by Leah Raich ’25
Most rising ninth-graders are worried about fitting in, getting good grades and managing their time. However, this is not the case for freshman Miri Radnoti, who decided to leave her home in Budapest, Hungary to study abroad in America for a year.
“At my school in Hungary, between eighth and ninth grade, we have a language year,” Radnoti said. “During that year, we have three English classes a day or more. All my other classes, like chemistry, biology, geography, music and art, I only had for half a year. After that year you can study abroad if you want.”
Despite having the opportunity to study abroad, only two of Radnoti’s other classmates went on exchange programs. Although the students at Radnoti’s school take English classes for a year, it’s still difficult for them to take other subjects in English.
“A huge barrier for any international student is the language,” Director of Admissions Jackie Grosser said. “Obviously, all of our classes are taught in English and not Hungarian or any other foreign language. So we want to make sure that any international student who comes has strong enough English that they can at least follow along.”
Not only does Radnoti have to adjust to speaking English daily, but while she’s living in America, her parents and younger sister Liza are halfway across the world in Hungary.
“It’s obviously very hard to be away from my family for so long, but I need to do this in order to get better with my English,” Radnoti said. “It’s a challenge, and it’s hard, but I know that I can do it and I already am.”
Despite having to make all of these adjustments, Radnoti has already gotten comfortable around her host family, the Goldmans. Over the summer, TLS sent an email asking for a family with whom Radnoti could stay, and the Goldman’s eagerly signed up. Since she arrived, Radnoti started teaching the Goldman’s some of her Hungarian traditions.
“She taught my family and me about a stew called goulash that her grandma makes,” freshman Jonathan Goldman said.
Having Radnoti as an exchange student will not only benefit her host family and herself, but will also enhance the entire student body and the broader community.
“I think anytime that there are different backgrounds of students, whether that’s where they live, different religious practices, or socioeconomic backgrounds, students can learn from one another and that can really benefit the community,” Grosser said. “Hearing different voices, different perspectives, and different life experiences can make our students more worldly. Having an international student visit is a benefit, not just for the student themself, by gaining the experience living in America and being part of a thriving Jewish community in America, but also to the students and the faculty.”
In addition to all the learning opportunities made possible by studying abroad, Radnoti is also excited to be pursuing some of her interests while she lives in America.
“I’m a huge Star Wars and superhero fan, so I really want to go to a comic book store here,” Radnoti said. “We don’t have comic book stores where I live in Budapest so this will be a unique experience.”
Although this experience is just one year, Grosser is optimistic that Radnoti and her classmates can get so much out of it and she hopes more students can join the Leffell School community in the future.
“I think if we could be a Jewish hub for Jewish students who live in all different places to come here, even if it’s for a shorter term, it would be really cool,” Grosser said.