When an exchange student from Romania started classes at Center Grove High School this year, the size of the school caught her by surprise.

“I come from a poor and small village, 2,000 people,” 16-year-old Denisa Raducan said. “My exchange brother’s high school has several thousand people. It is amazing. Everyone is so open-minded and welcoming. You have a lot of opportunities.”

Raducan joined choir for the first time this fall. She’s made sure to take advantage of joining other clubs, including setting up Halloween decorations and going out caroling in the community. In the spring, she plans to join the tennis team. The sport is one she played when her family lived in Greece for several years, but one that wasn’t an option in Romania.

Back home in Romania, going to school means getting on the bus, going to your classes, and taking the bus back home, she said.

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“We don’t have teams or clubs,” she said. “It’s go to school, do your homework and take exams.”

Raducan is spending the school year with a Greenwood family of five. Her host family, Melissa and Joe Trahan, have taken her to a drag racing competition and a Luke Bryan concert. They’ve also introduced her to one staple Indiana food, boiled corn-on-the-cob, something she hadn’t had before.

Driving around the area and seeing all the restaurants is strange to her, she said. Shopping in Indiana is also a much difference experience, especially around Christmas.

“We went Black Friday shopping and it was scary out there,” she said.

She has also enjoyed going out to yard sales every Saturday in August and September with her host family.

“Yard sales are the best ever,” she said.

Raducan bought clothing, books and a large teddy bear, some of which will be presents for family members back home. Figuring out how to ship items to Romania will be a challenge, since she knows she’s not going to be able to fit everything with her luggage.

A love of traveling is what led her to become interested in being an exchange student and coming to the U.S.

Her family has lived in both Romania and Greece, and she wants to have the opportunity to explore more of the world.

“I’ve always been a fan of traveling and discovering new cultures and places,” she said.

Raducan will have one more year of school once she returns home to Romania, but after that is looking into whether she might return to Indiana, possibly to study tourism management at Indiana University and become a travel agent, she said.

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Jacob Tellers is a reporter at the Daily Journal. He can be reached at jtellers@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2702.