Returning home

After spending a year in the United States, the foreign exchange students are sad to leave the lives and friends they have made.

As senior Diego Babuder walked in from the plane to find his host parents and their three children, he didn’t know what to expect. Many thoughts ran through his mind; he was scared and nervous, but nothing could compare to how excited he was to starting this new journey. Now however, he is preparing to return to where his journey began: Italy.

“I will always remember my host family and the memories I have had. This past Christmas, when the whole family was gathered together in Wisconsin, it felt great to be a part of the new family I’m living with,” Babuder said.

Throughout his time here, Babuder has gotten to know some of the other foreign exchange students.

“I didn’t know anyone on the first day, so it was lonely, but everyone was very nice and welcoming,” Babuder said. “Right off, I made a close connection with the other exchange students as well; we’re all best friends. But thinking about leaving them will be a very hard challenge for me.”
Babuder came to America to learn to be a pilot; it has been his dream since he was a little boy. He flew solo for the first time ever this year. Even though it was scary for him at first, he quickly got used to it and isn’t frightened anymore.

“I always loved to travel, and I have always been into flying; I have just learned to love it,” Babuder said.

Babuder plans to return to the United States in one year to finish flight school in California. Before leaving for his home country, Babuder wanted to sky dive with an instructor. For his 18th birthday he was able to reach his goal.

Despite the initial culture shock, Babuder has come to hold dear the friends he’s made.

“In about a month, I will go back to my home country and leave half of a heart with my friends and host family here. It will be very hard to leave everyone I have grown so close with,” Babuder said.

When he returns to Italy, Babuder will be leaving behind friend and fellow exchange student, senior Iago Silva.

Senior Iago Silva begins to pack for his return to Brazil. Silva will leave on June 2, after enjoying his time in the United States. “People were very nice, respectful, and understanding to me- it helped me adapt to the life style here. Besides, they all wanted to know about Brazil so it was pretty easy to make new friends,” Silva said.

Silva became acquainted with his host family over e-mail, but was still nervous when getting off the plane from Brazil.

“When I got to the airport, my host mother was wearing a Brazilian jersey and holding a sign with my name on it. It was a pretty funny and cool way of greeting me,” Silva said.

Silva was grateful for all of the student events he was able to participate in, and was particularly excited about going to prom.

“I wanted to go to prom because American prom is known in other countries, and it is the only chance I would get to go to one. But then the limo broke down so we had to get rides from our parents; it was still worth going though,” Silva said.

Even though it will be hard for Silva to say goodbye, he thinks it is time to leave and start his life back in Brazil.

While Silva and Babuder only have one host family, senior Bastian Hahn has two. The exchange student organization wanted Hahn to learn from two point of views by living with two different families.

“I thought it was a good idea to have two host parents because it was a better experience,” Hahn said.

In his time here, Hahn has learned to adapt, although there were a lot of new things to learn. He found the American mentality more rigorous than the one in Spain.

“If there is one thing that I have learned while being here,” Hahn said, “it is I am going to look back on things differently, because I never really wanted to work back in Spain. Being in America has pushed me to go to school when I go back.”

Hahn has had many memorable moments, such as eating American food, going to New York and attending Big River, the spring musical. But nothing can compare to his memory of arriving in America.

“Every moment is very memorable to me, but when I arrived, my family were all waiting at the airport and I hugged them for the first time. It was one of those feelings like I have known them for forever,” Hahn said.

Back at home, Hahn wasn’t very close to his family. Hahn’s dad died when he was three, so having a host father has provided a sense of support he has never felt before.

“It is always going to feel weird leaving your friends and family,” Hahn said. “I think we are all sad in one way, too, but we know that we are family now. Even though we are so far apart, we don’t have to stop being family because I leave.”

-Emily Utech