Anna Dixon

 Italy

Hometown: Thonotosassa, Florida
School: The Paidiea School of Tampa Bay
Sponsor District : District 6890
Sponsor Club: , Florida
Host District: 2050
Host Club: The Rotary Club of Cremona-Po


My Bio


Ciao! My name is Anna Dixon. I'm sixteen years old, and my year abroad will be in Italy! I live with my mother, father, and my two younger sisters outside of Tampa, Florida. I've always been interested in learning about other cultures. I’m a good student and I love to learn. At my school, all my classes are honors and I take two dual enrollment courses, which means I take two classes at college. In my free time I enjoy singing in a youth choir, which sings all over the world, and practicing martial arts. I also love being with my friends and helping around the house with my parents. Without my family’s support, I wouldn’t be able to participate in all my interests. I'm in 10th grade and I go to the Paidiea School of Tampa Bay, which is a small, private, liberal arts school. I'm so thrilled to be a part of the Rotary youth exchange program and I can't wait to experience something life-changing, which is Rotary. Sometimes this feels like a dream and I have to keep looking at my acceptance letter to make sure it truly is reality. I know that it will be difficult to leave my family for a year but I’m so grateful to Rotary and my family for encouraging me to enter this unbelievable program. During my exchange I hope to meet new friends, experience cultures dissimilar to my own, and expand my knowledge. I think that understanding new things and being away from my family will help me grow in maturity. I'm incredibly excited to be given this chance. Grazie!

The streets of Cremona

The streets of Cremona

The Cathedral

The Cathedral

Outside of the Cathedral

Outside of the Cathedral

Rotary meetings

Rotary meetings

My birthday cake!

My birthday cake!

I am on TV ;)

I am on TV ;)

Journals: Anna-Italy Blog 2017-18

  • Anna, Outbound to Italy

    Last week my mom called me to tell me that my blog posts needed more content than me just writing my feelings down. She said I should probably start writing about what I have done and where I have gone. I am going to and I thought I was already doing that, but as I read back I realize she was right and for the most part all of my blogposts were about something other than my adventures and more about the dramas and exhausting situations Exchange students find themselves in. I like to write these things down because if I don’t, I know I will forget them and even though at times I really do want to forget how dramatic being a 17 year old girl in another country, surrounded by other dramatic 17 year olds is, I know that it’s not what my mom wants to read about, and probably not anyone else. 

    For Christmas and New Years, I went on a trip with my family to the south of Italy. As I have probably written before, my host parents are both southerners. Christmas was spent in Macerata, a small but beautiful city in the central area of Italy, near the Adriatic coast. We spent a week there. Then, for New Years, we went to a small town in Puglia, where my host mom is from, San Marco in Lamis. We spent eight days there. While I was in San Marco, I went on a lot of little trips with my host dad to interesting places that are greatly revered in Puglia and the south. The south has a patron saint whose name is Padre Pio. My host dad took me to his crypt, and I saw his body, still in perfect condition. Padre Pio is so famous and so loved that it is almost more of a sin to take his name in vain than God’s. My host nonno has a huge tattoo of Pio’s face on his left shoulder. I got to see three Churches that were constructed in honor of Pio. I also visited a city that looks out on the Manfredonian Coast. The day before we left for Cremona, my host dad took me to Napoli (Naples). We visited every single landmark in one day, which Gino (host dad) called a “miracle”. The day we all returned to Cremona it snowed in Macerata. Since we had to go through Macerata to get home, I was able to see it. This was my second time seeing snow in Italy and in my life. I really, really don’t like the cold, or the grey that comes with it, but snow is very beautiful. The few days before school started were taken up with activities because I was invited to both Venice and Milan right after each other. I had a great time in both cities but now I wish I had said no and just slept and recuperated after a long two weeks with my family. Now school has started and the Short Term exchange students who arrived in December are starting to go back to their home countries. Their exchange is only for 6 weeks and to me that is so unbelievably short I cannot even imagine it. I get jealous that my other long-term exchange friends are getting to stay until August or September while I must leave in July. I can’t explain how much I love my family because there are not words in English for how I feel. They are so different from my family in Florida, yet so similar, in the ways that count. I really appreciate them and though I know that it is hard to take care of a child that isn’t their own, they really make an effort to make me feel like I am a part of them. I also love having a brother so much. In Florida, I have two little sisters and though I love them, sisters can be mean in ways brothers can’t imagine. Anyway, tomorrow I will go to one of the gyms in Cremona to buy a membership and see if I like it. I came to Italy very thin and very fit, and I want to leave with me at least staying as fit as possible, if I can’t accomplish thin. Until next time! 

    Click HERE to read more about Anna and all her blogs

  • Anna, Outbound to Italy

    Since it is my 3-month-anniversary, I figured that I should really sit down and write about what Italian school is like, and what I am enjoying most about my exchange at this moment.

