Laura Dufresne: From Switzerland to Hopkinton


Dufresne and exchange student friends enjoying the Red Sox Parade

In the southwest corner of Switzerland, the small French-speaking Geneva is home to a young, ambitious Laura Dufresne. From skiing the majestic, but steep, Alps to a decade of hard work in figure skating, Dufresne likes keeps herself busy.

“I’ve been part of classical & contemporary dance since I was a young girl because it helped me develop good balance for figure skating,” Dufresne said.

Laura Dufresne figure skating in Switzerland

Sports and piano lessons aren’t the only things keeping Dufresne busy. She has a love for learning new languages and wishes to work as a diplomat one day.

“I want to work in the United Nations because I know I’ll be working for a good cause and traveling the world to work for peace,” Dufresne said.

Aside from French and English, Dufresne is also learning Swiss German and will soon start learning Italian.

But learning new languages also means experiencing new challenges. Dufresne learned English by listening to music and watching American TV shows. Throughout middle school, she often found herself not having enough confidence to speak it to people, but she overcomes those obstacles by believing in herself.

“It was very hard for me to start speaking English with people because I was afraid of making mistakes but once I told myself that making mistakes was the only way to get better, it helped me a lot,” Dufresne said.

Dufresne slowly prepared herself to study abroad in the United States. After doing her research, she decided Massachusetts was where she wanted to go. The interesting city life of Boston and the good education system caught her attention. So she packed her life up in a couple of bags and headed for the USA. She currently attends Hopkinton High School in Hopkinton, Massachusetts and is enrolled as a senior.

Apart from attending a new school and getting a taste of a different lifestyle, Dufresne also has a new family. She, along with her host sister, Beatrice from Italy, are still adjusting to the new lifestyle.

“Even small things like the food have taken time to adjust to, but I think having Laura there with me has made things easier because we are both going through the adjustments together,” Beatrice said.

Dufresne finds adjusting to new climates very easy at times because she is constantly traveling. She has visited many countries in Asia, Africa, Europe, and South America. Meeting new people and trying new things has always been something she enjoys. Living in New England, she’s been able to try New England favorites like Dunkin’ Donuts, seafood, American football, hockey, and baseball games.

“I went to a Boston Bruins game for the first time a couple of months ago and I loved it. I even got a hoodie with the logo to remember it,” Dufresne said.

Dufresne, along with new friends also studying abroad, got a little taste of New England. After the big Red Sox and Patriot wins, Dufresne and friends celebrated the big win in Boston along with millions of fans.

Photo: Hopkinton High Exchange Students
Hopkinton High Exchange Students at a Friends-giving dinner

“It was cool watching sports like American football with Americans. It is something we don’t normally do back in our countries, especially Europe where Laura and I are from,”  Chloe San Agustin, an exchange student from Spain, said.

But Dufresne isn’t done studying abroad. During her experience in the States, she realized studying abroad is exactly what she wants to be doing. Dufresne is interested in studying abroad in England and Canada.

“Trying out a new education system and meeting new people has been the scariest but best thing ever,” Dufresne said.

Studying abroad does come with a little bit of homesickness, however. No matter how far you go, home is always where one feels the most welcome. Dufresne says she feels the same way at times and is eager to see her friends and family soon.

“I miss my old daily routine and all my friends that I grew up with but I think everyone needs to leave where they feel most comfortable sometimes. When you do this, you put yourself in situations that you never thought you could be in and amaze yourself at what you could do,” Dufresne said.

Facetiming and phone calls help Dufresne, but they make her miss her country and people a little bit more.

“It feels nice to take a little break and speak in my native language with my mom and friends,” Dufresne said.

But even with all the obstacles and struggles, Dufresne has one piece of advice for any students planning on studying abroad.

“Don’t let fear stop you from practicing the foreign language and talking to people because trust me, it will only get easier if you actually do it,” Dufresne said.