Q&A: Students reflect on their lives abroad


Sophia Weis

Cultures can differ drastically from country to country. Three CHS students come from Canada, Germany, India, and Japan.

Transitioning to life in the U.S. from living abroad is a difficult endeavor. These Carlsbad students have traveled to California from all over the world and are able to compare their lives in America to their lives in other countries such as Canada, Japan, Germany, and India. 

Ella Paustenbaugh

Courtesy of Ella Paustenberg

Lancer Link: What country are you from?

Ella Paustenbaugh: I’ve lived in Japan and Germany. 

LL: How long did you live in Japan and Germany? 

EP: I lived in Japan for 2 years (2-3rd grade) and I lived in Germany for 3 years (5-7th grade). 

LL: What were the most unique thing about living in those countries? 

EP: I really loved the architecture and the way people did things. Like in Germany, most people stayed inside on Sundays because it was known as a family day, and people were very respectful there. They also had the best Christmas markets where we went around and saw decorations, food, and drinks. Oktoberfest was also a very unique part of Germany. Everyone dressed up in traditional clothing and dirndls [traditional skirt with waistband] and lederhosen and went to this fair-like event with rides, pretzels, and games. 

In Japan, it was super cool seeing how different it was compared to the U.S., but it also had some similar places like the dollar store (the 100 yen store). They had vending machines in each corner and they had such a cool culture. They had so many unique holidays and events. 

LL: What was the biggest culture shock for you moving back to the U.S.? 

EP: From what I remember, it was crazy seeing all the huge stores like Walmart and Target, because in Germany, the stores are much much smaller. It was [also] crazy seeing all the U.S. food places and stores like Chick-fil-a, In-N-Out, Walmart, Target, Costco because they don’t have any of those in Europe or Asia. It was also weird getting used to different places because the U.S. in general is much bigger than Europe. 

LL: How do you think living in another country impacted your life in the U.S. today? 

EP: I learned so much, got a lot of my slang, and just how I do things every day is from both of those countries. I also made some of my best friends there so it was super awesome. 

Rishab Bora

Courtesy of Rishab Bora

Lancer Link: What country are you from and how long did you live there?

Rishab Bora: I lived in India for four years, from the ages of 7-11.

LL: How do you think living in India has affected the way you live now in the U.S.? 

RB: It gave me a feeling of my culture and I’ve carried that culture and those traditions over to the U.S. to develop a sense of community, even though I may be thousands of miles away. It was very humbling, as life in India was obviously considerably harder than life over here, so it taught me how to be grateful for what I have. 

LL: What was the most interesting thing about living in India? 

RB: Learning about my own culture, meeting people, just learning the different way of life that happened over there, because obviously, life over here is different from life over there. It was really a great experience because I got to learn about how different people can live life. 

LL: What’s the most unique thing that’s different from America?

RB: I definitely believe that life in America’s a lot easier, in the sense that obviously there’s technology and stuff in India as well, but I do think it’s more organized [and] a little easier over here.  Education is definitely much better. I think that’s the biggest difference. 

LL: When you moved back did you experience a big culture shock compared to India?

RB: Yeah, I think so. I spent a lot of my vital years over there, and obviously, I used to live here before, but if you go anywhere for a long time, you kind of forget how life was over here. But I do think it was definitely much different than some things I was used to. Like the language, the vernacular was very different, so it just took some time to get used to.

Hanna Kaplan

Courtesy of Hanna Kaplan

Lancer Link: What country are you from and how long did you live there?

Hanna Kaplan: I’m from Canada. We lived there from when I was born (2005) till I was four (2009), so four years. 

LL: How do you think living in another country has impacted your life now, living in the U.S? 

HK: For me personally, I was only four when I moved to the States, so day-to-day life wasn’t much different in Canada than here in California. However, when it comes to my family, everyone lives in Toronto and it still is an adjustment today, given COVID, that I’m not able to just get on a plane and see them as I normally would. I went from living 5 minutes away from my extended family to moving 2,500 miles away, which was a severe impact. 

LL: What was the biggest culture shock that you remember, or you or your family experienced when moving to the U.S.? 

HK: I don’t think there was much of a culture shock for me but there definitely was for my mom. My dad is from California originally, but my mom was new to things such as medical coverage or insurance and such, alongside the overall lifestyle, especially in California.