Panther Personalities: So far from home

Payton Bright and

Same new country. Same new school. All different stories.

Five foreign exchange students arrived in Derby shortly before the first day of school.

The day before senior Nicoletta Canals Cerelli’s arrival from Spain, her flight was canceled and she ended up spending a night alone in Dallas. As nerve-wracking as it was, it was only the beginning of her journey.

Alice Valle, who is from Turin, Italy, also had travel difficulties.

“My first flight got delayed and that delay would mean I’d lose my other two flights, so they had to switch my planes and I got on one that went from Milan to Chicago, then Chicago to Wichita,” she said. “When I got to Chicago I had to go from Terminal 5 to Terminal 1, so I was basically running to my gate, but got there just in time luckily.”

After arriving in America, they’re adapting to a new country began.

“I still am kind of overwhelmed by all of it,” Valle said. “I arrived here late Sunday and on Monday I was already at school doing enrollment, English tests and my schedule, so I didn’t really have time to adjust.”

On Aug. 15, all the foreign exchange students met for the first time as Tilde Bergman, Canals Cerelli, Annabel Thelen, Marc Tur Bosch and Valle had a two-hour English assessment. 

“We’re all pretty close and relate to each other, but people look at us weird when we say bye to each other cause we do the two kisses on the cheeks thing,” Valle said.

Becoming a foreign exchange student is a new experience to most. But for Canals Cerelli and Bergman, it’s common in their families. 

“It’s in my blood, my whole family has been a foreign exchange student at some point,” said Bergman, who is from Sweden.

Canals Cerelli added: “I wanted to become an exchange student because my mom, sister and brother were all exchange students. They encouraged me to have this experience.” 

Soon enough 5 out of 2461 students were brave enough to give this new life a try.

“I get stressed with classes. Back in Germany, you have at least 30 minutes between each class. It’s stressful to not have a break,” Thelen said. 

Bergman had to get used to a new system, too.

“The hallways get so packed and in Sweden we don’t travel to classes, the teachers travel to us so I got confused the first couple of days,” she said.

As for Marc Tur Bosch, who plays soccer, it wasn’t school that was the big change.

“It was the food. Derby bakery’s aren’t anything like Spain’s bakeries. I’m not used to having this many fast food options,” he said.