Interactive Photo: Meet Northwest’s Foreign Exchange Students



Lucia Pedulla
Genova, Italy

America was the big unknown for Lucia Pedulla. Pedulla had heard the stories that her brother told about his experience in the Rotary foreign exchange program.
“My brother did it, and I wanted to try it,” Pedulla said. “I wanted to learn English and make new friends.”

America is everything that Pedulla had expected and more.

“The first day I thought that you are all crazy. You are very different from Italy. Everything is big,”  Pedulla said. The differences included having to change classes instead of the teacher, using the car instead of walking and the food.

“The food is very different,” Pedulla said. “Here it’s not healthy, and everything is in boxes,” While everything about the United States is different to Pedulla, she is adjusting to her life in America with the Meyerses family.

Jonas Martinson
Stockholm, Sweden

English was one of Jonas Martinson’s required classes in Stockholm, and that was just not enough for him . He wanted to be thrown into the subject through the Education First Foundation for Foreign Studies (EF).

“I wanted to be better at English, that’s why I came. And it will be fun, hopefully.” Martinson said.

Swedish students have to follow a required curriculum set by the government. They are required to take English, math, Swedish, physics, biology, chemistry, history, geography, religion, and civics. Martinson was thrilled when he learned that he would get to choose his own classes in the United States.

“I like choir and team games,” Martinson said. “My favorite class is choir. six boys in choir, and it’s nice.”

Not only is the curriculum different, but Swedish classes start later in the day.

“You have to get up earlier in the morning, and you have a short lunch and a short break ,” Martinson said. “By the end of the day, I’m exhausted.”

After the first day of school, Martinson’s nerves and excitement had washed into sleep.

“I was nervous,” Martinson said. “You know when you get your schedules? I was like ‘oh my god where do I go,’ but I made it.”

Although Martinson is happy to be here, he still misses home and familiar foods.

Particularly, Martinson said, the Swedish meatballs.

Riccardo Masina
Bologna, Italy

The first day of school was a challenge for Italian exchange student Riccardo Masina. He wasn’t used to changing classrooms every period. In Italy, the teachers move from room to room.

“ you see always the 25 people,” Masina said. “It‘s more simple because you always stay . Here, it’s a lot more confusing. You get used to it, but the beginning is hard.”
School was not the only change he had to get used to.

“You don’t have cookies for breakfast, and that’s weird,” Masina said. “You have dinner at 6 p.m., and we have dinner at 8 p.m.”

When Masina arrived in America with his identical twin brother, Vittorio, there was confusion in the airport.

“There were both families, and they didn’t know who because my brother is identical to me. But we did find out, because we had pictures ,” Masina said.

They both came to Kansas to be exchange students. Riccardo is attending Northwest, while Vittorio is attending SM North.

Beatrice Tunisi
Milan, Italy

“I didn’t know what I was getting into,” Italian exchange student Beatrice Tunisi said.  “In the airport, I was meeting another family. It was so strange.”

Tunisi was greeted by her host family and host brother Jonas Martinson, a Swedish exchange student, when she got off the plane. They arrived with balloons, candy and a welcome sign with her name on it.
After she attended her first day of school, she noticed it was vastly different from the one she attended in Milan.
“I come here and it’s big, and a lot of people,” Tunisi said. “I don’t know where my classes , and a lot of things aren’t the same.”
In Milan, the students have a 10-minute break every two hours. They go to school every weekday for six hours, as well as on Saturdays. Tunisi runs cross country, but in Italy all sports have to be done outside of school.
“Here, you don’t have a break. All the days are full. You do homework later in the night. In Italy, after dinner, fun is what you do; you don’t do homework. The time goes very fast. Italy is not like that. We don’t have a lot of homework,” Tunisi said.

Sandrine Reist
Aargau, Switzerland

When deciding to be a foriegn exchange student Sandrine Reist had little concern.
“I wanted to make new friends, meet a new family, improve my english and have a fantastic experience,” Reist said.
The first day of school was difficult for Reist because she was out of her comfort zone.

“The first school day was horrible because everything was so new, and so many people. It was very different from home,” Reist said.

Unlike in Switzerland, Reist had to move to other classes instead of the teacher.

“ you are always with the same people. I think this is better if you want to meet someone new and to make friends. This is different, but it’s also good,” Reist said.

Reist also enjoyed meeting her host family for the first time.
“I liked them from the first moment,” Reist said. “They are so nice to me, they try to make a wonderful year for me.”

Martina Laudato
Trieste, Italy

Martina Laudato has wanted to study in the United States since she was 10 years old, so when the opportunity presented itself, she took it.

“The U.S. is like the dream,” Laudato says.

She wanted to experience the schools, parties and life she had admired in American movies. With the support of her family and friends, she was ready for the leap.

  “They were like ‘you are so lucky,’” Laudato said.
After arriving in Shawnee, Laudato slowly adjusted to her new American life.

“When I am opening my locker, I felt so American,” Laudato said.

Laudato says her perception of the U.S. has not changed since moving here. Here, she sees the types of people she used to only be able to watch in movies back home. She wants to live like the typical American teenager and says she is looking forward to football games, school dances and a trip to Colorado with her host family.

On the academic side, Laudato says that American high school classes are much easier than in Italy. She says the teachers here are more friendly and more-willing to help when needed.

Linh Wagner
Bintseld, Germany

Linh Wagner’s decision to become a foreign exchange student was due to her desire to improve her English and the need to experience a new culture.

“Everyone wants to go once,” Wagner said.

When she finally made the decision to go, she was supported by both her family and friends. Her family was proud, and her friends were excited.

The experience of living in the US was more than she expected. The American high school life, variety of cuisine and kindness of people have all exceeded expectations.

Wagner has noticed the strangers in America are different than those in Germany. People here talk with strangers, while it’s the complete opposite in Germany.

Wagner feels as though everyone tries to be extra nice and helpful because she is an foreign exchange student.

“Everyone is very nice and helpful,” Wagner said.

She admires how people treat each other in school.

The whole American high school experience was a culture shock for Wagner.

“On the first day, everyone was speaking english all around me,” Wagner said.

After the overwhelming has died down, she looks forward to experiencing American high school activities such as football games and school dances.

Sylvia Wang
Donggyan, China
Sylvia Wang comes all the way from China. Wang began learning English in third grade, a requirement for all students in China.

“From a very young age many student want to go to America,” Wang said.

Wang said that students in China love America and want to see the culture for themselves. It has to do with the history, holidays such as Thanksgiving and just the atomosphere here.

“American music, shows, and movies are very popular,” Wang said. American high school movies are especially popular.

When she brought up the idea of participating in the exchange program, her mother was quite supportive and her uncle encouraged her. With the blessing from her family, Wang packed up to spend some time as an exchange student in US.

Wang was initially surprised to see that in the US, many people live in houses, while back home, the majority live in apartments.

High school was a culture shock for Wang who is used to a completely different school system. Five morning classes, a two-hour break, three afternoon classes and a two-hour seminar-like class at night are customary. The high schools in Donggyan are also all boarding schools.

American high school is not as difficult as back home, but Wang says that it is hard to learn new words for her classes.

A change that Wang has enjoyed is American food such as beef and catfish. Wang has since tried Chinese food in the US which she says is very different than back home.

“I love the food. It is very good here,” Wang said.