Saumya Agrawal’s Virtual Exchange at Athenian


My name is Saumya Agrawal and I’m 17 years old. I study at Vivek High School in India. My experience as a virtual exchange student at Athenian is something I will carry forward with me. 

Before attending Athenian classes, I never thought that meetings over Zoom could be this interactive and exciting. I got to interact with a lot of Athenian students, at the Round Square club and in my advisory group, all having one thing in common, a friendly smile and a welcoming nature. My exchange partner, Sydney Alveda was extremely kind to me. We instantly connected over long emails, texts and Zoom calls. 

Attending Athenian’s all-school meetings on Fridays has been one of my highlights as I got to hear what students really felt about the Black Lives Matter movement. It felt really empowering to see the faculty members and students come together to create a space where there was absolute freedom of expression and everyone was willing to hear what others had to say. 

One of the challenges I faced while attending Athenian classes was the time difference. As there is a 13-hour difference between California and India, most of my Athenian meetings were either late night or early morning. Dealing with this taught me how to manage my time better and more efficiently. 

There are a lot of things at Athenian which are very different from and better than my home school. Here I was asked to call all the teachers by their first name, whereas back home we only address them as sir or ma’am. I noticed that the students here are constantly motivated to speak, and I really appreciate this. The nature of communication between teachers and students at Athenian is very friendly. I really enjoyed being in an Advisory Group for the first time. I was able to talk openly about everything without any hesitation. 

Attending this exchange helped me step out of my comfort zone. I still remember, on the first day of my exchange, I was told to be the most outgoing version of myself. I followed that advice and made memories I will never forget. 

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