Brazilian foreign exchange student discusses her transition to RHS


Foreign exchange student Daniella Pacheco-Paiva adjusting to Rochester!

Patiently and quietly, foreign exchange student and junior Daniela Pacheco-Paiva waits in her first hour classroom for her first day of American high school to begin. As she looks around the room, she sees English writing on the walls and students chattering away in English, too fast for her to understand. While missing her family and friends back home, Pacheco-Paiva is open-minded as she takes on new experiences.

“Here I have more options as to what classes I can chose to take like foods and gym,” Pacheco-Paiva said. “We don’t have that in Brazil; the classes we have to take are basic like algebra, science, physics, chemistry and stuff. You have to take all of them you can’t choose between.”

Pacheco-Paiva is not alone in these adjustments. She is staying with senior Frances Kummer for her six month stay, and Krummer said she’s thrilled for the opportunity, though both she and Pacheco-Paiva had to make slight adjustments to live together.

“It’s different — it’s like you have brought essentially a stranger into your home — it took a little of getting used to but I have a lot of fun with them,” Kummer said.  “They keep me laughing and their culture is so completely different than ours. Dani and I have econ together and somehow we just relate on so many things.”

Even with a friend by her side going into her first day of school, Pacheco-Paiva still faces difficulties with finding her way at Rochester High School.  

“It’s hard to make friends; the first day was sad, because I had to eat lunch alone,” Pacheco-Paiva said. “In Brazil if there is a new student everyone goes up and talks to them and make them feel comfortable and that’s the most different. In Brazil the people are more open and they do not have groups. Here it’s different, everyone is in their groups and cliques.”

In addition to learning new social customs, Pacheco-Paiva has to had to deal with being away from her loved ones back home.

“The hardest things since I’ve gotten here is missing my mom and my dogs and that’s the hardest thing to be away from your home,” Pacheco-Paiva said. “I talk to them everyday by just texting them.”

Even though Pacheco-Paiva is still adjusting to the idea of being in a new, larger high school, principal Mr. Neil DeLuca says he’s thrilled that she’s here.

“It definitely brings a different perspective for our student population and the different cultures that in are the world,” Mr. DeLuca said. “It gives us an inside look to maybe a different education system in a different country. It also open the doors for our students to go to other countries as well and have the same experience.”

Kummer also says having Pacheco-Paiva attend Rochester is a benefit.

“Positives are that it’s like I have a third sister,” Kummer said. “We always make fun of my little brother and she’s fun to be around.”

Although many addressed the positives of the student exchange program, they were also apt to mention some of the potential challenges these students face as they adjust to so many different things.

“I’m sure it’s difficult, coming into a different country and living with people,” Mr. DeLuca said. “You aren’t in a hotel on your own; you’re with a whole American family and the culture piece is shocking. One moment you are in Germany per say and eight hours later you are in America with an American family and American cultures and American traditions. So they are definitely immersed in our culture right away and it’s got to be difficult.”

While Pacheco-Paiva echoed the struggle with the transition, she is determined to reach her goals and get the most out of this opportunity.

“Being a foreign exchange student I wanted to experience studying high school in America because it’s very different to Brazil,” Pacheco-Paiva said. “I wanted to see how it was here, and to study in the high school. Also to learn more English and get good curriculum.”

Pacheco-Paiva already has a head start on the English because of her experiences in America when she was younger.

“I lived here before and I really liked it and that’s why I wanted to come back,” Pacheco-Paiva said. “My dad was transferred here in 2008 for GM and we had to live here for two years. I went to University Hills Elementary School.”

Being a foreign exchange student is just the beginning for Pacheco-Paiva, who hopes to one day live in America permanently.

“I would like to live here because it’s much better than Brazil,” Pacheco-Paiva said. “In Brazil our president is not the best. Here life is better and you have a lot more options.”