BETHEL — Jose Artigues of Madrid, Spain, didn’t choose Western Maine as a place to become a foreign exchange student, but he’s pleased this is where he was placed.

“I’m glad I’m here. In a small town the people are very friendly,” he said.

Jose is finishing his high school career at Telstar High School, one of two foreign students now attending.

When he was younger, he spent a month in Rhode Island at Roger Williams College, where he met people from all over the world.

“It’s always been my dream to come to the United States. It is full of different cultures, and I like that,” he said. “I learn different points of view.”

Jose likes it so much here that he has already applied to several colleges in the United States where he wants to study business, economics or finance.

He also likes the classes at Telstar.

“The classes here are more practical than in Spain. We do lots of experiments,” he said.

Adan Rodriguez, 19, also wants to attend college in the United States.

He arrived in the Bethel area in March to live with his aunt and uncle, Luis and Sheny Chuga. He thought he’d attend THS as a GED student, but decided to enroll in high school so he could become better prepared.

When he first arrived, he thought it was pretty cold. But soon he found a group to play soccer with and that improved things.

He likes his classes, too, and believes he is learning more than he would have in GED classes or at home.

“I hope to graduate from here in June, then attend college in business or administration. But it has to have soccer,” he said.

He plans to start an indoor soccer program at the high school in January.

He’s thinking of applying to colleges in the United States, as well as in France, Germany or England that have both business administration and soccer programs.

“I have a dream to take Guatemala to the World Cup,” he said. “There’s not much opportunity in Guatemala. Everything is nice here.”

While Adan has been playing sports at THS, Jose is waiting until he gets his first-quarter grades and checks in with his parents. Then he wants to try cross-country skiing.

He lives with Tim and Debra Borshardt of Bethel.

“They are really nice and are always there to help,” he said.

Both young men are tutoring other THS students in Spanish, and Jose also tutors math. Both also really like the food in this country, particularly pizza.

Jose looks forward to becoming a big brother in the area’s Big Brothers Big Sisters program.

“It’s always been a dream to teach little ones. I’m quite excited about it. They are like little sponges,” he said.

He also likes the relaxed way people lead their lives in Maine.

“I love this country. It’s the first country for opportunity,” he said.

Both boys will make presentations to THS students about their countries in December.

They will also be joined by a third foreign student in January. At that time, Subin Jung, a 16-year-old from South Korea, will have completed a year at nearby Dirigo High School before coming to Telstar.

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