Laurel Porter
2013-14 Outbound to Italy

Hometown: Englewood, Florida
School: Lemon Bay High School
Sponsor: District 6960, Florida
Host: The Rotary Club of Pompei Oplonti Vesuvio Est

Laurel's Bio

Ciao! My name is Laurel Mae Porter and I cannot begin to explain how happy I am. I can tell you, however, that any happiness that I am feeling is probably thanks to the fact that I will be spending my senior year of high school as an exchange student in Italy! All of my life I have dreamed of traveling around the world and now it is finally happening! I was raised in the small town of Englewood, FL and it is time for me to wave good-bye to my friends and family and say hello to the first step of the rest of my life. My (soon to be) former high school just has not been cutting it anymore and it is time to move past it. Sure, I have great friends that support me, classes that I love (genetics and Spanish), and activities that I enjoy (marching band and color guard), but there is no way that I could ever pass this opportunity up. I am really looking forward to this entire experience as it helps me to grow into the Laurel that I envision.

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Laurel's Journals

October 1, 2013

No. of Days - 30

I’m not sure how it happened, but I have found myself in the most wonderful and welcoming country.

I left on August 31 from the Sarasota airport. After a quick flight to Charlotte, North Carolina, I embarked on my transatlantic journey. I reached Frankfurt, Germany the next morning and managed to get lost twice. Luckily, a nice customs officer pointed me in the right direction. My flight to Naples was, by far, the most exciting -- I was going to be in my new home so soon! I arrived safely and was greeted by my host mother, sister, uncle, and cousin as well as the president of the Pompei Oplonti Vesuvio Est Club and his wife. The ride to the building where I live was full of smiles and hand gestures and I could already tell that I was going to be happy in this first family.

I swear that I felt right at home from the moment I stepped into my new home. My host sister, Serena, and her friend, Bianca (who I now consider to be my friend too!!), helped me to unpack and did all they could to make sure I knew how everything worked in the apartment. I showed them pictures of my friends and my former school and we Skyped my mother together. After I finished unpacking, it was time to eat!!

Now, I’m sure most everyone knows the stereotypical Italian mother figure that says “mangia!!” and heaps more and more food onto your plate. Well, guess what. That’s my host mother. Carla, my host mom, is always making sure that I get enough to eat and won’t listen when I say “sono piena!” or “non posso mangiare più.” Somehow, I have found that the food here is much more filling (and delicious) than it is in the United States and I can barely finish what is on my plate.

I cannot begin to wrap my head around everything I’ve done here. Only a few days after I arrived, I got the chance to go to the Pompeii ruins! My Rotary club here was sponsoring some sort of convention where Rotarians from all different countries came together and spent time learning about Italian culture. It was wonderful to meet so many awesome Rotarians (plus, I got a lot of pins for my blazer!). I have decided that Rotarians are the most humorous and the most dedicated people in the entire world. No matter where they are from, they are all so kind and generous.

I have been here for a month and, honestly, it feels like just a few days. I’m amazed that I already have a routine and friends and that I feel like I actually fit in. None of this would be possible without the support and help of my friends, family, and -of course- the wonderful organization that is Rotary.