Pedro Lisboa, North Branch Rotary’s foreign exchange student from Brazil, is getting a taste of what it means to be a Minnesotan.
He just completed his first term at North Branch Area High School — he earned straight A’s — and he’s quickly learning about American culture from his experiences at school, at the homes of host parents and from friends he’s making during his stay here.
So far, Lisboa said his favorite part of being in North Branch is the people.
When he arrived in late summer until about three weeks ago, Lisboa stayed with Rotary member Dave Nordberg.
Nordberg, an avid hunter and outdoorsman, took Lisboa on a Rotary hunting trip to Wyoming the first week of October.
Lisboa didn’t go out on the hunts, but he did get to try trap and long-range rifle shooting for the first time.
“It took him about 10 shots before he finally hit one, and then he went, ‘Oh, I get this now,’ and the light finally went on,” Nordberg said. “Then he started getting them.”
Also during the trip, Nordberg had Lisboa help him field dress an antelope.
“He had his shirt over his nose the whole time,” Nordberg said with a laugh.
After they returned from Wyoming, Nordberg had his guest sample an array of wild game: bear, elk, mule deer, white tail deer and antelope.
“He liked it all,” Nordberg said.
Added Pedro, “I didn’t even know (what I was eating).”
There are some aspects of living in Minnesota that Lisboa said he’s had a difficult time getting used to.
One he mentioned is the meal time.
He’s currently living with Randy Koivisto and his wife Camille, and they like to have dinner on the table by 6 p.m. every night. That’s about two to three hours sooner than Lisboa eats dinner when he is living in his hometown, Araçatuba.
Koivisto said he was amazed when Lisboa Skyped his family at Christmastime, and they were eating their main meal for the day at midnight.
Lisboa said that’s a little later than normal, but having a meal at midnight isn’t out of the ordinary in Brazil.
Koivisto said he got to communicate via Skype with Lisboa’s mother, and she told him it was sweltering in Brazil.
“It’s interesting being able to communicate with someone else on the other side of the world when it’s 100 degrees there at Christmastime and they’re having their big meal for the day at midnight,” he said. “That’s a radical difference from typical Scandinavian customs.”
Lisboa said he’s also had a tough time adjusting to the Minnesota weather, stretches of which have been the coldest in over a decade.
“I don’t like it,” he said.
Lisboa also noted he misses his favorite soda, Guaraná, which has a taste, according to Internet articles, described as mild, slightly apple-like, with a distinct berry after-flavor.
Lisboa added he also hasn’t had anything in Minnesota that rivals his favorite snack, pão de queijo, a cheese-flavored roll that first originated in Brazil.
Another state standby Lisboa had a difficult time understanding the appeal of is the Minnesota State Fair.
“I didn’t really know what to do,” he said. “(Nordberg) said we were just going there to eat.”
Lisboa tried some of the fare, but not much of it struck the right spot on his palate.
“He really didn’t like the root beer float,” Nordberg said. “He took two bites of it, and he was like, ‘No, I am not drinking that.”’
Favorite parts about being in Minnesota
Even though adjusting to meal time and some of the food in America has been tough at times, Lisboa said there are plenty of aspects of his first few months in Minnesota that he’s thoroughly enjoyed.
He tried sledding, which he liked, even though the sled broke; he’s found banana bread to be delightful; he found trap and target shooting to be really entertaining; and he’s had a great time getting to know the students of NBAHS and other foreign exchange students.
He said he’s made friends with three or four students at school whom he plans to stay in contact with when he gets back to Brazil, and he thinks he’ll be lifelong friends with the other foreign exchange students he’s met at North Branch and during activities designed for exchange students across the state.
“I’m pretty sure we’re going to keep in contact forever,” he said of his relationships with the other exchange students.
Lisboa will be leaving Minnesota for Brazil in July, but before that time he hopes to go on a two-week trip with other exchange students to see some of America’s best-known places: Chicago; New York; Washington, D.C.; and Disney World in Florida.
After he completes high school, Lisboa said he’s planning to either become an engineer — both his parents are civil engineers in Brazil — or perhaps a pediatrician, a profession practiced by his uncle.