Italian Exchange Student
by Reagan Rodgers
Lately, it seems that many Americans want to leave America, but citizens of other countries want to come here to learn our culture and experience the seemingly different planet that is America. Foreign exchange programs allow students from all over the world to go to other countries and learn more about the people and lifestyles other places have to offer.
Junior Elisa Nisi is an Italian exchange student that is spending the school year here in Seguin. For years, Nisi dreamed of coming to America and becoming an exchange student after growing up watching movies set in American high schools.
“Since I was a little child I loved America, and my dad loves America too, so he always talked to me about this country,” Nisi said. “Then in Italy I’m attending the course where the main subject is English so I wanted to learn English. I also talked to a lot of friends that were exchange students in the past and they told me that they lived the best experience of their lives so I started getting some information and I really loved it so I decided to become an exchange student.”
The differences between America and nearly every other country are generally obvious, though occasionally unexpected differences come up. Other than the different schooling systems or food, things as simple as a grocery store can completely take foreigners by surprise.
“Everything is weird for me because we have such different cultures and traditions,” Nisi said. “It’s another reality compared to Italy. It’s weird for me to wake up early to train before school, because in my country we have practice after school. Even the way lunch is served at school is different. The most fun parts were the things I had never seen before, such as football games, or the rodeo.”
Despite how exciting traveling to another country can be, it can also be difficult. Having to immerse completely into an unfamiliar culture can be an emotional and challenging process, and for Nisi this proved to be very true.
“The hardest part until now has been the beginning, because I had what people call ‘culture shock,’” Nisi said. “The first week I spent here it was like a vacation and I didn’t realize that I had left for a year, while the second week I did. I was homesick and I realized that I was changing my life. Another hard part was the first week of school, because I didn’t know anyone and it was hard to make friends, considering that I didn’t know how to fully speak English.”
There’s a stereotype of Texans that many Europeans seem to share wherein every Texan rides horses and wears cowboy hats. This didn’t stop Nisi from having Texas at the top of her travel list, though, and she was thrilled to find out it’s where she’d be staying.
“I was the happiest person in the world because I received my host family five days before leaving,” Nisi said. “I didn’t know where I was going until the end, and as soon as they told me that I was going to Texas, I started crying for the surprise. I was really happy. I still have to see a lot of things and live other experiences, but everything was as I expected it to be, if not better.”
Other than missing family and friends back home in Italy, Nisi has had an amazing time in America so far. She looks forward to continuing to learn more about the culture and everyday life of Texans and making new friends at school. Luckily for Nisi, students seemed to have really embraced the Italian and she’s quickly picked up on the lifestyles.