Different countries, different me: How moving to another country affected my personality and my social life


Matheus Trefilio (far right) in 2015 with (L-R) brother Heitor Trefilio, father Everton Trefilio and mother Alessandra Gallo in Jundiai, Sao Paulo, Brazil. Photo was taken six months before the move from Brazil to the U.S. (Photo courtesy of Trefilio family)


My family made a big decision in April 2016, when we decided to leave Brazil for better job opportunities in the United States.

Even though I have only been living in the United States for seven years, it’s been enough time for me to change from the person I was in Brazil to the person I am now in America.

When I was younger I could not live without my friends. I always tried to make new friends, no matter if it was in school or on the basketball team. I was enthusiastic and connected with a lot of different kids.

It was just my way of living life and I enjoyed it. I never wanted to stay at home and always tried to make plans to have fun elsewhere, whether in malls, parks, or my friends’ houses.

All of that changed when I stepped foot in this country. It is not because I didn’t want to move, as it was actually a dream of mine to be here for high school and college. I even prepared myself for it, taking English classes for years before the move.

I came in the last month of middle school. I was super nervous on my drive to the school, but that was because I was excited.

School is different here than in Brazil. There we stayed in one classroom, with the same 30 students, and the teachers were the ones who moved from class to class.

I met many people, but only stayed 50 minutes a day with them. The other students knew each other since their elementary school days, so it was hard for me to get into the groups, as I was still developing my English and could not communicate well.

My personality changed. I became shy and introverted, keeping things to myself. I stopped going out, except for team meetings for basketball and water polo.

The only people that I felt comfortable talking to were my parents and my brother, which was different for me as in Brazil I had many friends that I could talk to on a more personal level.

The one positive that I take from this is that it made me more connected to my family, as I had to rely on them to be there for me, and for me to be there for them.

Sports were the one thing that kept me from completely locking myself out. The few friends that I made here in the beginning were my teammates and I had a lot of them, as I played football, basketball and water polo in high school. Now I play water polo at El Camino College.

I hoped to have a fresh start after graduating from Palos Verdes Peninsula High School and chose El Camino as a bridge to get used to college life, and having an easier adaptation at the four-year college.

That did not happen though, as COVID-19 made everyone’s plans change. I will be transferring after spring 2023.

The Zoom life did not help me make new friends, as the only people that I got to know in the beginning from El Camino were my water polo teammates.

I love to meet new people and be able to connect to them. I do believe that those connections will help me not only on a personal level, but also on a professional level, as having a greater network of people could lead me to greater job opportunities, as I am studying journalism, a major in which connections are of extreme importance.

I do not regret moving to a different country. I do miss the people in Brazil. With the pandemic over, I am starting to get to know more people, and as my English is getting better each day, I am able to connect to those people easier than before, making stronger relationships.



Editor’s Notes:

  • Headline was updated on Monday, June 5.
  • Photo was enlarged on Sunday, June 11.