Palermo poses at a concert with friends in Italy. I miss Italy, but I like the new experiences here, Palermo said.
Photo courtesy of Virginia Palermo
Palermo poses at a concert with friends in Italy. “I miss Italy, but I like the new experiences here,” Palermo said. Photo courtesy of Virginia Palermo

Cultural Crossroads

Students Move to U.S. from Around the World

Beyond the airport security gates,  unfamiliar words float on the air. Billboards and signs are not familiar.  Everything is different.  Arriving in a new home, adventure awaits for many with a new life in the United States of America.

Many new students moved to the United States this year from different parts of the world and have enrolled in high school. Students arrived in the States either through a foreign exchange program or the opportunity for a better life.

Senior Virginia Palermo is a foreign exchange student from Italy. She decided to join the program and move to the U.S. due to her mother being originally born in Massachusetts.

“I’ve always dreamed of living in the United States like [my mom] did,” Palermo said. “That is why I decided to take this opportunity.”

A struggle Palermo had to face was being away from her family, home country, and different customs in American culture. The time zone difference is seven hours which makes it difficult to communicate with her friends from Italy.

“Another major difference here is the type of people you see,” Palermo said. “People here are very nice to everyone, even to strangers, while we are more introverted in Italy.”

In her free time, Palermo likes to read books. In addition, her city in Italy is on the seaside, so she also likes to hang out with friends there.

“My friends and I spend a lot of time at the sea,” Palermo said. “I think that is another thing I miss most about Italy.”

In the Italian school system, the students stay in the same classroom, and the teachers are the ones who switch rooms. Students are required to take an oral and written test at the end of the school year.

“All of our classrooms are made up of about 20 students,” Palermo said. “It’s really different, but I think they are both two valid school systems.” 

Sophomore Leonardo Diaz moved to the United States from Venezuela with his family. They moved due to better work opportunities for his parents. 

“We saw the opportunity for a better life, so we took it,” Diaz said. “It was a hard decision to make, but I like America so far.” 

Growing up in Venezuela, Diaz had a normal childhood, playing sports and hanging out with friends. Before moving, he was on a soccer team and also took tennis classes.

“It was very enjoyable growing up in Venezuela,” Diaz said. “My parents took care of me, and I was a top priority as their child.”

In high school, Diaz participates in soccer. One difference is the strict schedule that has to be followed during soccer practices, unlike in Venezuela.

“We have to run with the cross country team in order to even touch the ball during the soccer period,” Diaz said. “We don’t have that strict schedule in Venezuela, we just play.”

In his free time, Diaz likes to ride his bike, play tennis with his family, sleep, and watch movies. He also enjoys hanging out with his new friends.

“I like to do a lot of active things,” Diaz said. “It is fun and keeps me entertained.”

Some differences between Venezuela and America are the food and the activities the students participate in. The school systems are also different, with Venezuela having smaller schools and longer classes.

“The food places are also far apart here in America, but it is more expensive in Venezuela,” Diaz said. “The temperatures are also very different, and it is super hot here.”

Junior Victoria Ferreiro is a foreign exchange student from Paraguay. She decided to become a foreign exchange student to work on her English. 

“I really wanted to have the American high school experience,” Ferreiro said. “I like attending the football games and going out with friends.”

Ferreiro speaks the two official languages of Paraguay, Spanish and Guaraní, and has lived there for her whole life before moving to America. In Paraguay, Ferreiro played soccer and piano.

“It’s really difficult here because I miss my friends,” Ferreiro said. “But it is fun here and I love the opportunity for the experience.”

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