Isabella Calvo: From Panama to the U.S.

Jacqueline Cahaly

In this podcast, co-broadcast editor Jackie Cahaly interviews WHS senior Isabella Calvo about her experience moving to Wayland. Calvo had previously lived in Panama her entire life, until moving to town last year.
0:00 – Intro
0:32 – Differences between countries
2:11 – Daily life comparison
5:40 – Outro
Music credit:


Cahaly: Hello, and welcome to another WSPN podcast. I’m Jackie Cahaly and joining me today is WHS senior Isabella Calvo. Thanks for joining me today.

Calvo: You’re welcome.

Cahaly: Okay, so Isabella just moved not only to Wayland, but also to the United States last year, after previously living in Panama her entire life. In today’s podcast, we are going to discuss the similarities and differences between the two places and learn a little more about her experience. To start us off, what has been the biggest change you’ve experienced since moving here?

Calvo: I think one of the biggest changes was the language because I did learn English in my old school, but it’s not the same English everybody speaks [here] – so definitely the language.

Cahaly: Okay, and what did you find most surprising about the U.S. when you moved here?

Calvo: The school, because it was so different from my old school. We have a lot of freedom here and in my old school… no, there wasn’t much freedom.

Cahaly: What is the same about the two countries, like what have you seen here that has reminded you of home?

Calvo: Maybe the people, [because] the people here seemed really nice when I got here and it was the same when I was in Panama… people are nice.

Cahaly: We already touched upon this, but how did the language barrier affect you?

Calvo: At first, I had to go to a lot of my ESL classes to see how my English level was, but it wasn’t that bad. So, after a few months, maybe two or three months, my ESL teacher told me that my English had improved a lot. I did not have much trouble understanding the classes, maybe [there were] a few words I still sometimes did not know.

Cahaly: Moving on from the sort of big picture comparison, let’s look more closely at your experience moving to Wayland in particular. So you already talked about your school as a whole, but what about classes? Are classes in Panama formatted similarly, and are they harder or easier than they are here?

Calvo: The classes were completely different. For example, here we have free periods… in my old school in Panama we didn’t have that. We had ten classes a day…40 minutes each class and we had two lunches…fifteen minutes and thirty minutes each. For the classes, you were always in the same room so you couldn’t change, and you had to ask permission to go to the bathroom. The teachers were definitely strict – way more than Wayland. They weren’t that nice. Some teachers here are really nice, and they will actually help you if you need help. My teachers in Panama [said that] “If you need help, figure it out.”

Cahaly: Going off of that, how have interactions been with classmates and teachers? Was that what you expected?

Calvo: No, I did not expect that. I thought it was going to be harder to socialize with people [and] talk to people, but it was way easier than I expected. I feel like people here are really nice, and all the teachers were really welcoming when I got here.

Cahaly: That’s great to hear. Also, many students in Wayland take part in activities after school like sports, or theater or something in the arts. Was it like that in your school in Panama?

Calvo: No, in my old school in Panama we had like no clubs, I think there were only two robotics clubs and that was it. We didn’t have much extracurriculars – just the basic sports like soccer, swim and basketball.

Cahaly: So, this is more of a new experience for you. You’re on varsity soccer, how has that been for you?

Calvo: It’s fun, I like the team. It’s nice having practices and hanging out with the team.

Cahaly: That’s great to hear. Keeping [with] the after school ideas, did you spend your free time in Panama differently than you would spend it here, and if so, how?

Calvo: Yes, it was. In Panama, my friends and I had way more options to go to places. Because I used to live in the city, we had a lot of places we wanted to go, like restaurants. Everything was like five minutes away, so we did hang out a lot.

Cahaly: The last question to wrap this all up is: If you could speak to an exchange student or someone who is moving permanently from a foreign country to Wayland, what advice would you give them?

Calvo: I would tell them to go out of their comfort zone. For me, I have been trying a lot of things that I would not have done in Panama, like starting conversations with people – I used to not do that in Panama.

Cahaly: Alright, well that is going to be all for today’s podcast. Isabella thanks again for joining me, and thanks for listening.