Sofia Bernales: From Peru to the U.S.


Kaitlyn Shellooe, Mirada Staff

Starting a new school can be tough, but starting new school in a different country is tougher. Senior Sofia Bernales came to the United States for the first time in January from Lima, Peru to live with her cousin and to experience another country.

“I never knew my dad’s side of the family and they all live here, so I wanted to come and meet everyone,” said Bernales. “I also wanted to improve my English.”

At first speaking English all the time was complicated, but since she has gotten here it’s improved drastically.

“At first it was difficult because it seemed like everyone was talking so fast and the slang was different,” said Bernales. “Now, I get stuck sometimes on the translation, since now I know more words in English.” At home, she never spoke English unless it was in her English class.

In Peru, they have 10 periods a day where the students stay in one classroom the entire time while the teachers rotate in each period. Since the age of three, she has been in the same building for school. The transition to America was scary for her to come to a new and bigger environment.

“I was scared at first because I’ve never been to a different school, so I was worried about making new friends,” said Bernales. “Having a cousin made things easier, since people knew him and it was nice to be introduced to people.”

The transition between the two different countries was tough. “I use to be able to walk to school, since I lived so close, and I didn’t have to get up as early,” said Bernales.

The requirements for graduation are different as well. “Health and credit recovery are probably my favorite classes, because we don’t have them in Peru,” said Bernales. “You use a lot of technology here, we don’t in Peru unless it’s for computer science, but using technology has been very helpful.”

They don’t use tools like powerpoint or word as much, so Bernales is excited to learn this new skill.

Not only is school different, but socially it was a different adjustment. “Back home we never had to ask for rides because everything was walking distance or we took a bus,” said Bernales. “Here, I feel like I don’t have much control as I did back home since I have to figure out a ride.”

Bernales likes to travel and got to wonder around Peru with her friends. She plans on going different places a lot more when she’s older. “I want to go to Brooklyn and go to the famous museums,” said Bernales.

Bernales has enjoyed experiencing the things she loves. “There’s a lot of nature here,” said Bernales. “Back home there wasn’t a lot of trees or nature, unless you were in a certain part of Peru, you rarely saw it in the city where I lived.”

Plants have been an important part of her life, and has a garden back home. She is in the process of making a garden at her cousin’s house.

Bernales plans to leave early April, but may come back a few weeks later. “It was cool to be the tourist in a different city,” said Bernales. “Lima is the main city in Peru, so usually I’m not the tourist so it was a cool change.”