Sophie dal Canada: i miei primi fantastici quattro mesi in Italia

To put the last 4 months into a one page long essay is simply insufficient. I’d maybe be able to cover the surface of so many new emotions I've experienced that I never even knew existed. However, I will do my best to give you a short insight into my life as an Exchange Student in Italy.

If you ask any student, I think they will all say their house is the best, and they were the luckiest students. I genuinely believe that is untrue because I’d give that to my placement. For ASSE to have placed me in such a place, makes me believe they are made up of fairy godmothers, giving students one night as Cinderella that actually goes for 9 months. Being matched with the family, town, school, life that I had been given, seems like a gift no one deserves, however by some amazing chance, I was given it.

My whole life for this year was planned in legal documents, signatures, visa’s, etcetera before I had gotten on the plane that would take me here. I knew what my life would be like; I read it in many pamphlets. I’d heard it from adults, saying, “this will be the best experience of your life,” or “you will come back a completely different person,” and after hearing the same thing so many times, I had a mix of fear and disbelief, however reading documents of my future life and hearing things from so many people doesn't even begin to cover it.

Life in Italy smells like rain, sounds like a new melody, tastes like coffee with a teaspoon of sugar. Everything is new. Everything is different. And though not everything is perfect, it’s very close. And yes, the coffee tastes better in Italy. The people here are definitely different than in Canada. I’ve hugged people I’ve never even met more times than I’ve hugged my Canadian best friend. However, sometimes different is good, and in this case, different is definitely good. The amount of love I’ve received from my host sister, the laughs I’ve had with a boy in my class, gossip with my friend who is fluent in English, and the best group of friends I could ask for, make me never want to go back to normal. Different is definitely the way for me.vMy host sister and I said we love each other the third week I was here. Fairly fast, I won’t lie, but you’d be surprised what you can find out from a person by sleeping next to them. Now that it’s been more than three weeks, she’s become my best friend, my sister (without the petty sibling fights), a very important person to me. My host mother has become another parent to me, who did a spectacular job at making me feel welcomed. She always works very hard for us. My younger host sister brings a wonderful light to the house with her charm and innocence. It’s been a while since I got to pretend to be Santa Claus.

In a section of one of the booklets every student had been sent before leaving, it went over the feelings you’ll have before coming back, how you’ll be really sad and frustrated, and I’ve seen videos of other exchange students saying their leaving was so much worse than their coming. I took this with a grain of salt. I shouldn’t have. I still have so many more seasons to experience here (we haven't even gotten snow) and yet, the idea of leaving makes me sick to my stomach. I dread the day where I have to say my goodbyes and leave the place I found true happiness, however that pushes me to enjoy life as it is. Every bad class, every bitter moment, every tear, it’s life, and luckily for me, it's life in Italy. To anyone who is a future exchange student, I highly recommend it. The two months leading up to my leaving were some of the hardest weeks of my life. The fear of leaving those you hold so dear for a year fills you with anxiety I would be grateful to never experience it again, but the people you will meet, the things you will see, the life you’ll experience, makes up for missing your loved ones greatly. Experience life. Experience love. Experience everything. And the best way to experience, is away.

Sophie Collage

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