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Entering a Whole New World

Junior Alexis Walters Shares Her International Experience After Being in Multiple Countries Around the World

Photo by Leah Song/Maclay Andalusian

Imagine living on a quiet and peaceful island, talking to the native senior citizens and walking to the beach every weekend with family. Doesn’t that sound wonderful?

Born in Indiana, junior Alexis Walters moved to Saint Lucia in the Caribbean when she was six months old. She had spent her entire life on the island until she returned to the U.S. a few months ago. Walters has traveled across the globe, so moving back has been relatively easy for her, but she still experiences moments of unfamiliar events or even culture shocks.

“It [moving to America] wasn’t completely shocking because I’ve been to the States multiple times,” Walters said. “I think it was more shocking that I was used to everything.”

Walters’s previous school was international and the only private high school in the area with a very small enrollment size. Though not so common, it had students coming from other continents like Africa and Asia. Since there is only one college in Saint Lucia, a lot of students consider going to other islands in the Caribbean, America or even Europe to pursue higher education. Walters was definitely one of them, and now she hopes to go to Florida State University in Tallahassee.

“It [moving around different countries] can be fun, but at the same time it’s a lot to adjust to,” Walters said. “When I was in Saint Lucia, I had a lot of dream colleges like Princeton or NYU, but now that I’m in a place where there are colleges in town, I’ll probably do a [study abroad] program at FSU.”

Coming from a school with a British education system, Walters has been exposed to new classes, sports and other communities at Maclay. Since her previous school did not offer any sports, Walters enjoys that Maclay provides a variety of sports options and currently participates in the girls weightlifting team. In terms of education, even though the grading scale and the class pace are more challenging than they were at her school in Saint Lucia, Walters finds the teachers to be much more supportive.

“I didn’t have that many nice teachers back in school [in Saint Lucia],” Walters said. “They [teachers at Maclay] always try to work with you, and nobody here had once said you failed. If you get a bad grade on something, they’ll try to help you get that grade back up, so I feel like that’s what stood out to me the most.”

Adjusting to a new school and making new friends can be nerve-wracking for anyone, especially if the person is from a different country. Walters initially experienced this struggle, as felt people wouldn’t accept or associate with individuals who are not like themselves. When she first came to Maclay, she often witnessed students making fun of her and others’ non-American accents, which are completely normal in other areas of the world.

“I feel like sometimes people could be a bit ignorant at Maclay, especially since I’m from a different country and I don’t speak with an American accent,” Walters said. “Some people don’t accept other people for who they are, what they are or where they come from, so it’s definitely shocking when you hear people mocking accents – not only mine.”

Despite common cultural differences, Walters found her friend group pretty easily. She mainly attributes her social skills to her traveling experiences. For example, one of the greatest lessons she learned when she visited Chiang Mai, Thailand, where she taught other students in a program, was to empathize with others. Not only that but meeting a diverse group of people from different countries has taught her to enjoy and appreciate the nature of human interactions.

“I would say that Alexis is a very outspoken, hardworking, sweet person,” sophomore Brooke Butler said. “She’s genuinely hilarious. Sometimes, I feel like my humor is broken but Alexis never fails to make me laugh.”

With her love for human relationships and growing interest in athletics, Walters wishes to pursue her future career as a sports therapist. One of the special things about Walters that is not always common is that she genuinely wants to connect with others. 

“I just accept everybody, and I try to be friends with everybody,” Walters said. “It doesn’t matter if they’re not in my friend group and I already have one. I’m still going to try to make friends.”


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Andy Poll

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