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Italian Exchange Student Describes First Days in Oregon

CHI year-long exchange student Tommaso Giacomino, from Italy, took a moment to write about his first day in an American high school for his schools blog, The Clarion.

Here is what he wrote…

Hi Vikings!

I’m an Italian exchange student from Rome, and I’m going to study as a senior in this school for the whole year!

I arrived in the U.S. on August 27th, landing in New York. I visited this amazing city for two days, and the thing I loved most was the boat trip we had down to the Statue of Liberty and then back passing by the Manhattan skyline and under the Brooklyn Bridge: it was awesome!

Then on the 30th I moved to Chicago, where I passed three hours trying not to sleep as I feared to miss the plane, and finally headed to Portland. The last 40 minutes of the last flight were simply stunning: Oregon is beautiful and lush with breathtaking landscapes.

At the Portland airport I found my Host Family and my Local Coordinator waiting for me and I was extremely glad to meet them all! Leaving the airport’s parking, my Host Mum played “Lose yourself” with her mobile, and I loved singing my favorite song with them.

My Host Family is cool! There are four of them: Monica, the 33-years-old mum, and her three children who’re Colette (12), Emma (9) and Logan (7). I already get along very well with them; they’re nice and kind to me and the children always want to play with me.

The first differences I noticed between Rome and Salem are the layouts and the weather. In big Italian cities we don’t have small houses with at maximum two grounds, a little backyard or front yard and the garage as well. We have tall buildings with two, three apartments each floor and no courtyards or garages. Because of these we have more concentrated towns where there’s no need to drive the car everyday.

In Rome there’s much hotter climate until the end of September, and temperatures start decreasing slowly in October, but they’re never extremely freezing.

On top of this, here everything is bigger: houses, cars, hamburgers; and we don’t have the idea of bottomless drinks or fries in restaurants. But we’ve got pasta!

Schools here versus there are almost from different planets. In Italy we have different kinds of high school and each one focuses on different subjects: scientific, humanistic, languages, tourism, psychology, economy; there are also professional high schools which teach you to be electricians, wood master and so on and military schools. We don’t have electives; we must study all the 10, 11 subjects of our school, but they aren’t all every day or always in the same period. We don’t have to move from one room to the other: teachers, who are generally less helpful and friendly than here, goes over the next class. Because of this our high schools are smaller, and you won’t find a cafeteria, three gyms, an auditorium in there. In Italy there aren’t high school dances nor school sports nor school bands, nor cheerleaders, nor school newspapers. We even have worse bathrooms. Though, students are more prepared after five years of Italian high school than after four of American, as Italian school is more demanding and stricter.

This is why from North I expect to study different things, such as A.P.U.S. History, Marketing and economics; doing new activities such as writing here and playing basketball with my school. It will be amazing!

I want to come back home with a perfect English, convictions about my future, maturity and good friends. I think living one year in the U.S. will give me the ability to understand the world from a new point of view, which is something very cool!

Before leaving I had a lot of great expectations about this year, and they all surprisingly turned to be true! I hope I’ll get the most out of these 9 months and that you’ll accept me as a part of our school!

Tommaso Giacomini

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