Uruguayan student tries out life in Ames

By the way Guillermo Thompson comfortably strolls through the hallways of Ames High, it’s hard to tell that he actually attended school in Uruguay up until November. Guillermo came to Ames a few months ago from Montevideo, the capital city of Uruguay, to visit his father. "Technically, I have already graduated from my high school back in Uruguay," Guillermo said. "But my father decided that since I’m here, I should be busy." Life in Ames couldn’t be more different for Guillermo. One of the first things he encountered after coming to Ames was a vicious snowstorm, his first time ever seeing snowfall. "I suffered," Guillermo said. "The winter here is terrible; winter in Uruguay is much warmer, you don’t have to stay indoors all the time." The school year in Uruguay starts in March and ends in November, and consists of 6 years of elementary education and 6 years of high school education. Guillermo finished his senior year there, then came directly to Ames High to complete another senior year. "The first thing I noticed after coming to Ames High was all the Apple computers," Guillermo said. "We had computers at my other school, but not all over the place like here. Here, there are a lot more opportunities; if you want to be on the football team, you can be on the football team. If you want to be on the swim team, you can be on the swim team. We didn’t have that at my other school." Students in Uruguay are not nearly as privileged or lucky as Ames High students. Sometimes, they band together to protest poor schooling conditions. "The students in Uruguay are a lot more organized," Guillermo said. "If there’s something the students don’t like, they all go on strike. Sometimes we protest the bad conditions for other schools as well as our own. People in Uruguay love politics; I think it’s just in the air. If something is wrong, they take a stand." The teenagers in Uruguay also experience a lot more freedom, according to Guillermo. The age of 18 represents a coming of age for American teenagers, but as long as they still live at home, they still have parental restrictions. "Being 18 in Uruguay is a radical change," Guillermo said. "It makes you feel a lot older, and you become much more free and independent." Adjusting to Ames was hard for Guillermo at first, and he misses Uruguay, but with the spring weather rolling in, Guillermo has a more positive outlook. "Ames in spring is nice and green," Guillermo said. "It was hard coming here at first, but this is just one step in my life."