Our American Dream: OPHS as told by international students
America, through the eyes of international students
October 29, 2021
Football games, cheerleaders and a copious amount of junk food were some of our expectations prior to entering America as international students. Now, we — Nicole Syku from Milan, Italy and Laura Rezende de Aguiar from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil — finally immerse ourselves in what many call the “American Dream.”
“I feel like I’m in the movies, to be honest, with cheerleaders, football players and all the school spirit. I have friends that have done this before and I’ve seen their pictures, so I had pictured that my year would be like theirs,” said Oak Park High School JV cheerleader, Maria Wadel-Heimland, from Oslo, Norway.
Moving to America changes each international student in different ways, but ultimately we’re learning to do everything without the help of our families. It is a dream for sure, but it’s a challenge, too: independence, responsibility and self-reliance are the key points of our exchange year.
“One thing that has changed in me since I came to America is awareness. Living away from home and all my possessions, I became aware of their value,” said Marta Tassinari, from Milan, Italy. “I’m [also] aware of the fact that I can [now be independent]. I was not sure about it months ago, [but] now I can say that I am sure.”
We have also noticed that teenagers here are very connected to social media; it seems like it’s a really important part of their lives. What surprised us was how the importance of maintaining online communication affects relationships. For example, some of us exchange students didn’t have Snapchat at all before coming to America, and we somehow felt “obliged” to download it in order to communicate with each other and our American friends.
There’s definitely more to see than what we had expected. We are working on this challenge every day, encountering our limits, and we are ready to live this year with energy and enthusiasm — time to seize the “American Dream!”