Minnesota picks Brazilian student

Yadny Martins was ready for the winter that never came

By HANNAH JOHNSON – Stillwater Gazette

Yadny Martins didn’t pick to come to Minnesota, but she says Minnesota chose her.

Martins of Brazil has lived in Lake Elmo and attending the Stillwater Area High School this school year. She thought she would be studying abroad in California, but it turns out the host family that would choose Martins was from Lake Elmo.

Initially, Martins braced herself for a frigid winter that never came. Martins didn’t learn how cold winters can be in Minnesota, but along the way she has learned to speak English, enjoyed tacos and visited the Mall of America. Martins also visited California and New York with her host family.

The Gazette caught up with Martins before she heads back to Brazil in mid-June.

Gazette: What’s it like living in Brazil compared to Minnesota?

Martins: (In Brazil) it’s always, always warm and really nice day outside like today. Right when I got here I got really scared because everybody as talking about winter and how cold it could be and how much snow it could have. This scared me a lot so I bought a bunch of jackets that I never actually had to use because I bring the sun with me. It was a really nice winter in Minnesota.

Gazette: What’s it been like learning English for the first time here?

Martins: I didn’t know any English at all. At first it was difficult to learn with some of the items and how people speak. … I had one week (to start learning) before going to high school. So I got here one week before school starts and had no time to learn, so it was really hard in beginning because people wanted to say something and I understood something else or words had double meanings.

Gazette: What’s been your favorite part of living in Minnesota?

Martins: I think it is the ‘Minnesota nice,’ because people are really nice here and I think I got lucky because most of the places I went (in the U.S.) had different accents and it’s a different type of English, even if it’s the same English. Like if someone from the south would come talk to me I wouldn’t understand. Minnesota has the most correct way to say what is nice, so I’m learning to say it the right way. … So I think people being nice and smiling and helping understand you. That’s like the best thing I can think of.

Gazette: What is school like in Brazil?

Martins: The school year is different here. So our school starts in January at the beginning of the year, not in September. So it’s the opposite – when you’re in summer we’re in winter, so when you guys are in school we’re not in school. … We don’t have prom. Our schools are very small. We have three-period schools, so you can go in the morning, or afternoon or night. You can choose when you want to go, like if you want to study a language in the morning, go to school in the afternoon and work at night or anything like that you can do that. We go to school six hours a day, so you could start at 12:20 and end at 6 p.m., or it can change and you can choose to go at 7 a.m. It depends on what, you can choose any time you want. … Another thing that’s different is here we change classes, but (in Brazil) the teachers change classes. You get the same group of people that you’re going to spend the whole year with, and its about 42 to 50 students in a class.

Gazette: What do you miss most from home in Brazil?

Martins: Food. Back home we have a fully nice and good plate. Every single day we have meat, rice, beans, a salad or noodles or something like that. It’s always a diversity. It’s hard here because you guys eat bread every single day and we don’t normally do that. We eat bread like at breakfast and that’s all, but you have a lot of pasta and bread and hamburgers and things that we don’t have. But I really like Burger King a lot. I told my mom, because I got 20 pounds when I got here, so I was like, I have to lose it and stop gaining weight. … We eat a lot of good stuff that you don’t have here, like different types of vegetables, things I eat there that I don’t even see them sell here. Here I eat a lot of tacos and I don’t usually eat tacos at all in Brazil. It’s just so good here that it doesn’t make sense why I don’t eat it.