Exchange student becomes an Atom

Genesis Lara, International Editor

Have you ever thought about leaving your family, home, and friends behind? How about if it was to experience a whole new country or school? Have you ever thought about leaving your family, home, and friends behind? How about if it was to experience a whole new country or school? Junior Joao Teixeira, a foreign exchange student has done just that. Coming all the way from Portugal,   Teixeira came to the the United States about a month ago. Coming to make a life changing experience. “I made this decision about a year ago and it’s not a decision you make lightly,” Teixeira said. “I left my whole world and I came here, without knowing anybody. Just landing here in another country with a new culture just a month ago.”

His mother was a big factor on why he decided to do the program. Teixeira’s own mother had experienced the program herself and pushed him towards the decision that he made. “My mom did this exact program, the foreign exchange student program about three years ago,” Teixeira said. “She always encouraged me to do it.”It wasn’t an easily made decision, even at first he was pretty indecisive about it. “A lot of people would be scared to do something like this, to leave their friends and family behind, which is exactly what I did,” Teixeira said.

After a lot of what ifs and why nots,  Teixeira made the decision to go for it. ”Well I mean, this is something I am going to regret if I do not do, it would be a nice experience,” Teixeira said.Teixeira mentions that everything is different, especially the school system. Coming from a foreign country to America, you’re going to experience a different lifestyle. “Such basic things are different for example, students don’t move, we have fixed classrooms. Teachers are the ones that move over there,” Teixeira said.

That is not the only thing different about the school life in Portugal and America. “We have almost no choice of subject, we also don’t have pre calculus, calculus, algebra, we just have basic math,” Teixeira said. Adapting to a new school isn’t the only thing you have to go through when being an exchange student. They have to live with a completely different family, basically strangers. Teixeira is staying with a host family while in America. Staying with a host family is apart of the Foreign Exchange Student Program. A host family is a family that offers their home to the exchange sudent.

The student then lives with them just as if it was their own home with their family. In Teixeira’s case he is going to live with his host family until the end of the school year. “My host family is really nice, I really got lucky. They came from Mexico about 20 years ago. I have two older host brothers and a host sister who is my age,” Teixeria said. He gets along with his host sister since his other two host brothers are in college.

“I got to know her friends, and we’ve really gotten along really well,” Teixeira said. Coming to America, the culture from Portugal is very different. Especially coming to such a diverse school, surrounded from people all over the world. He gets to know to them and realize he either has a lot in common or almost nothing in common.

“We grew up watching Disney and Nickelodeon and all that stuff and we see like American High School series like the riding the yellow school bus and having lockers. Now that I’m here all my friends are very excited telling me ‘Oh my god you ride the yellow bus! You have lockers!’ so you can tell that school in Portugal is completely different,” Teixeira said.

Even with experiencing a whole new culture and loving it, there is no place like home. A new experience gives a new perspective on many things.

“Coming to America has made me realize the good things that I have on a daily basis, back in Portugal the weather is so good,” Teixeria said. You would assume people think America is the best country there is or have some similarities, but Teixeria sees it in a different way. “We often think ‘Oh we are so much worse than America, they’re so great, we are nothing compared to them’ but I mean once I came here I definitely started to appreciate my country more,” Teixeira said. People should really be more open to the program. It is difficult to decide but at the end of the day, you get to live through something that is a once in lifetime oppurtunity.