Emerson Says Goodbye to Exchange Student

Christian Hirth

It’s not common to have a student from abroad come to school for a full school year in America, and it is especially uncommon in such a small town the size of Emerson. Despite there being an average of 700,000 exchange students in the U.S. a year, and being located less than 10 miles away from New York City, Emerson rarely ever gets any. However, Emerson was lucky enough to have the privilege to welcome an exchange student from the Republic of Georgia for the 2022-23 school year. 

Mariam Bulia is a student from the Republic of Georgia, on the border of Asia and Europe. She came to Emerson in July 2022 as a Georgian-U.S. exchange student and has had the opportunity to explore a new environment on another continent, in a New Jersey suburb of New York City, for a once-in-a-lifetime chance to have the experience of her life. Sadly, she left just before Emerson’s school year ended, but before she left, I had the chance to talk with her about her time here in America.

Prior to leaving for America, what was your daily life like in Georgia?

My daily life back in Georgia was quite busy. I had school, extra classes, volunteering activities, dance/band rehearsals every day, so I would come at around 11 p.m every day exhausted. My daily life here in the U.S is the same but the difference is that everything is in one space, at school. Another thing that I didn’t have experience of in Georgia are the sports. This year sports really took a lot of time from my schedule but it was worth it because I was exposed to something I’ve never done before. 

What made you want to come here?

myself ?

What did you expect you would experience in America? Did those expectations come true? Did anything here surprise you?  

Everything I thought I would experience in the U.S came true, things like going to school in my pj’s, eating in the classes, using Chromebook’s to do my homework (in Georgia we don’t use electronics in school), also changing classes every period.  The thing that really surprised me is the food portion sizes.

Did you find yourself having a sense of culture shock when you got here? What was it? 

Yes, of course. I think the first culture shock I had was saying the pledge of allegiance every day at the school. We never do that in Georgia and it was surprising in a good way.

What do you think are the biggest differences between Georgian and American cultures? 

This is a very broad topic and choosing one specific is a little bit hard but I would say holiday traditions. 

What are some things that you’ve done in Emerson? What do you consider your favorite things you’ve done here? 

I engaged myself in every possible school activity, joined different rent clubs, became a member of the NHS, etc. I really wanted to use this time and expose myself to everything. 

How has studying abroad impacted your life?

It changed my mindset and gave me the opportunity to see myself in different perspectives and that helped me to understand who I am as a person now and how I can change for the better

Do you plan on ever coming back? 


What do you plan on doing later in life, if you’ve decided? 

I’m planning to take a gap year and get ready for colleges in Europe/America. During the gap year I’m planning to travel as much as I can throughout Europe to gain more experiences which will be beneficial for my applications for universities.