‘The Secret Diary of an Exchange Student’ Summary & Ending, Explained


It’s hard to abandon one’s eternal dream, and passionate ones are ready to hit all the marks to realize their dream. Netflix’s The Secret Diary of an Exchange Student pictures the adventure of such a zealous soul, Barbara. Her dream of seeing the whole world lands her on odd jobs and escapades. She is as confused as we all are yet doesn’t let doubt or any hurdle come in the way of dreams. It’s Barbara’s story and narrates it with delight.

The Secret Diary of an Exchange Student is a Portuguese Language film written and directed by Bruno Garotti. It is produced by W.B Studios that lands on streaming giant Netflix to tickle the audience.

‘The Secret Diary of an Exchange Student’ Plot Summary

A 23-year-old Barbara (Larissa Manoela) lives with her single mother in Rio de Janeiro and aspires to visit the whole world. Her economic savings laughs out loud at her exotic ambitions, but Barbara is ardent. She starts working at Rio International Airport selling “Dream Trip” Magazine Subscription to passing passengers. The magazine stall owner, Mr. Helio, has promised Barbara a free trip if she completes her goal. But after facing a series of failures, Barbara leaves the job.

On her last day at the airport, Barbara accidentally meets Bradly, a New York-based flight attendant who speaks fluent Portuguese. The two get along and Brad promises Barbara to take her to America at his expense. Overwhelmed with joy, Barbara applies for a Visa but gets rejected. Finally, she applies for an au pair exchange program in the USA to solve the VISA and monetary conflict. In her adventure, she takes her best friend, Taila, with her. Soon the duo boards the first flight of their life to live and study in the USA.

Barbara abodes a single mother, Sheryll’s house, who is a busy lawyer and thus needed a nanny to take care of her 2-year-old son. In exchange, she covers Barbara’s expenses. While Taila is taken care of by the Kenner family, whose only daughter who worked for the NSA suddenly disappeared during a mission. They signed up for the program because they wanted a company. Barbara and Taila soon realize that American life isn’t what they expected, but it is too late to back off. They try to settle and adapt to the new culture, facing new challenges with enthusiasm until they cannot handle the conflict. Will Barbara run away or stay back in America to make her dreams come true?

Drama Leading to Climax

Through Brad, Barbara found out about an aviation school and its flight attendant course that could give wings to her dreams. However, Barbara’s caretaker Sheryll had already paid for the English course and wasn’t much impressed by clumsy Barbara to spend a penny more. A dejected Barbara faced another blow when she discovered that Brad cheated on her with her best friend, Taila. The revelations pushed Barbara off the rails. She was comforted by her new American friend, Lucas, who worked at Kenner’s ski resort.

In the meantime, Kenner planned on adopting Taila as their daughter. Still, eventually, their real daughter, Katherine, came back from captivity in the Columbian Jungle. Katherine suspected Taila was an undercover agent working for the Colombian government. Thus, she threatened Taila, making her stay a living hell, literally. But Taila didn’t have anyone to seek help because her only friend cut off all ties after her scandal with Brad.

When Jeff Kenner found out Lucas had been inappropriately using the Ski resort’s perks for Barbara, he fired Lucas from the job. Lucas had no option but to visit her mother, Zoraia, in New York until his university acceptance letter arrived. But conflict is something that keeps the drama wild. Zoraia was deported to Brazil by the ICE, and Lucas sneaked into Sheryll’s house. Lucas had an expired VISA and thus would be deported if ICE found him. Still, Barbara decided to give him shelter he cracks his University Interview.

In a Shakespearean Comedy Climax style, The Secret Diary of an Exchange Student invited all its characters at one location for the final conclusion that contributed brilliantly and equally to a humorous mess.

As the end result, Lucas and Brad were arrested for assault and battery. Mr. Paredes, the interviewer from the university, was thrashed by Brad, and thus, he rejected Lucas’ application. The ICA protest crowd didn’t add much to the mess, but it was there to give it a “crowdy” touch. Last but not least, Barbara saved Taila from Katherine. Kat was arrested by the police.

‘The Secret Diary of an Exchange Student’ Ending Explained

Sheryll was displeased with Barbara’s act of inviting strangers to her house. Yet, she saw a commendable effort in all the chaos. Barbara stood by what she believed, and Sheryll appreciated her zeal. She offered to help Lucas in court sort out Barbara’s mess.

Brad pleaded with the judge to drop the battery charges against Lucas as it was all due to a colossal misunderstanding. However, the charges of illegal permanence against Lucas were still standing tall.

Through fellow protestors, Barbara found out that Lucas’ mother, Zoraia, came to America with a tourist VISA and went back to Brazil with an invalidated passport. There was an eight years gap between the time she lived in America and Brazil. Barbara was informed by Zoraia that Lucas was eight when she came to America, which meant Zoraia was already pregnant when she moved back to Brazil. In simple words, Lucas’ father was American, and Zoraia got pregnant in America.

The plot holes were filled by Barbara in the court of law, who informed the judges Lucas’ father was none other than Bradley Hamlin. Zoraia worked as a babysitter in Brad’s house when he was a teenager. She was only a year older than Brad, and thus falling in love was inevitable with someone that lived so close. However, when Brad’s family found out about their forbidden romance, they reported Zoraia to immigration and deported her. Brad and Zoraia lost contact when she had to go back to Brazil, but at the moment, she had no idea that she was pregnant. Finally, Brad found her Portuguese babysitter he was madly in love with.

In the end, Brad proposed to Zoraia, and they got married. Brad also became Lucas’s father that helped him get a second chance at the university. Though, this time, Lucas was exploring his calling rather than a college degree. He enrolled in a music school. Sheryll financed Barbara’s flight attendant course, and she finally learned the art that would make her dreams come true. Katherine returned home from custody and made peace with Taila. All along, Kat was inquiring Taila about her favorite pet, the dead squirrel buried in their garden. The “chipmunk” body had a chip (USB) that contained confidential research data gathered by Kat on her espionage mission in Brazil.

Finally, for Taila and Barbara to take a leave from America. Brad published Barbara’s travel report in her favorite “Dream Trip” magazine. After finishing her course, Barbara became a flight attendant bracing up for new adventures and visiting the new lands, realizing her dream to its full potential.

“A trip that made me discover the world. And, more importantly, that made me discover who I was. After all, to grow, you’ve got to try new things.”


The Secret Diary of an Exchange Student is a 2021 Romantic Adventure film directed by Bruno Garotti. It is streaming on Netflix.

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Shikhar Agrawal
Shikhar Agrawal
I am an Onstage Dramatist and a Screenwriter. I have been working in the Indian Film Industry for the past 12 years, writing dialogues for various films and television shows.

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