International students share perspectives

Foreign transfer students give a glimps into their thoughts.


Michael Pigin (left) and Ibrahim Chaudhry (right)

Daniel Robins, Staff Reporter

At Grayslake Central High School, there is a community of students who share a commonality;they immigrated to the United States from other countries. They can present a unique voice andperspective to the student body. Some of these students have decided to share some of their thoughts on living here and their own experiences.

Ibrahim Chaudhry

Freshman Ibrahim Chaudhry came to the U.S. three years ago from Pakistan. For Chaudhry, adjusting to life in the U.S. has been easy. “I haven’t really encountered difficulties besides the fact that people think I can’t speak English when I can,” says Chaudhry about his experiences of becoming accustomed to living in the U.S..

When coming to school in the U.S., Chaudhry first noticed a major difference. ”The biggest difference is the focus on education and nothing else in Pakistan. But here in the U.S., there is also a big focus on sports as well, ̈ Chaudhry said about his observation on cultures around the school.

Chaudhry explains that a typical school day in Pakistan is significantly different from the typical day of a U.S. school. ̈There [in Pakistan] you sat in a room and studied for six hours without any breaks.”

Chaudhry explains that he was surprised to see the physical differences of the U.S. compared to Pakistan too. “My first impression was that everything is so easy here compared to Pakistan.There are rarely ever any traffic jams, and everything is relatively very clean most of the time.”

Though he likes it in the U.S., he expresses how much he misses his family and friends back in Pakistan and events like Eid al-Fitr , a religious holiday of the Islamic faith that celebrates the idea of sacrifice for one’s faith.

Michael Pigin

Sophomore Michael Pigin came to the U.S. from Ukraine in November of 2019. For him, this is not the first trip to the states, but now living here has been a difficult transition to switch out of the vacation mindset into the mindset of permanent residence.

“The first month you can’t even realize what was happening. You’re thinking that you’re going to come back home, and it’s still going to end. It’s like a dream. Right after that, comes the realization of everything that you grew up with is there, and you’re here,” Pigin said about adjusting to living here.

When it comes to cultural differences, Pigin says the U.S. is a lot more friendly and informal than in Ukraine. At school, Pigin has noted some similarities to the school systems. “School [in Ukraine] starts at 8:30 a.m., so it’s not too early.It’s basically pretty much the same.” Pigin also explained that there are some differences. Students in Ukraine take 12 classes in a block schedule, and students only attend through 11th grade in Ukrainian schools.

Pigin likes the American school system because it is easier to balance academics and extracurriculars by taking fewer classes. ‘’I think, personally, it’s better, because you’d have a better understanding of specific classes, like you just have six specific classes.” Pigin explains that in Ukraine there is much more information, so it is harder to keep good grades, friends, relationships, sports and more.