Spanish exchange student leaving Stillwater

Carlos Mas Rigo is a foreign exchange student from Spain. He has been in Minnesota since August and goes back to Spain in June. He came here to learn more about the English language and the American culture.

At first, it was hard for Mas Rigo to get comfortable away from home and in a new country. At first he had some trouble with language barriers, but his understanding of English has grown exponentially. The culture in the United States is somewhat similar to Spain so that aspect was comforting to him when he first came. School was difficult for him at first because of his understanding of English was not very good, but as the year has progressed, he has become much more social and much more comfortable in the school setting.

As he has been here for a little over 9 months, he has gotten much better at understanding the language and communicating with people. Once he could communicate better with people, he began to become more social and more comfortable at home, school, and in other public places. Mas Rigo said learning the English language was very important to him, as well as learning about a new culture, which was the 2 main reasons he decided to join the foreign exchange program.

Host brother Cooper Hanson said, “At first, he was shy, but it was more due to a lack of English. As time has gone on, though, he has picked it up quickly. With all the new language he acquires, he becomes more likely to strike up a conversation himself.”

The culture in Spain is similar in that a lot of the same activities are done for fun. He enjoys doing the same things in Spain as he does in the United States. His favorite thing to do is play tennis. He played tennis in Spain and is on the tennis team at the school. Another thing the two cultures have in common is travel. It is very popular to travel around the country and to other countries in Spain as it is in the United States. Mas Rigo has been able to travel all over Minnesota with his host family, and also took a trip out to San Francisco for a week over spring break.

Mas Rigo said, “I play tennis because tennis is fun and it’s time to think about things. I started young, when I was 7 years old in Spain, and I played once a week. Here I play about 2 hours a day.”

The schooling system in Spain is different than the United States. In Spain, the teachers rotate classrooms when the hours change instead of the students, which means the students have the same people in their class everyday. Mas Rigo said he likes the United States system where the kids change classes every hour, so he can meet new people and have different people in every hour. School has been a place where he has really learned a lot about the American culture through classes and social interactions throughout the day.

He’s grown academically and socially, there is definitely a maturity that I’ve seen.”

— Matthew Kiedrowsk

History teacher Matthew Kiedrowski said, “He’s become a much more diligent, attentive student. I saw a more openness throughout the semester to share his viewpoint of what it’s like to be from another country.”

Mas Rigo has learned many new things, experienced many new things, and will take home many great memories. He accomplished his goal of learning about a new culture and learning a new language. He got to experience a completely different schooling system and live with a completely different family, which is something not many people can say they have done. Mas Rigo has enjoyed everything about his time here so far and hopes to have a great last few months.

Kiedrowski said, “He’s grown academically and socially. There is definitely a maturity that I’ve seen.”