A Year Abroad in California, USA Testimonial

Year Abroad exchange group in California
Laura Carraro Costais is from Brazil and she shared her year abroad experience in McKinleyville, California. She loves to play tennis and hopes to be a doctor and travel around the world trying different types of experiences and food in the future.
  1. What did you find the most challenging about living abroad in USA?

The first school months for sure! It was easier than I thought it would be, but my level of English wasn’t excellent when I got here, so some grammar in some classes was the most challenging part, but everyone was always willing to help me and it turned out fine.

  1. What do you find the most rewarding about your year abroad?

For sure the relationship I created with everyone that was part of my year in the USA. At my Rotary club, host families, school, another exchange students and even nice people from my community that I got to know. I love to say that now I have a family that lives around the world.

  1. What advice would you give someone before they go abroad for the first time?

My advice for someone going abroad for the first time is: Don’t overthink it and go! Embrace the opportunity and make the best out of it. Living abroad helps to figure out who you are, where you want to be, enjoy your own company and a lot of other things. Now that I have done it, I have friends all around the world that are like family for me, a “new” Laura and a lot of stories to tell!

Yellowstone National Park Year Abroad

  1. How did this year abroad change you?

This year abroad changed me a lot! I became a much more confident girl, outgoing and responsible. I learned how to deal with missing my family and friends back in Brazil, learned to judge less and love more. It opened my eyes to how different and at the same time the cultures are.

  1. How did you deal with culture shock?

To be honest I didn’t really have that big of a  cultural shock. The only thing that is different (but love) is the life in a small my community. The County that I live in has about 135,000 habitants when the city that I came from has a population close to 401,000. But besides that nothing really surprised me that much.

  1. What surprised you the most about California?

What surprised me the most about California is how friendly people are! Since I was a kid I hear that there are no people such as the Brazilians, that we are the most welcoming and friendly. I don’t disagree with that at all but the Californians should, for sure, be included in the list!

Studying Abroad in the United States? Take this quiz to find out how many truly American things you have already done!

Napa Winery Tognetti a Year Abroad

  1. How often did you speak with your friends and family back home?

Texting with my friends and family really often, they always wanted to know how things were here and I wanted to know what was going on there, but FaceTime or Skype not that often! My friends usually called me when they were together and my family usually on Sundays afternoon.

  1. What did you like the most and what was the most different about USA?

It’s difficult to find something that I liked most about the USA, but I think the “chill” way the Americans live their lives, the fact that school doesn’t start until 8am and that sports and school are connected. Also the most different to what I was used to is having lunch during school time, I like it but also I love to take a nap after lunch.

  1. What are you planning to do next?

So my school year abroad will count in Brazil, so that means that I’m (finally) done with high school what is super exciting! But now I’ll keep studying to be approved in Med college.

  1. What are some tips you would give to someone who is going to California?

First thing: not all California is warm and has palm trees! Make sure to check the weather before your year abroad. The place you are going doesn’t really matter! you gotta make the best out of it.

Are you planning to study abroad soon?

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Hi, I'm Marina, passionate traveler and blogger, based in the United States and travelling the world. Thanks for following me on my life and travel adventures!


  1. Jonas
    June 30, 2018

    I envy you a lot!
    Tbh, this was always kind of a dream for me, to study abroad. But I chickened out, and now I have to deal with the regrets. So, I’m happy for you that you take action on it. These will be memories you will never forget!

  2. Lexis Hershey
    July 20, 2018

    This was so interesting to read, especially having grown up in the US! 🙂


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