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Indonesian Exchange Student Enjoys Her Time At Taft

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Elsa on left

Elsa on left

Elsa on left

Jazzia Barrios, Reporter

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     Taft high school welcomes yet another student with open arms, Hadijjah (Ummini) Elsa, an Indonesian exchange student.

     Since arriving at Taft high school, Elsa has participated in math club every Tuesday as well as participating in marching band and going to competitions.

     “I’ve been here for 3 months. I love it here, especially the marching band because I was in there with the color guard team and it’s really cool,” said Elsa.

     Elsa has grown fond of the city and enjoys spending time there.

     “I really love it because in my city I came from is not really a big city even though it’s the capital of the province. It’s not really big city and we don’t really have skyscrapers,” said Elsa.

     Although Elsa doesn’t experience culture shock as much anymore, she admits there are many differences in school in Chicago compared to back home in Indonesia.

     “We use uniforms everyday and we have school from Monday to Saturday and we cannot choose our classes,” said Elsa.

     In order to come as an exchange student, Elsa had to apply for the program and her name would be put in a raffle. It’s almost a year and a half process.

     “They put my name in a link and all over the US can see my name,” said Elsa.

     When Elsa first mentioned the program, her mother was quick on turning her down, but eventually came around.

     “At first when I said I would apply for this program, my mom said ‘no you cannot go,’” said Elsa.

     Elsa lived with her older sister and her parents back home in the Borneo Islands in Indonesia. Since arriving to the US, Elsa has made many friends.

    “I know her through Mr. Nadig. I met her one day in the summer and he asked me if I wanted to show her around and we clicked and now she’s like my best friend,” said Kiomarie Rodriguez.

     Not only has she adjusted to her new Chicago lifestyle, Elsa has also improved her English immensely.

     “Her accent definitely isn’t as strong [compared to when she first arriving], she’s become accustomed to society here,” said Rodriguez.

     Since arriving to Chicago, Elsa has had to learn to use the CTA system and become accustomed to the language.

     Learning the ways around a new city, especially a busy one such as Chicago, can be challenging. Elsa has had to learn her way around and adjust to her new lifestyle.

     “It’s not as much as a culture shock, she’s been here for so long now. She’s super used to it. It’s like her second home, she doesn’t even want to leave,” said Rodriguez.

    Meeting new people can be the hardest thing about a new place. Before the school year started, Rodriguez was asked if she could give Elsa a tour around the city.

     As first semester will soon come to a close, she will move from her current host family to her new host family, the Nadigs.

     Elsa plans to return home on June 7th, but is stopping in Washington DC June 5th to finish the final paperwork to go home.

     Elsa has learned to love life in Chicago and looks forward to the rest of her stay with another welcoming host family.

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Indonesian Exchange Student Enjoys Her Time At Taft