Living their American Dream

Taking a look at the lives of foreign exchange students at Oakmont High School.


Marissa Laucirica, News Editor

To most of us, Friday night football is a typical high school experience. To some, however, these games outline the American dream.


For context, foreign exchange programs enable students to experience new cultures and study in a different environment. 


The American Program, International and American Student Exchange, encourages students to take part in “international awareness and cultural understanding” (ICES Student Exchange and Academic Programs). This program has allowed a majority of foreign exchange students at Oakmont to fulfill their dreams. 

Senior Christian Coscone comes from a town within the city of Naples, called ‘Castellammare di Stabia’ in Italy. 


Coscone’s hometown is known for its pizza, and where his school is located, “Gragnano,” is the “European capital of Pasta,” Coscone said. 


Although Coscone is a Senior here at Oakmont, in “Italy [they] have to do five years of High School,” Coscone said. However, in Italy, he has options. 


Interested in studying “more math and science” classes, Coscone “applied for Science High School.”


In Italy, Coscone says he has “lots of homework to do at home and no activities to do after school like sports [or] clubs.” However, Coscone says that “attending American High School in Italy is seen as a dream and feels like [he is] part of a movie.” Coscone now is a part of the robotics club, attends football games, and swims in his free time. 


Junior Fernada Barreto Lang comes from Porto Alegre, a “big city” in Brazil with a number of destinations for tourists, especially around Christmas time. In Lang’s hometown, she spends “six periods a day” at school, with teachers changing classrooms, “not the students,” Lang said. 


Beyond the academics, Lang notes the way “people express their feelings and who they are through [clothing].” In Porto Alegre, expression through clothing is “not allowed,” Lang said. 


Alas, high school in the “United States has always been part of [Lang’s] dream.” With the bright lights shining down on the field on those Friday nights, the sound of cheerleaders on the sideline, and the “style of classes,” were the expectations that Lang had and feels she is finally experiencing. 

Since coming to the United States, Lang said her “life has changed a lot.” Due to the time difference, communicating with her family is fairly difficult, however she will be returning to Brazil at the end of this school year. 


Maxi Hagemann, a junior, “expected that [Oakmont] is like all the high school movies,” Friday night football games, school spirit, and tennis practice after school. Hagemann said she is thankful for “this American life,” and it’s “like the movies and [she loves] it.” 


Although, in the small town in Germany that Hagemann is from, technology in school isn’t as common. Everything is within close proximity, and she had “fourteen different classes” per week. 


Maxi Hagemann and Fernanda Barreto Lang are also “host [sisters],” and “best friends,” Hagemann said. On the weekends, they spend their time by the pool and often teach each other their native language. Hagemann says that she is learning American culture through school, Brazilian culture through Lang, and Mexican culture through her host family.  

For what it’s worth, take advantage of the opportunities you have here, fellow Vikings, as it may be somebody’s American dream.