Senior Diego Nivoloni and his family pose on the beach in Brazil.
Senior Diego Nivoloni and his family pose on the beach in Brazil.
Photo Provided By: Diego Nivoloni

Learning From Each Other [Part 2- Romania and Brazil]

She steps off the plane, inhales deeply, and looks around. She doesn’t know where they will be standing, but then she sees them. Smiling and waving signs, her host family welcomes her to America. “Maybe this won’t be so bad,” she thinks. Bravely, junior Antonia Calin takes a step forward and introduces herself to the family she will stay with during her time as a foreign exchange student.

Calin and senior Diego Nivoloni came to America from Brazil and Romania. They chose to come to learn English and see different cultures. 

“Becoming a foreign exchange student was the best thing I’ve done in my life,” Nivoloni said. “The first month is hard because you’re too far away from your family and friends, but once you make friends it’s so fun and exciting.”

Calin came to Lindale from Bucharest, Romania. She came to learn more about American culture.

“I was always interested in cultures and diversity and different types of traditions,” Calin said. “So I was thinking the U.S. is the best place to do that because you guys are so interesting and diverse, and I just absolutely loved the idea of living in America.”

Calin joined extracurriculars including theater and speech and debate. In Romania, she participated in speech and debate, theater, book club, she directed the school newspaper, was the student council president, and she volunteered with the Red Cross organization and another organization that helped children from poor environments gain education skills.

“Living the American dream and going to an American high school is just a dream for me,” Calin said. “I did get homesick when I first came, and it was really bad for the first month or so. It’s normal and natural, and as an exchange student, we don’t think others experience the same things we do, but everyone experiences homesickness in the same way, so we’re just getting through that.”

In Romania, an average school day lasts from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. instead of until 3:20 p.m. Along with that difference, the mannerisms of Americans are much different than that of Romanians.

“The school schedule was the hardest thing to adjust to because here, it’s like a full day of school, which was just absolutely awful for me. Usually, I have theater rehearsals or something, so I don’t get home until 6,” Calin said. “As for my host family, I’m basically living with complete strangers. I love them and they’re amazing, but in the first few weeks, I just didn’t know what to do or how to act with them, so that was also a big adjustment.”

Nivoloni came to Lindale from the  São Paulo, Brazil. He came to America to learn English and make friends internationally.

“I wanted to be an exchange student to learn English and create relationships with other people from other countries,” Nivoloni said. “I wanted to learn how different people live, but the main reason is learning English. They taught English in Brazil, but it wasn’t that good. I started learning last year and it was hard, but here, I can learn more.”

Nivoloni was on the junior varsity football team in the first semester, and he is currently on the varsity soccer team. He plays forward in soccer and played as a kicker in football. Although he didn’t participate in any activities at home, in his free time here he enjoys swimming, playing ping pong, and talking with his host family.

“It’s upsetting that we don’t have competitive sports in Brazil. We do it only for fun, but not for competition,” Nivoloni said. “I really like the sports here.”

In Brazil, sports aren’t included in school, and they are usually only played for fun. Instead of choosing extracurriculars, advanced classes, and specializing with an endorsement, all Brazilian students learn everything.

 “In Brazil, you cannot choose the classes, and the classes don’t change; the teachers teach everything, so you stay with the same people all day every day,” Nivoloni said. “Every student learns everything, and they have all the classes.”

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