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The Scroll

The Student News Site of Fargo North High School

The Scroll

The Scroll

Elisa Melin: Belgian Exchange Student at Fargo North

Elisa (middle) with her two younger sisters

We’ve had a lot of foreign exchange students attending Fargo North this year, with the Germans arriving in September and then leaving us a few weeks later. One student, however, is staying with us for the entire year.
Elisa Melin is a foreign exchange student from Belgium who lives just outside the capital, Brussels. She has two little sisters and a cat named Tigrou (which is French for “Tigger.”) After graduating from school in Belgium, Melin is now attending Fargo North as a senior for the rest of the school year.
Melin didn’t always want to come to Fargo as a foreign exchange student, or any country for that matter. “At first, I didn’t want to do it. It’s not that I was against that, I just didn’t want to do it. And then I had a foreign exchange student from Mexico in my class in my senior year, and I met him, and I was like, ‘That’s so cool! I’m gonna do it.’”
Having a little bit of individuality was also a reason for coming to the U.S. Doing something by herself, and “starting from zero,” as Melin stated, was very important. Elisa Melin is looking forward to creating new memories in a new, unfamiliar environment, and of course, being able to share her stories with her family and friends when she goes back to Belgium in July.
That being said, her family is still very important to Melin, and her relationship with them is very close, with Melin referring to her mom as her best friend. They even travel across the globe together and have visited Europe, Asia, South America, and Africa. Melin’s favorite trip she’s gone on with her family was to Mongolia, where they stayed with local families for three weeks, as well as Tanzania in Africa.
Travel is not only a family activity for Melin; it’s a big passion of hers, and her main goal in life is to incorporate travel in some way. Brussels, the capital of Belgium, is home to the headquarters of the European Union, and after her exchange in America, Melin hopes to go back to Belgium to study law. “I would like to be a lawyer for the European Union, or internationally, and maybe I will have a chance to travel with that job,” Melin explained.
As a foreign exchange student, Melin chose the U.S. as her most desired destination, with Canada, Argentina, Chile, and Italy following. Fargo, however, wasn’t somewhere she would have chosen; “ My first choice was the U.S.A. and they sent me here, but I couldn’t choose the state or the city– they just chose Fargo. I wouldn’t have chosen Fargo I think, but it’s nice.”
So far, the U.S. has been a little different for Melin, but nothing has been a bad surprise. She stated, “I would say that people talk to you a lot. Even if you don’t know them, they just come and talk to you and say nice things. In Belgium, if you don’t know the person, you’re never going to talk to them. It’s weird– the person’s going to look at you like, ‘Why are you talking to me?’ So it’s really different.”
For Melin, the food has also surprised her. “I did some research about the U.S.A. before coming here, so I knew a lot of things. But I would say that what surprised me the most was the food. I thought it was like– everybody [who] lives outside the U.S.A. thinks that you just eat fast food and stuff. And I realized absolutely not; that’s not true. It was a good surprise, actually, to find every type of food.”
School in Belgium has also been a little different. One class that Melin had the option to take in Belgium was Drama. Acting and playing characters on stage is a passion of Melin’s, and she’s been doing it since she was twelve years old. She was even in a theater group in Belgium, which is something she participated in for six years. Excluding Drama, there were a lot of classes that all students had to take, leaving few options for elective classes.
This year, however, some of the electives Melin is taking include Yearbook, Philosophy, French 4, and AP Statistics. Melin grew up speaking French, hence why she’s taking French this year, and the other electives offer some nice variety. For Philosophy, for example, she stated, “I really like discussing serious subjects and topics about life, and they told me that the teacher [Mr.] Dougherty was really nice.” Despite math not being one of Melin’s favorite subjects, Melin also decided to take A.P Statistics, as she wanted to try something more challenging and thought “having a little bit of everything” would be beneficial.
Besides Drama, Melin is also very passionate about music. Discovering new types of music and experimenting with many different genres is very enjoyable for Melin, and she spends hours each day listening to some of her favorite genres, such as Rock, Pop, and French Rap.
Despite the new environment, Melin is confident about her exchange and is looking forward to the experience. “I really appreciate [discovering] another culture. That’s really important to me– to discover new people, to meet new people, and create a lot of new relationships.” She also stated, “I’ve never been anxious about anything since I’ve been here. I’m really confident about this year.”
When asked if Melin wanted to say anything to the readers of “The Scroll,” she said, “I would say that I’m an open person. If somebody comes to talk to me, I would talk to them with pleasure. [Also], people should know that we don’t speak Belgian in Belgium. Because I’ve always had that question, and we just speak French and Dutch.”
We don’t have foreign exchange students at our school very often, so if you happen to find EliMelin in a class or the hallway, don’t be afraid to say hi. Talking with people who aren’t originally from the U.S. and who may have a different perspective is always valuable.

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Caleb Roth
Caleb Roth, Writer
Hi, my name is Caleb Roth and I'm currently a senior. This is my first year in Journalism, and I don't have much experience. But I'm really looking forward to learning and writing as much as I can for our newspaper. In my free time, I enjoy playing piano/drums, playing video games, and hanging out with my golden retriever, Forest.
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