Photo courtesy of Sara Santenelli
For Italian exchange student Sara Santinelli, Wilson was completely different from her school in Falconara, Italy. “It’s such a beautiful place. It’s big, like a city in Italy,” Santinelli said. When met with a dropped jaw, she laughed. “Yeah, I’m not joking! And our school, has, I think, 200 students, not more.”
Wilson participated in an exchange program with Liceo Cambi, a school in Falconara, in the end of October. The Italian students went to New York, and then to DC on September 26th, to stay with their Wilson student hosts for a week.
Santinelli said she enjoyed the exchange. She made more comparisons, and said that Italian students there study for about four hours each day, and that Liceo Cambi did not have any sports teams, so all teams in the area were clubs. “We just have a gym, not field for soccer or volleyball, nothing like that.”
Another Liceo Cambi student, Sofia Della Porta, mentioned that her school was “a scientific school, so we do math, science, these kinds of things.” The school is situated near the sea, which makes it “a good place to study.” After school, many of the students head down to the beach to hang out.
When asked about culture shock factors, Della Porta mentioned she was really interested by New York. “We stayed in New York, so it was crazy, really really crowded… very noisy, there are a lot of smells, different smells, but it was a beautiful experience, very cathartic.” She smiled, and also said that “DC is like… a quiet city, a silent city. It’s beautiful,” she said.
The calmness of DC was something unusual for the Italian exchange students, as in Falconara thievery is a big concern. “You don’t always think, ‘Oh my God, maybe someone has stolen something [in my bag]’,” Santinelli said. She explained that in Falconara, they wear their backpacks on their front sides to prevent thieves from cutting the straps to steal the bags.
When asked about the homecoming dance, Della Porta’s eyes lit up as she said her experience was “crazy.” Santinelli said that she had “so much fun,” and enjoyed the music and dancing. Hopefully Wilson students will like their exchange trips to Italy as much as the Italian students enjoyed theirs here!