What a month Settembre has been. We have safely arrived here in Viterbo, after stealthily avoiding Hurricane Irene upon our departure in Boston’s airport. Upon arrival, my host family has been nothing but a dream. I live with a mother and father who do not speak a word of English, and I have a 24-year-old sister, who speaks very little English. We live in a small town home near school, where I can walk to school or take the town’s bus—both of which are new experiences for me.
I’ve officially adjusted to the time zone (we are 7 hours ahead of Nashville time) and the weather here is bellissima, with warm days and cool nights, it still feels like summer here. After taking placement tests and an 8 hour crash course in Italian, the first week of school was cut short because of the holiday here called Festa di Santa Rosa. Similar to our Labor Day, the holiday commemorates the closing of summer and the hard work to come, along with a parade of 100 men carrying of the five-story high “Macchina di Santa Rosa” through Viterbo. This year was the 760th consecutive celebration of the event and the thrill and reverence of the holiday was my initiation to Italian culture…an experience I will never forget.
Here I am studying AP Calculus, Intensive Italian (2 hour class), Art History, Ancient History, and English. I do have a lot of work, but I have felt nothing but prepared for class discussions and have picked up material and the amount of work with ease. Coming to Italy, I was worried about the rumored intensity of class here, but after my first month of classes, I am feeling confident and comfortable with what my teachers have given me.
Nevertheless, it has been a challenge to find a new routine in which I get my work done, apply for college, study for the SAT and ACT (both of which I have the comfort of taking here in Italy at my school), get to know my host family and live in a new home, socialize with the American students, keep in touch with Nashville, and find my way around Viterbo. Somehow, I have figured it out what works and what does not and I am currently living a crash course of time management.
One of the things I love about this program is the variety of students, staff, and day-to-day: everyday is a new adventure here. For example, I am learning Calculus from the former captain of the champion US Physics team. I am reading British literature by a true British man and just finished the classic A Room With A View, in which I have found more connections to my new life in Italy just as the protagonist Lucy does. My Ancient History teacher speaks little English and has us all on our toes with what English word he will make up next. Aside from school, the meals here are work in itself and I am learning how to cook the true Italian way from my host family. I also was lucky enough to go to a friend of my host sister’s wedding, which was a 12-hour marathon eating, dancing, and celebrating.
I have just returned from our class retreat, where we ventured south to Terracina, Gaeta, and Sperlonga, Italy. With perfect weather, during the day we ventured to the beach and did educational activities in museums, while at night, we socialized with teachers and oriented students. The wind is picking up and I can tell the weather is about to change, but my Italian experience has been “tranquilla” thus far and I look forward to what new experiences lie ahead!
PS. I have been keeping up with EHS Football and cannot be more proud of my Tigers! I hope you can still hear me cheering thousands of miles away…