DIXFIELD — Marcel Secio wanted to find all kinds of new experiences when he applied in his home country of Germany to become a foreign-exchange student in the United States.

With just three months in the U.S. at Dirigo High School, the 16-year-old has found more than he could have hoped for.

“The United States has always fascinated me. I want to learn how other people live,” he said Tuesday afternoon as he described his experiences with the three other foreign exchange students attending Dirigo this year.

So far, he has gone out for wrestling, something he could never do in Germany. He won a match and is hoping to get to the championship and maybe bring home a trophy.

“It’s good being part of a team,” he said.

Giane Gali, 17, from Brazil, said the small town and cold weather was kind of a shock to her at first, but now she really enjoys the school and the people. She plays soccer at home, so decided to join the soccer team at Dirigo. She also went out for cheering.

She saw a deer in the wild, something she had only seen in zoos back home, she said.

And she loves her host family, Mary and Jack Kaubris of Rumford.

“I have the perfect host family. I love them,” she said.

Jiranun Jintasathaporn, 17, from Thailand, thinks most of the food is quite bland or too sweet. But she discovered some incredibly hot buffalo wings that were even too hot for her.

She also loves Walmart and pizza.

Also from a large city, Jiranun was at first somewhat taken aback by the small town atmosphere, but now she finds it “awesome.”

When an early snow fell in October, she fell in love with it.

“That was the first time. It’s amazing. I can step on it, eat it, walk with bare feet in it,” she said.

She plans to really give snow a try by going out for skiing later this year.

Shuang Wu, 15, from China, has discovered that school work is much easier in the United States than in China.

She, like Marcel, wants to travel and experience new things.

“I’m dreaming of traveling around the world. America is the first,” she said.

Not having lots of stores and public transportation here is a lot different from back home. But after a few weeks, she got used to it.

“Now it’s OK. The air is so fresh and it’s so quiet,” she said.

Shuang also has two host sisters, both much younger than herself. As an only child back home, at first it was tough getting used to it, but now she thoroughly enjoys them.

“They are so funny. It’s nice to have little sisters,” she said.

All four students are happy in their host homes. Shuang lives with Meagan and Danny Eggert of Dixfield; Jiranun lives in Dixfield with Jamie and Scott Dennett; and Marcel lives in Carthage with Ronnie and Warren Hutchinson.

“They are like a second family. They grow to you so fast,” Marcel said.

Although all four students said schoolwork is easier here than in their home countries and that the food is sometimes too greasy, they all agreed that people in the U.S. are very friendly and nice.

“Everyone helped me out and accepted me really quickly,” Marcel said.

“There are no mean people.”


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