BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Adapting to the new fads and customs that come with every school year can be difficult on its own, but can be especially hard for a new student coming from a completely different country. Junior Laura Coronado found herself excited when embarking on her journey with her new foreign exchange program, but ended up realizing just how different Brazil and the U.S. really are. 

Getting used to life at Governor Livingston took some time for Coronado, but she got the hang of certain slang and local popular destinations with the help of her new friends. 

“It’s funny because everyone originally thought I was a freshman,” Coronado said. “In the beginning it was really hard as it’s my junior year of high school and everyone has their own cliques and groups. Everyone seemed like best friends already and I was so nervous.” 

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Coronado’s original worries make her laugh now when she looks back on them, as fitting in was not as hard as it seemed. 

Even though her experience initially psyched her out, Coronado eventually surrounded herself with new and exciting people. The overwhelming sense of inclusion that she faced on the soccer field also helped. Being a part of a passionate team allowed Coronado to dip her feet into the water at GL when it came to getting to know more people. 

“My fellow varsity teammates really went out of their way to make me feel included. We all got along great, and that’s very important within a sports team.” 

The end of the season marked a huge breakthrough for the new foreign exchange student. She reflected on where she had been at the beginning of this school year. “It’s gotten a lot better. I’ve found people I can talk to and hang out with outside of school, and I’ve met so many new friends.” 

The tough journey to getting to where she is now took more courage and determination than many new students have to face.

With her experience so far in a U.S. public school, she’s been able to reflect upon how different school life was in Brazil. “Back home, my school routine is very different. I go to a private school and don’t get to select my classes or take electives,” she said. In her school in Brazil, she stays in one room throughout her school day and she has to wear a uniform. 

Overall, Coronado loves the positive high school atmosphere she has found here. With new friends and learning opportunities, she is ready to make even more memories before she heads back to Brazil on the last day of school (June 21).