The Girl from Finland

When Elina came to America from Finland at age 16, all she knew about American high schools she’d learned from movies. She thought every street would look like Rodeo Drive, and every Friday would be like prom night.

She ended up in Colon, MI, just outside Kalamazoo, where she was assigned a host family through her exchange program. The town itself was not radically different from many towns in Finland: almost everyone was white, and in the winter, the locals played ice hockey on frozen lakes. But at her public high school in America, Elina quickly noticed one big difference.

On her first Algebra II test, she got 105%. Until then, she had not known such a score was mathematically possible.

Click here to read the rest of Elina's story at NBC's Education Nation.

EducationAmanda Ripley