NHS welcomes foreign exchange students

Avery Chick

Submitted photo

Danish student Mads Svensson is a Newcastle High School exchange student this year. He is involved in football and soccer. Paula Linke, not pictured, is also a foreign exchange student at NHS this year.


Avery Chick

NLJ Intern


For the past couple of years, Newcastle High School has hosted foreign exchange students from every corner of the earth. In the past, the school has welcomed newcomers from the Netherlands and even Korea. 

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, however, NHS was unable to continue its contract with the Education First program for the duration of the global shutdown. However, with the school year returning to some semblance of normalcy, NHS’ ability to host new students from foreign countries has also improved. Typically, kids who go through an exchange year enter the U.S. education system as a high school senior. The only drawback is that credits earned during this exchange year often don’t transfer back to the student’s home education system. For example, an exchange student may be age 16 and still be a senior by our standards and then return to whatever equivalent “grade” they would be in back home. 

This year, NHS welcomed two new students. Paula Linke hails from Germany. She was excited to experience an exchange year, mostly for the experience. The other student, Mads (pronounced similar to “mess”) Svensson, is from Denmark. He said  that he  wanted to experience something new and get out of his comfort zone. Both Linke and Svensson said they were eager to see what the U.S. had to offer as a typical American high school experience. Both also said they were not afraid to get on the horse and join clubs/activities upon their arrival. Linke joined the volleyball team and is thinking about pursuing soccer as well. Svensson joined the football program when he arrived. 

“Mallo with jet lag isn’t as fun as it sounds,” he said. 

Svensson has also shown passion for soccer, which he played in his home country. Currently, he is playing for coach Matthew Gormas in his indoor soccer program and has said that he can’t wait to join the high school team. 

Linke and Svensson both speak excellent English and are personable. Students who interact with them daily confirm that they are very friendly. 

Svensson lives with Ryan and Sarah Whipple, while Linke is staying with Nicole and Eric Kregel. 

Both students have noticed differences between U.S. culture and that of their home countries.  Svensson remarked on the richness of American food. 

“I’ve gained about 15 pounds since arriving because of all the options I get to choose from for a meal,” he said.

Both have said that they are enjoying their stay, and, if given the choice, would stay beyond their allotted time. “There are definitely things that I miss about home, but I love the people here, everyone is so nice,” Linke said.

Overall, the EF program appears to have a lot to offer young teens looking to experience cultural exchanges and gaining real-life experience before adulthood. 



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