Freshman Lucia Gomez Navarro was unsure of what she would be getting herself into when she accepted the opportunity to travel to a foreign country and attend the first semester of her freshman year of high school abroad, here at KO.
Lucia, or Lu as her friends call her, is originally from Venezuela, but moved in Madrid, Spain, where she normally attends the German School of Madrid. That’s right. Lu takes classes back home not in her native language of Spanish, but in German, which she has been speaking since she was two years old. Lu is also fluent in English, which she began learning four years ago at the age of ten.
Lu said it is common for European teenagers to study abroad as a way to perfect a foreign language; however, Lu decided to come to the U.S not only to strengthen her English, but also to open her mind to different cultures. “[I also want] to get to know totally new people that live in different societies,” Lu said. Studying abroad is the sort of experience, with all kinds of new and difficult adjustments, that many would shy away from. But Lucia, with her outgoing and brave personality, has been handling the life change with ease and fitting right in!
New to the Kingswood Oxford community, Lu got her first taste of student life at field hockey preseason practice. A skilled player, Lu earned herself a spot as one of only three freshmen on the varsity team. According to her, the team has been extremely welcoming and fun. “I feel that all of the girls on the team have been so open, friendly, and nice to me. I love it!” she said. Lu also feels the team has given her the chance to make close friends and even bond with girls in other grades.
On Aug. 19, Lu arrived in Connecticut and has been living with a host family ever since. She is only staying at KO for the first semester because her German school recommends not studying an entire year without speaking German, so sadly, she is returning home on Jan. 26.
In the mean time, Lu is fortunate to have another new member of the KO community, Spanish teacher Carolina Croes, to help her adjust. Mrs. Croes happens to be the lifelong best friend of Lu’s mother and has known Lu since she was just three weeks old, so it has been very beneficial to Lu to have someone close to her embarking on the same journey.
Mrs. Croes helped organize Lu’s opportunity to study at KO and is very happy that she is thriving at school. She said she feels that Lu’s situation is the quintessential chance for her to observe and learn about a new culture. “The more you know people from other cultures, the better you understand your own,” Mrs. Croes said. Although Lu has been adjusting very well, Mrs. Croes is curious to see how Lu will react when the harsh New England winter rolls around, as Lu has always lived in a sunny and warm climate. Both Lu and Mrs. Croes have remarked on how much KO cares about the well being of its students, something they really enjoy and value.
Academically, Lu is also impressed with KO and is thriving in her courses. She has taken up a fourth language, Chinese, and has been excelling in all of her classes. Although she said that at times it is difficult to understand what a teacher means when they speak fast, the work has not been a major challenge for Lu. The teaching style at KO is simply different than her previous school. “Here I have six subjects, and in my school, I have thirteen,” Lu explained. This somewhat lightened load, along with the provided free time and involvement in field hockey, has made for a really great experience overall.
The greatest challenge for Lu has been missing her friends and family back home, but with the relationships she has built in her time here, she said she is ultimately very happy she came.
Although KO will be saying “adiós” to Lu in January, Lu has become a great addition to the KO community and will be missed dearly!