Families connect foreign exchange students to America


Michael Smith

Ilona, a French exchange student, came to the United States in June and stayed with NC junior Giovanni Merendino until August 22.

Departing from South France and arriving in America on June 14, 2015, French exchange student Ilona Baradat began her adventure to the “home of the brave” to learn about America’s culture. Baradat, age 16, resides with NC junior Giovanni Merendino until August 22.

While here, Baradat experiences American school life: “North Cobb is a really nice school. All of the people are kind. Someone always wants to talk and there are lots of languages. Compared to France, everything is big, including the food. There are more breaks as we only have 1 classroom, so it is nice to move around,” Baradat explained.

Baradat came to America because her godmother and Merendino’s godmother kept in touch after meeting during a visit to France. Baradat appreciates her godmother and the opportunities she received: “Without my godmother, I wouldn’t have been able to come over here to America and experience everything I have,” Baradat said.

While France and America have their differences, Baradat’s original expectations held true: “America is like what I expected when I imagined it back home. I really love it here, but I would rather live forever back in France because it is my home.”

Although Baradat’s stay will not last much longer, she plans on embracing the rest of her trip and wishes to explore more: “I love being here in America, but I like my home in Southern France and can’t wait to reunite with family.”

Bruna Lima-Guimaraes, a foreign exchange student from Brazil, enjoys the new experiences she encounters at NC.
Melissa Sagaseta
Bruna Lima-Guimaraes, a foreign exchange student from Brazil, enjoys the new experiences she encounters at NC.

More than one exchange student visits North Cobb’s halls. Bruna Lima-Guimaraes, a 16 year old from Rio, Brazil will also attend North Cobb for the next five months unlike Ilona Baradat who will only be attending until August 22nd.

As Bruna adjusts to the school and city, she stays with Natalie Tureta, a junior at North Cobb High School. Bruna loves her time spent here so far, but alongside Ilona, she felt surprised to find out that North Cobb students change classes for each period:

“We don’t have this kind of school in Brazil. We don’t change classrooms, but the teacher changes throughout the day,” Bruna explained.

She enjoys speaking English as well as learning about different cultures offered at North Cobb. “I had a choice between the United States and another country and I chose the United States,” Bruna adds. “I would not live here. I love Rio and how big it is, and Kennesaw is very small.”

As expected, America’s differences brought good and bad to Bruna. “Americans are very cold compared to Brazilians,” she said. “Americans think they are the center of the world. You take so much pride in your country, and everything is about America.” But, one thing Bruna has enjoyed from the beginning of her journey has been the delicious American snacks. “I love PopTarts and mac and cheese. it is so good.”

According to Bruna, the United States is exactly how she expected it to be. Returning to Brazil next semester, Bruna will have many stories to tell her family and friends. Experiencing life in a whole new world will enable her to broaden her insight on culture as well as her friendships from across the ocean.