Meet Natalia Chabby from Switzerland!

Each year Brookfield Central hosts an array of international students from around the world. This year BC has had the pleasure of hosting four individuals who have ingratiated themselves deeply into the culture of the school. I had the honor of speaking with one of them, Natalia Chabby, a junior at Central but originally from Switzerland. Exchange students are given the opportunity to pick a country they wish to study in;however, their host family, state, city, school, etc., are all chosen for them. Natalia noted that while she was nervous meeting her host family, they were “very nice and welcoming”. She had spoken with them over the phone but  seeing them face-to-face came as a shock. Luckily for her, she took private English classes at the age of 10 as well as learning more about the language in school. Watching movies, listening to music, and vacationing in the US also aided in making her more fluent.

Switching to Central was a massive culture shock compared to Natalia’s previous school. She noted that one of the glaring differences “is the fact that here you can choose the classes that you take, even though you still have some restrictions. In Switzerland we only have two options, otherwise everything else is imposed”. The freedom to choose her own schedule also allowed her to take part in more subjects she enjoys. According to Natalia, another big difference is the availability of extracurriculars. “In Switzerland, we just go to school and come back home.” She has taken advantage of these opportunities, and is a member of two different clubs as well being on the cheer team. She also takes horseback riding lessons with her host mom and plans to participate in other non-school activities. When asked if she felt like making friends was easy, she noted that it was difficult at first. However, meeting the girls on the cheer team and having the guidance counselors match people up, Natalia has made quite a few friends. 

Living in a completely different country can be stressful and challenging. As mentioned before, even the differences among schools can take time to adjust. Natalia states that the hardest part of switching countries was that cars are needed to go almost anywhere, and in Switzerland that is not the case. According to Natalia, living in the US has many benefits, and discovering new things that aren’t prominent in Switzerland is the best. She also added that students in the US have a different mindset when it comes to education, and that difference was beneficial to her.  Although the transition has been difficult, Natalia has made the most of it.