Foreign exchange students navigate school year in new country


Photo courtesy of Anna Tessari

Pictured are many of this year’s foreign exchange students celebrating Christmas together. The foreign exchange student program brings students together from different cultures and backgrounds and lets them experience high school together as one.

High schools across the country have been welcoming students from different countries into their schools for decades. Trinity has historically participated in this but took a break for a few years because of COVID. This year, the school has welcomed nine students from around the world to spend their year at Trinity. 

Some students have returned to their countries and some are still enrolled in Trinity. The exchange students this year are Alice Cavassuto, Anna Tessari, Ariane Furchheim, Friedemann Foest, Hannah Tiedemann, Ana Julia Fuess Sanchez, Emmy Von Lemm, Nicole Batista and Luna Mersch. Von Lemm, Batista and Mersch have already returned home. 

These students have tried their best to get involved at Trinity despite the challenges of being in a new country with a new host family and group of friends. The biggest obstacle for all of the foreign exchange students has been juggling this while going to school in a completely new system. 

Tessari, from outside of Venice, Italy, explained the Italian public school system and how it differs from the  American public school that students here are accustomed to.

“In Italy, we have a thirteenth grade and our high school is like your version of college. In eighth grade, we choose to attend professional school, technical school or theoretical school for ninth through thirteenth grade,” explained Tessari. 

The public school system isn’t the only big difference that these students have noticed compared to their home countries. Fuess Sanchez explained that Washington, Pennsylvania, is very different from her home city of Sao Paulo, Brazil. 

“Washington is really a small city and everything is really far away. There’s not as much public transport and no safe place to walk on all of the streets,” said Fuess Sanchez. 

The students have also been away from their families for an extended period of time. However, most of them are so busy they aren’t affected by homesickness. Tessari and Fuess Sanchez say they text their parents every day and call as much as they can. They have also grown and developed independence through this experience. 

Americans participate in activities, eat foods and celebrate traditions different from many other cultures around the world. Furchheim says that she’s going to miss eating the American household classic of chicken pot pie when she returns to her home of Frankfurt, Germany. Fuess Sanchez is going to miss participating in track and field when she returns to Brazil. Tessari is going to miss eating the wildly popular and delicious snack, Cheetos, which are not sold in Venice; going to American events like rodeos and celebrating holidays to the max. 

“I love how Americans celebrate Christmas and how they overdo everything, in a good way of course. I thought the movies were making fun of Americans, but I love the decorations and the Christmas sweaters. I also love Halloween, haunted houses and trick-or-treating, which we don’t really have back home,” said Tessari. 

All of the students are disappointed now that the school year is coming to an end. They have made great friends over the year and have gotten used to American culture. However, all good things must come to an end. They are so grateful to have had this experience and been able to see more of the world. Trinity will miss all of their smiling faces in the halls and is sad to see them go!