Strangers in a strange land!

By Dona Blankenstein
Cole Harbour High School
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia

Tatiana Danice, Brazil: Tatiana, 17 years old, comes from Santa Rosa de Viterbo, Sao Paulo State. Tatiana decided to come to Canada to improve her English and get to know new people and their culture instead of going to England, New Zealand, Australia, or the United States. "I had to go the same way as the other two students. I was invited to a meeting where I had to speak and write in English. Later I had to fill out my application," says Tatiana.

Tatiana Danice
In Brazil, Tatiana goes to a private school from Monday to Friday. Twice each week, she has classes in the afternoon. In her school, teachers change rooms and the 35 students stay together in all classes. Her school has about 200 students from the first to the twelveth grade as well as preschool, which is voluntary.

School starts in February and ends in November. Her 9 different subjects don''t change during the year. "In some subjects, I have two teachers." If she were now in Brazil, she would be in the twelveth grade. But here at Cole Harbour High, she is in the eleventh grade for this school year in "cold!" Canada.

In Brazil not only the climate is different but also, since Brazil is in the southern hemisphere, the summer starts in November and the winter starts in July. Because of the year round warm climate, Brazilian girls often wear skirts and tank tops.

Rice and beans are important to their diet just as is a variety of fruit. Due to the hot climate in Brazil; much fruit juice is consumed. At the age of 18 years you are able to get your driver''s license. This makes it easier to go to several places at night, for instance to where they play samba music.

Bruno Bravo, Brazil: Bruno, 16, the only male exchange student at Cole Harbour High this year, comes from Recife, a city of over 3 million people in Pernambuco State. From five different possibilities, he chose to come to Canada to improve his English. "I want to become a journalist and for this job it''s important to be able to speak English."

After he filled out his application and answered several questions at an interview, he was told that he would be one of the exchange students for ‘‘99/00. One of the changes for him when he arrived in Canada was the different climate. When I asked him which word came first to his mind when he thought of Canada, he answered: "Cold!!!"

Now it is summer in Brazil. The clothes worn there in the summer are shorts and shirts, and jeans and shirts in the winter. Just as the Columbia label is popular here, so too is the Brookfield brand in Brazil. Levis is also a very popular style of clothing.

Bruno''s "normal" foods are rice, beans, and a variety of fruit. The music of Brazil is made with a lot of drums, so different from East Coast music. In his city, 70% of the inhabitants are Catholics with a small percentage of Protestants.

Canada''s school system is a new experience for Bruno. In his Brazilian school, they have 6 classes each day and 9 different courses each week. The courses, which cannot be chosen by the students, stay the same during the whole year. In twelve years of public school, the teachers are the ones who have to move from room to room - the students stay together as a class, some 50 students in each room.

School starts at 7:10 in the morning and ends at 12:45. Bruno even has to go to school on Saturdays but only for 3 classes. He says: "Cole Harbour High is so quiet." No wonder! In his huge school, there are about 2300 students from the first up to the twelveth grade. Though in Brazil he is in the eleventh grade, here he''s taking grade twelve courses.

Carolina Bergamo, Brazil: "I''m from Santa Rosa de Viterbo, Sao Paulo State." Carolina, 16 years old, chose Canada because first of all she wanted to improve her English and she wanted to get to know new cultures. To be one of the exchange students, she was interviewed and had to fill out an application. When she thinks of Canada, the first word she would tell you is cold or snow - the same thing the other Brazilians would say. In Brazil the average annual temperature ranges from 16 to 27 ° C.

Carolina Bergamo

"The music which is played in Brazil is samba." What do they wear to go out? Carolina says that there is not a big difference in what people wear in Brazil. "We have different brands that are popular. We have Tommy Hilfiger but it''s not as common as it is here in Canada." The food eaten daily includes rice, beans, and lots of fruit.

When Carolina goes to school in Brazil from 7:10 in the morning to 12:45, she participates in 6 classes per day and 9 courses each year. In her school, as in Bruno''s, teachers change rooms. The same students, up to 40 per class, stay together during the school day, from grade one to grade twelve, when they graduate. Carolina says, "In Brazil, I'm in the twelveth grade. Here, in Canada, I'm in the eleventh grade."

Dona Blankenstein, Germany: My name is Dona, I'm 17 and from Cologne, a city of over 1 million people where Cole Harbour High students taking part in the "Europe Trip 2000" will go in March. I wanted to improve my English and to get to know more and different people, so I chose Canada for my exchange year. To be one of the exchange students ''99/00, I went to a meeting where I had to talk about myself and explain why I wanted to come to Canada. I was asked a lot of questions –– at least in the application I had to fill out.

Dona Blankenstein

At home, I''m in the eleventh grade. In my school there are about 1000 students from Grade 5 to Grade 13. From the fifth to the tenth grade, students are separated into classes with up to 30 students, and the teachers have to change rooms. In Grades 11, 12 and 13, you have your 9 to 11 different subjects together with different people in different rooms. School starts at 8:05 in the morning and ends at 1:20 or 2:10 in the afternoon. Physical Education is required and takes place in the afternoon. All 13 years of school aren't compulsory. The first time you can quit school is after the ninth grade. Here in Canada, I''m in Grade 11, but I also chose four Grade 12 courses.

The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of Canada, or especially of Nova Scotia, is water or trees! But that''s not the only difference I have noticed. The music that is played in Nova Scotia is very similar to the kind we listen to in Germany. Very popular is German Hip-Hop and pop music. Though we have Tommy Hilfiger, with the exception of the jackets, this brand is not as popular as Nike, Levis, or FILA.

Christianity is one of the major religions in Germany. Islam also plays a big role because a lot of people from Turkey live in Germany.

Our food consists mostly of potatoes and vegetables. We don''t have that big variety of fast food restaurants (just McDonald''s and Burger King). The weather doesn't change very much. Where I live, we have more rain than snow in the winter and it is rarely hot in the summer.

As it is in Brazil, we must be 18 to get a driver''s license; however, most places of interest are quick to reach so a car is not really necessary. This is probably a good thing since the legal age for drinking and smoking in Germany is 16 years!

Myrna Flores, Mexico: Myrna was not available for this interview. We did manage to stop her long enough to get a photo!

Myrna Flores

A few words of gratitude:
We all would like to thank the students and teachers of Cole Harbour High for welcoming us and being so friendly and kind. It''s a pleasure for us to be here. Most of all, we would like to thank our host families for their hospitality and their support.