Welcome Home Saints!

Get to know our Exchange Students!

Katie Stegeman and Sophia Meyer

            Traveling alone is no easy feat, not to mention traveling halfway around the world! For Antonia, Noah, and Emma, there was no hesitation in packing their suitcases and boarding a plane to America. Follow along as these new students learn to adapt to American culture and Aquinas tradition this school year.

Antonia Prat

            Coming to Aquinas all the way from Spain is Senior, Antonia Prat, staying with the Stegeman family. She chose to study abroad in America after encouragement from her parents, who met each other on a similar experience in San Francisco, and family friends from Kansas that connected her to Aquinas. 

Photo courtesy of Antonia Prat.

            Back home she lived with her parents, younger brother Giacomo, and two dogs. Antonia expresses that the hardest part of leaving Spain is the fact that she isn’t able to see her family or visit home at all this year. Back in Spain, Antonia enjoyed doing activities outside of school such as volleyball, tennis, and synchronized swimming.

Antonia Prat (left) poses with her host-sister Katie Stegeman (right) after arriving in Kansas. (Photo courtesy of Katie Stegeman)

            Although she has loved trying Reese’s and Chick-fil-A in America, Antonia’s favorite food from back home is Paella – rice with shrimp, mussels, and vegetables.

            Antonia learned English from watching American TV Shows, specifically The Vampire Diaries! Watching it and other American television shows with subtitles taught her to read and speak English. She speaks a total of five languages, her first language being a dialect called Catalan that includes elements of French and Italian.

            This school year, Antonia is most excited about school dances, football games, and school spirit, as these are things she has never experienced before. She is currently involved in Cheer and Key Club at Aquinas.



Noah Raknes


          Junior Noah Raknes came all the way from Norway for his exchange year at Aquinas. Noah is staying with the King family. He decided to study abroad because he “saw a Facebook ad and it seemed cool.”

Back home, Noah has two younger brothers and a Poodle. He expressed that the hardest part about leaving home was leaving behind his family, friends, and hometown. The toughest part of coming to Aquinas for Noah is that the school schedule and layout are drastically different than what he is used to.

Colby King (left) welcomes Noah Raknes (right) to Kansas. Photo courtesy of Colby King

One of Noah’s favorite foods from Norway is porridge which includes milk, rice, and cinnamon or vanilla powder. Since coming to America, he has enjoyed trying Chick-fil-A and Dr. Pepper.    

In Norway, Noah worked at a salmon shop in the winter and ran track and field. Bringing his talent with him to America, he runs for the Aquinas cross country team and got second in the team time trial held on August 27th. He is looking forward to the exciting season ahead. This year in Kansas, he is looking forward to Aquinas games and he hopes to attend a Chiefs football game as well.



Emma Zamboni

            Emma Zamboni is a senior from Italy and is staying with the Whiteside family. Back in Italy, Emma is one of five in her family, with two younger siblings. She states that they text every day and FaceTime a couple times a week. Although she finds it difficult to learn how to adapt to a new culture and leave her friends and family back home, she is ready to test herself, grow and mature, learn a new language, and live “the American dream.”

Emma poses in Central Park amidst the skyscrapers of New York. (Photo courtesy of Emma Zamboni)

             Already involved at Aquinas, Emma dances on the dance team, performs in Swingin’ Saints show choir, and even auditioned for the fall musical Freaky Friday. Back in Italy, she also danced, sang, and participated in musicals. Leaving Italy also means leaving the incomparable Italian food, which Emma misses a lot about back home, but she finds that her favorite food she has tried so far in the States is Mexican food.

       She is looking forward to

The Whiteside family welcomes Emma to America. (Photo courtesy of Mary Whiteside)

making many friends and attending school dances and football games, as Italian high school traditions vary from those in America. Emma observes that among the differences are lockers for students and helpful and kind teachers– “it’s not usually like that in Italy!”