Humans of Annandale: Gizela Gunin


I am an exchange student from Estonia. I decided to take a year abroad because I wanted to be fluent in English, but I have learned a lot more than just a language while being here. Being an exchange student teaches you about building friendships, taking responsibility for yourself, respecting differences, and tolerating the beliefs of others.
I would not say that America is better or worse than Estonia, just very different. The biggest differences are the education system, the way people communicate and manners.

There weren’t any big challenges in becoming an exchange student. Of course, I miss my friends, because they were like a family to me and it’s hard to get to know people here. The weirdest thing to me is the small talk that Americans do. I always forget to ask “How are you?’’ and so on. I have also noticed that people expect you to be overly friendly which is hard for me because in Estonia we aren’t that polite and don’t show our emotions.
School is way different in America. Estonian schools are stricter, teachers are not as nice, students are much more respectful, lessons are harder, we have a lot more homework, and we can’t choose our classes. I like that American teachers are so friendly and warm, it makes me feel more welcome.

I live with Ms. Miller, the IB Anthropology teacher. If I am being honest I enjoy living with her more than with my family in Estonia because I feel more welcomed. I think she is an interesting character and makes me a better person. I feel like I got the best host family, they fit with my personality and mindset.
I don’t know what I want to do in the future. I want to get to know myself more and find something that I am passionate about. The only thing that I can focus on right now is trying out different things. There is no right or wrong life path but there are too many opportunities for me to decide who I want to become as a human.