The student news site of Blaine High School.

BHS Blueprint

The student news site of Blaine High School.

BHS Blueprint

The student news site of Blaine High School.

BHS Blueprint

Staff Profile
Julia Tomandl
Julia Tomandl
Staff Writer

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Chiara Meggetto’s Exchange Student Experience


Every year, Blaine High School opens its doors to foreign exchange students. They travel from different countries like France, Germany, Italy, and more. These students get to live in the USA with a host family for an entire school year. 

Senior Chiara Meggetto is one of Blaine’s foreign exchange students for the 22-23 school year. She left her home country of Italy to embark on her new adventure. 


What was your first impression of the US?

Everything felt like the movies when I got there. Everything was different. I had never been to the US before my exchange year, so I didn’t really know what to expect. Everything was different from my home here, and I didn’t really like it because it felt like I was literally living in a movie. 


Did you have any culture shocks?

How people dress at school. People wear crop tops with naked backs. You go [to school] with jammies. We cannot do that. We have to wear t-shirts, we cannot show off our shoulders, we can’t wear v necks that go too deep down, and we can’t wear shorts to school. And I was like “woah that is so weird. Why do people do that here?” On the first day of school, I was just wearing long pants and a shirt because I did not know that you guys could wear stuff like that. When I saw my host sister going to school with shorts and a top I was like “wait, you can go to school dressed like that?” And she was like “yeah.” Another thing is probably the food. In Italy we’re known around the world for our food so coming to the US was really weird. I don’t really like American food. Something that shocked me was french fries and ice cream. I actually love it. 


How was school in the US different from school in Italy?

The main difference is we go to high school for five years, not four. In Italy we go to school six days a week, not five. We have school on Saturdays too. It really sucks. We get in at 7:50am and get out at 12:50pm. We go to school for five hours a day so we don’t get to eat lunch at school. School in Italy is way more difficult than school in the US. We have to study all afternoon to get good grades. We also don’t have sports that are associated with the school. If you want to do a sport, you have to do it in a club. In the US you can do a sport after school is done. We have clubs at school like theater, computer science, languages, music, but not sports. People do sports outside of school. We don’t have pep fests, proms, homecomings, or other dances. We don’t pick our classes like you do in the US. You can pick a language school where you study a language like French, German, Latin, Spanish, and English. You could pick a computer science school or a marketing school. I go to a scientific school, so my school is based on math, chemistry, and physics. 


What was your favorite thing to do in the US?

Going to the football games. I also really liked Track and Dance Team. I didn’t really like cheerleading. But that was just me. I tried it but I didn’t really like it. Cheerleading is not my thing. I have a friend that is doing an exchange year right now and she loves [cheer]. I prefer going to the football games from the student section. One thing that I love is going tubing at the lake. I was supposed to come back to Minnesota over winter break, but I said, “If I go back over winter break, I cannot go tubing. I’m going to come over the summer.”


Did people treat you differently because you were an exchange student?

Some people were really interested in my story and who I was. For example, my friend Lauren probably asked me 3,000 questions a day. Every day she asked me a different question about Italy and my life. Other people didn’t care. It’s probably because Blaine is such a big school. They’re probably used to having exchange students. I think people are nice in the US. Probably because I was an exchange student. If you’re a foreign person in Italy, they don’t treat you that way. People in Italy are kind of snobs. They look at you with a side eye. 

The US is a bigger country than Italy so they’re most used to seeing different styles, and different people. 


What was your experience like on Blaine Dance Team?

At the very beginning, no one really talked to me because I was really shy and they didn’t know me. Something really good about the dance team is no matter who is on the dance team, they always try to do team bonding. That’s how I got to know every single girl. Then I got really close with all of them. Everyone was so curious about my life. After they got to know me, everyone was really really nice to me. My experience would have never been the same without the dance team.  


What did you miss most about Italy while you were here?

If I’m being honest, probably just the food. Literally nothing else. I missed my family, but I was fine there [the US]. I had the life that I wanted. I absolutely was not looking forward to coming back to Italy towards the end of my experience. 


What do you miss most about living in the US?

Literally everything. Especially my host family and really close friends. I get more homesick here [in Italy] than when I was actually there. When I left my hometown I was not homesick but right now I’m really really homesick. Here school is stressing. I liked that in the US I didn’t have to be stressed and didn’t have anxiety about coming to school. All the teachers were so nice to me. In Italy it’s not like that. You don’t create a real bond or relationship with your teachers. I do really miss sports. 


Would you come back to the US?

Yes. Right now. I’m not looking forward to coming back for college because it’s so expensive there. In Italy it’s cheaper. For me, because I’m an international student, to come to the US for college it would probably be like $60,000 a year. I would spend less in Italy for six years than I would for one year in the US. 


If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently?

I would probably speak to my counselor right when I got my placement. I really wanted to do fall dance team. I would probably say to her “listen I really want this. If you could please make an exception for me I would really appreciate it.” And then I would probably not drop a weight on my foot. I did it in the weight room for track so I lost half of the season because of my broken toe. I got to do the last meet. I was in a boot for a couple weeks so my foot got to heal. I don’t want to say completely. When I raced, my foot was not healed completely and I felt it. I just wanted to do it because it was my last race.


Any final words?

“In my experience, everything happened for a reason, so that’s why I didn’t want to change anything. Otherwise it wouldn’t have been the same.” 

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