, Moldova

What has your experience been like as an international student at Tower Hill?
So far I can say that my experience at Tower Hill has been a great one considering the circumstances like COVID. I am amazed by what the Tower Hill community has done to keep us in school and give us the opportunity to experience in-person learning at an American high school. Even though we don’t get to experience like the American dances and things like that, we are still getting the gist of what American life would be like if COVID wasn’t happening. I really enjoy being a part of the Tower Hill community. If I was living here permanently, I would want to attend Tower Hill.

What has your experience with academics been like?
It’s a really enjoyable experience. The relationship with the teacher isn’t as strict as back home. You’re more free to tell your opinion and let everyone know what you think. There’s a lot of freedom in expressing yourself. At the same time I would say you’re not even noticing that you’re getting the information that you are. It’s an enjoyable way to get to learn stuff, because you don’t even realize you’re learning. I experienced that with history back home I would have to put in a lot of effort to learn my history lesson outside of school because the teacher wasn’t making it interesting.
What has your experience with sports and clubs been like?
We don’t have sports and clubs back home. You come to school, you go to your classes and then you’re off to do your things. Sports has been a really interesting opportunity. If people back home were given that option, maybe people who were not as prone to do well academically would have another option for doing something well. Even for being in shape, it’s good. It gives you a feeling of feeling good in your body and seeing that you’re capable of stuff. You can demonstrate to yourself that you can push your limits. Clubs have been a really good experience to bond with people and meet people who are not in your classes.

What would you say to an international student about attending  Tower Hill?
Tower Hill is a community that has a lot to offer you as a student and as a future international adult. You get a good education here. Maybe it’s different from your own country, but that can be a really eye-opening experience. You get to motivate yourself to push through the difficulties to make everybody proud of you and yourself proud of you. It’s not going to be as easy as everybody thinks; there will definitely be ups and downs. Being away from your family and friends is challenging, but the Tower Hill community is so warm and welcoming, and that makes it better.

What would you say to encourage a student to study abroad?
Just do it. This has provided me with an educational experience that is going to have good consequences for life as an adult and it’s going to open so many doors for me that maybe if I stayed back home would be closed forever.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I would say a big thank you for ASSIST for giving me the opportunity of coming to Tower Hill and coming to America. I was supposed to go to a Canadian school at first, and they declined because they didn’t want an exchange student during a pandemic.Tower Hill was the one that opened the doors and gave us hope to come here. You get a lot of open doors—that’s what Tower Hill gave me and that’s what Tower Hill gives every student who comes here. You get to experience a high quality education that gives you a better perspective on life.

Timothy Lockhart ’23, Germany

What has your experience been like as an international student at Tower Hill?
It’s been very interesting. It’s nice to get to know a new culture. America is widely popularized in Europe, but it’s very different here in person. We know a lot about high school in America from movies, but it’s not the same as it is in real life, so it’s been interesting so far. I’ve never been to high school in America before, and it’s very different than I would have expected. The people are extremely nice compared to Germany, and I would say they’re more outgoing.

I would definitely say that the Tower Hill community is very supportive. If you don’t understand something you can always just ask, and I think that’s very important. You also always feel welcomed. You never feel that this isn’t the right place for you. You’re always part of the community. That’s very important. Of course the academic level is high, and there’s lots of different opportunities you get, whether it’s clubs or any hobby you have you can do here somehow—they make it possible. It’s a great program academically. And with athletics there are three different seasons where you can try three different sports.

Why did you decide to study internationally?
I got the idea from a friend of mine whose brother studied in Canada, and that was the first time I had heard about it and actually knew someone who did a year abroad. I just liked the idea to go somewhere. It was kind of like a new adventure. I definitely wanted to improve my English. It’s just been a life-changing experience. I’ll remember this year for the rest of my life. That alone is enough of a reason to go.

What are some of the benefits of the homestay program?
Well compared to a boarding school, I think it’s easier to learn the culture when you’re staying with a family. Christmas movies, for example. A lot of Christmas movies in America we don’t have in Germany, so that kind of tradition was new. In general it’s interesting to see how a family lives, and I think it’s very different depending on which part of America you live in. It’s just easier and a better way to learn the culture with a host family than if you’re on your own at a boarding school. 

What has your experience with sports and clubs been like?
I did football in the fall, and now I’ve started swimming. I’m really glad we still had a football season. I really enjoyed the team feeling. I swam in Germany, and it’s not really a team sport, so that was nice about football. I also got to know the people better. It’s like a community. In general the school is a much stronger community than my school in Germany because we spend so much time together. I spend most of my day from Monday to Friday in school, whether it’s athletics or academics.

American football was a new concept to me. I didn’t realize how much it involved watching and remembering plays—I thought it was more “tackle the guy and that’s it.” There’s a lot more brain involved than I thought. I was interested in football, and I also thought, If I’m in America I might as well play football because there’s no other country I can do it in.