    Italian school is difficult. My school in Florida expects me to have marks by the end of the year, and let me tell you, I am very worried. I have a modified schedule but since it is not in effect yet, I am in each lesson that my class participates in. In Italian school the children do not change classrooms. The teachers do. I actually really like this because, even though the students don’t have that precious in-between-class-pretending-to-get-their-books time, I believe that it wastes less time, and if a class is late, it isn’t the students fault – it is the teacher’s fault. My day is set up like this; I wake up at 6:45 in the morning in order to comfortably eat breakfast, get dressed, comb my hair, brush my teeth, check my backpack, and walk to the bus stop. I have to be at the stop by 7:15, or else. I listen to music on my way to school to put me in a happy mood before I see everyone at school. We have different lessons per day. On a typical Tuesday I would have Italian Literature and Language (very difficult class in which I understand niente), Latino (which I usually take with the first years because it is very different from the way I learned), Chemistry, Physics, and Gym. Probably the most interesting “test-like” thing teachers give in Italian school are “interrogations”. Interrogations are when a teacher schedules one of their students to come up during the lesson and then the teachers ask them very hard and complex questions about the subject matter they have learned. It is very embarrassing, even for the students who aren’t scheduled for the interrogation, because when the student that is chosen does not understand the work or did not study, the teachers are very passionate and disappointed.

    Italian students do not party or go out with friends late into the night during the week, for the most part. They are busy studying. It always makes me laugh when I am on my bus home from school because it is very quiet and the teenagers and children are finishing homework on their way home. Also, when I say “late into the night”, in Italy this has a different meaning than in my family in Florida. Late into the night means that it maybe isn’t morning yet.

    The worst thing about Italian school is school on Saturdays. Some schools have it, some don’t. Mine does. I am the only one awake on Saturday morning at 6:45, preparing for school, because my host father is a teacher at a school that doesn’t have classes on Saturdays, my host mother only works during the week, and my host brother has no school as well.

    The most frustrating thing about learning a new language is that when you understand someone or something that only speaks, or is in Italian, you cannot go to your teacher or your Italian friend and say, “Oh my god! I understood and this is what it is in English, let me tell you!” You cannot say this because they will either not understand or not care.

    The best thing about being an exchange student in Italy is that there is no taxes on food, clothes, or supplies. Only on houses and vehicles (which the percentage of tax to income is around 25%). Yes, things are still somewhat expensive, especially because the euro is stronger than the U.S. dollar, but if you don’t think about it, it seems reasonable.

    You may have already known this, but dryers are not used in Europe. If you want a nice, warm, freshly dried pair of jeans on a cool, windy day, too bad! But it is okay because Italians iron everything.

    I am in Italy, so everyone I see must be fashionable, right? And beautiful? Well. No. It is hilarious to me because I see women and men with designer clothes, or a designer item “statement piece”, but it doesn’t have to be beautiful. In fact, it could be really unattractive but because it is a brand item, they will wear it.

    Right now, for teenage girls, the rage fashion in Italy is;

    A thick jean jacket

    A loose fitting shirt, cropped or tucked in

    Very tight, high-waisted jeans

    White shoes (Adidas, Vans, Nike, or Converse)

    Straightened hair

    This is the outfit I see over a hundred times each day. It is cute and comfortable, and it doesn’t make you stick out of the crowd too much. I think that it is supposed to convey that “I am edgy and gorgeous, and I am also naturally stylish” Italian vibe.

    The most cringe-worthy fashion trend I have seen on men of all ages in Italy is super-skinny jeans. I never realised how much I had never wanted to see that until I had seen it, which unfortunately is just how it goes.

    Everyone smokes in Italy. Even 11 year old girls smoke outside of their middle schools. Almost anyone who looks old enough and has the money can buy cigarettes. But, the food here is incredible. My host mother and my host father are wonderful cooks, and my host brother wants to be a chef and goes to cooking school. I was under the illusion, however, that in Europe there are smaller portions than in the United States. Maybe Italy is an exception but whoever said that lied to your face and you should expect to be fed A LOT of food. At first I could only eat a very little amount for each meal, but as I started biking more and taking longer walks with my host mother, I am able to eat almost as much as them or as much depending on how hungry I am.

    Click HERE to read more about Anna and all her blogs

  • Anna, Outbound to Italy

    I have been in Italy for three days. My family is unbelievably wonderful. They do not speak that much English at all; only my host father can speak it. This is good, however, because it forces me to communicate in Italian when I can. It is frustrating because I have taken enough Italian that I can understand most of what the Italians say to me or around me, but I cannot say what I desire to say back in Italian. I am now speaking this complicated mix of English and Italian that is confusing to both Italians and other exchange students. I visited Cremona for a few minutes and my host father and brother showed me the Cathedral which was breathtaking. They said they will take me all the way to the top of the bell-tower one day. Cremona is famous for their violins. I also visited Piacenza to get my bus pass for school. Piacenza is an industrial city that houses most of the car, clothing, and furniture manufacturers in Northern Italy. My host father told me that there are many illegal immigrants in Piacenza from Africa and the Middle East because they can work in the factories. Castelvetro Piacentino (my town) is very small. It is only 3km, which is almost 2 miles. It is famous for its cheese and milk. My host family has a huge slice of  parmesan that we take slivers off of before lunch and dinner. One thing about Italy is that they eat a lot of food! I am not used to have three-five course meals yet! Today we also finished my paperwork and now it finally feels almost real. It is still like a wonderful dream that I can't quite wake up from.

    Click HERE to read more about Anna and all her blogs

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