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.

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