Aneta and Benson

With a passion for traveling, these international students are going places

Norfolk Collegiate has more than a dozen new international students joining our Upper School family. To celebrate their journeys and further welcome them, the Oak Connection is sitting down with them once a month. The third article in the series features juniors Aneta Jurankova and Beiyu “Benson” Wang.

ANETA JURANKOVA

For Aneta, this is her first time studying abroad. 

What city do you call home? 
Prague, Czech Republic

Why did you decide to study abroad?
For college, it’s important to know languages, especially being able to work on my English skills. (In addition to speaking Czech, Aneta also speaks English, German and some Slovak). 

What’s been the biggest difference between your school back home and Norfolk Collegiate? What’s been the hardest thing to adapt to here? 
It’s so different. The subjects are different. Here, I have seven classes. Back home, I have 14 classes. The teachers are friendlier here. The school day is also between eight and 10 hours back home. I like my schedule in Prague because I get to do different classes each day.

What activities and sports are you doing while here at Norfolk Collegiate? 
Here, I played volleyball and am playing basketball now. I love basketball. It’s my favorite sport. Back home, I love skiing and swimming. We don’t have sports for a season like you do here. Instead, we play the sport for the whole year.

With the holidays almost here, is there anything that you do back home in way of celebration that you’ll miss while here in the states
We don’t start celebrating at the beginning of December like you do here. We start on December 15 and celebrate on December 24. On the 24th, we open our presents and everything. I miss the candies. We don’t do cookies, but we do eight different kinds of candies, which I’m going to make for my host family. 

Was this your first visit to the states? If so, what are some places that you’ve visited that you’ve enjoyed? 
I went to New York City, and it was beautiful. I like big cities. Broadway and Times Square were my favorite places in the city.  

Where would you like to visit before you return home?
I love traveling. My biggest dream is to go to California – anywhere in California – probably because of how it is in the movies.

What do you miss the most about home?
My family, my friends and my life. I was really homesick in the beginning, but now it’s OK. I would never admit to my brother that I like him, but I do miss him. He’ll send me a text and ask how I’m doing, and I like that. I also had more to do in Prague than here because of the public transportation.

BEIYU “BENSON” WANG

From Shanghai, China, Beiyu “Benson” Wang is a veteran among the international students at Norfolk Collegiate, having been at the school for two years already. 

Some students select American names. Why did you decide on Benson for your name?
I wanted something that started with a “B” like my name does, so I went on the Internet and found some American names that started with “B.” I saw Benson and thought it was a cool name.

Why did you decide to study abroad?
I decided to do it for many reasons. I chose America because of the freedom. China is communist and you don’t get a lot of freedom to talk about the government and politics. To help explain this, I will share a story of when I was in US History class and we learned about the Tiananmen Square protests. I had never learned about it, and it’s such an important piece of my country’s history. I called my dad that night to tell him about it and he asked how I learned about it. He said that he was told to never tell his children about it. I also would like to go to an American university, so this helps.

What’s been the biggest difference between your school back home and Norfolk Collegiate? 
The schedule – in China, school starts at 7 a.m. and you don’t go home until 5 p.m. Then, we have five hours of homework. Last year, I was shocked by how much time you have here to do things that interest you.

Are you participating in any activities and sports at Norfolk Collegiate? I play guard in basketball. I’m going to play tennis in the spring. I’m also in the Yearbook Club and in National Honor Society.

With the holidays almost here, is there anything that you do back home in way of celebration that you’ll miss while here?
Spring Festival. It’s similar to Christmas. One of the traditions that I miss during the festival is when your aunts and uncles give you red pockets. (The red pockets contain money and are a symbol of good luck for the coming year). I also miss the moon cakes from the Mid-Autumn Festival. My mom sent me some last year and I ate them all.

I understand that you’ve done some traveling while you’ve been here. Where are some of the places that you’ve traveled to? Are there any places that you still would like to visit?
Last year, I lived with a single man, so we would talk and travel a lot. I’ve been to New York, Niagara Falls, Washington, D.C., South Carolina, North Carolina, Houston, Florida and Philadelphia. Niagara Falls was amazing. I was blown away. I would like to visit Las Vegas. I’ve heard it’s really famous and want to go there. And maybe Los Angeles, too.

What do you miss the most about home?
My friends and family. Last year, my sister called me and said she missed me and wanted to know when I was coming home. When I was home, we fought every day.

Do you have a favorite memory from your time at Collegiate so far?
Last month, we (the basketball team) were playing a tournament, and we were missing two centers. So coach put me, in and I was freaked out. He told me to have fun and just pass the ball when it came to me. 

Are there any foods that you’ve tried since being here that you love or hate?
I love Philly cheese steaks. I don’t like sour cream – it tastes really weird.