Oakman High welcomes exchange student

By NICOLE SMITH
Posted 11/15/19

OAKMAN — Belen Monleon-Gomez, a native of Spain, is spending the 2019-20 school year as an exchange student at Oakman High School.

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Oakman High welcomes exchange student

Posted

OAKMAN — Belen Monleon-Gomez, a native of Spain, is spending the 2019-20 school year as an exchange student at Oakman High School.

Gomez received a scholarship to study in America and when she arrived in Oakman in August, she was immediately surprised by the size of the town, but not in the way one might expect.

"I thought everything was very big because I am used to walking everywhere, and now I have to go by car and ask people to drive me," she said in comparison to Spain, where she relies on public transport for traveling longer distances.  

Gomez has been welcomed at Oakman, and she has immersed herself in various school activities. She has been volunteering to help the school's band with any needs they may have this football season, and she will soon be playing violin in the concert band.

She is also an active member of Oakman's yearbook staff. 

"It's a small school, so everybody was happy to have a new student," she said. "They were really receptive and asking me questions, and it was easy to make friends."

Gomez has had to acclimate to only having four classes each school day, instead of six like she has in Spain, and she's had more assignments and tests in America. She also isn't allowed a lunch period at her school in Spain; rather, students only get to enjoy a snack time.

Thanks to her host family, Gomez has had the opportunity to travel to Massachusets during her time in the United States. She visited Salem and Harvard University, among other sites.

During her time in Walker County, Gomez said changing her diet has been an adjustment. In Spain, she said the food is prepared with a lot of olive oil, and rice and vegetables are commons staples.   

"I've never ate so much Mexican food without living in Mexico," Gomez said of her time in Alabama, "and a lot of hamburgers."

Gomez said she is enjoying her time in America and is thankful to Oakman High librarian Monica Brown for helping her to be more comfortable in her new surroundings.

"She has a lot of energy. She explains a lot of things for me that I don't understand, and she makes me participate. It's fun," Gomez said.