By Emma Zhou '24
Whether you are only a few hours away from Boston or from an entirely opposite time zone, it’s ok to be intimidated by being an international student here at Lawrence Academy. But don’t worry. There are plenty of resources to help you make Lawrence Academy your new home.
I’m from Singapore and China, and this is my 3rd year boarding at LA. When I first moved in my freshman year, apart from the jetlag, one of the challenges I faced was a culture shock. Even though I attended an international school in Singapore, I was not used to the community here and even felt doubt about my English abilities. Despite the initial isolation I felt, the local students in my grade were very welcoming, and by hanging out with them more, they taught me the ways of living in the US. As far as I’ve been here, I’ve never felt distanced from the domestic students. At LA, I feel like the international population is very well integrated into the local community. In my first year, pushing myself to go out of my comfort zone to try unfamiliar things helped me grow a lot at Lawrence Academy.
We also offer support systems and platforms that consist of student leaders and teachers that are safe spaces for international students. During orientation, international students move in earlier to go through two days of orientation led by international student leaders. Throughout those days, students learn the LA lingo, discuss culture shock and go on a trip to Walmart to shop for anything they are missing from their dorms. This is also a great way to socialize with other international kids. During the school year, new international students are assigned to an international student leader with whom they can talk about anything, from schoolwork to making friends. There are also faculty at our school that specialize in international students. They help navigate student visas and are also a resource to talk to about anything for international students.
One of the perks of being an international student is participating in all the fun activities during the weekends and short breaks. We are only 45 minutes from downtown Boston, and there are shuttles almost every weekend to the train station. Furthermore, there are also activities made just for international students, such as cooking a good meal at a faculty’s apartment, an annual ski trip, and special care packages created just for them during exam weeks. Buses are going to places such as nearby food plazas, Walmart, and malls for those who want to stay near campus during the weekends. Lawrence Academy is in an excellent location, with many restaurants and shops within walking distance. There are several cafes and a very good Italian restaurant for anyone looking to have a casual walk downtown. For a nice meal out, there is a restaurant called Gibbet Hill Grill, featuring a high-end selection of American food.
Overall, my experience as an international student at Lawrence Academy has been extremely positive. From the support and the fun I’ve had here, it is a great environment for me to grow as a student.