Living in Washington is not entirely a foreign experience for exchange student Pilar Aliseda.
Aliseda is a Madrid native but is spending one year at Sequim High School as a student.
While living in Sequim on her own is a new experience, Aliseda grew up visiting her aunt and uncle in Bellevue when she was young.
“I have family here (in Washington)” Aliseda said.
“My uncle and aunt moved here almost 20 years ago, so we used to come in the summer and visit them when I was younger.”
She said living in Sequim has still been a big transition, but she ultimately chose to go to school in America because she had an idea of what it was like.
“I chose the US because I knew what it was like because of my family here,” she said.
She is likely the youngest of the exchange students at 15-years-old and is attending Sequim High School as a junior while she is a sophomore at school in Spain.
Aliseda said her schooling at Sequim High is easier than her classes in Spain, as many other exchange students have said, but she is enjoying her education in Sequim.
“It’s really different,” she said. “What I like is you don’t stay in the same class for the whole day; where I go it’s the other way around.”
At her school in Spain, Aliseda said she has 10-11 different classes and has less at Sequim High School. She said in Sequim she doesn’t have the same classmates in every class, but back home she has the same classmates every day.
Her favorite classes at Sequim High are cooking and photography because she said these are classes she wouldn’t normally get to take back home.
In her free time, Aliseda said she enjoys playing basketball and was part of the Sequim High School basketball team.
“I like playing basketball,” she said. “I play all year round (back home).”
She said it has been different playing with a new team but it has been a good experience for her to meet new people.
“For me I’ve always played basketball on my team (in Spain),” she said.
“It’s weird not playing with them but it was nice meeting new people and playing with them.”
She also played on the volleyball team at Sequim High School, which was her first time playing the sport, and is now learning how to play softball.
Aliseda said some of her favorite places to go in Sequim are Black Bear Diner for the food and she also enjoys playing sports and hanging out at the YMCA in Sequim.
She said Sequim is a much smaller town than she is used to compared to Madrid and the weather in Sequim is not what she would typically experience back home.
“For me, this is a really small town,” she said.
“The weather is really different; where I live it doesn’t rain much and it almost never snows.”
She said she has been speaking English for a long time but it was still an adjustment to get used to the accent here.
“It’s still hard to come to a place where what they speak is not your first language,” she said.
In the future, Aliseda said she is not sure what her plans are but she knows she does want to come back and visit her family in Bellevue as well as her host family in Sequim.
“I like it here and I think I’m going to try and come visit my host family and friends here,” she said.
“I’d like to travel (more) in America to see what it’s like in other places.”
Reach Erin Hawkins at firstname.lastname@example.org.