I’ve interviewed my best friend Giulia who did an exchange program in America. She stayed there for 10 months during our 4th year of Liceo (High School, no clue what grade corresponds to it😁). In this Q&A Giulia is giving us some pros and cons about the USA as well as some useful tips. She was supported by the same organization I picked to go to Australia: BECASSE.
Giulia’s instagram: giulia_martini__
Why did you decide to go to America? I’d always wanted to visit the USA for some reason, maybe because of all the movies about high schools and teenage life in America I’d watched (which, by the way, all reflect what is like to be an American student quite perfectly) or it might be because I needed to prove myself that I could live in a different country by myself. Then one day, during my first year of high school, my brother brought it up and that was the moment I ever thought about it as a possibility and no longer a dream.
How long did you stay there for? I stayed there for 10 months, from August 1st till June 13th. At first, my mom was not happy about the whole “10 months away” experience so she talked me into joining the program for 5 months. I came around to it but then, once I was there, I knew I had to prolong my stay. Looking back, I think I made the right decision because the first semester was just for me to adjust, find new friends and get used to my new life there, while the second one is the one I really enjoyed.
Where did you stay and what other places did you visit? I lived in Noblesville, Indiana. It’s quite a small town, just 40 mins north of Indianapolis and it’s just a plain land where the only crop harvested is corn (which they like to cook with literally anything). I visited Chicago, Lake Michigan, Washington DC, Miami and Fort Lauderdale.
How was your host family? Well, I can’t really say I was lucky with my first host family. It was a married couple, both around thirties, and both obsessed with crossfit and gym. Luckily, I was not the only exchange student in the house, I shared this experience with a German girl whom became one of my closest friend and helped me through it all. We switched to a different host family around Christmas time and that’s when we both started living the real American teenage life.
Three tips for future exchange students: First, be sure to dive into this new experience for the right reasons, don’t just join the program because you want to get away from your boring, dull life but most importantly don’t leave because your parents pushed you into it. Then, once you’re there, don’t be shy, talk to people! They all love exchange students and can’t wait to know more about you. Making friends is the key to a great, fulfilling exchange experience so don’t waste your lunch time eating in the bathroom for the first week or so (just like I did), go out there and talk, talk, talk! Last but not least, be positive. This is a once in a lifetime experience, you will NEVER be able to live anything even close to it so try and enjoy every second of it. Don’t compare your former “life” with this new one cause that’s not what this is all about. Try and do as much as you can and don’t miss out on anything.
Three things you miss about America:
I can’t think of just three things I miss about America because I miss the whole thing. I miss the fact that every Friday we would all watch our fellow students/friends play sports against other schools (game day), I miss Christmas with tons of presents, a huge party and a cook out, I miss my host family (the second one of course), I miss my friends there with whom I still keep in contact, I miss the family Thanksgiving dinner, I miss Spring break in Fort Lauderdale, prom and homecoming which were just as awesome as you would think they are. So, I pretty much miss it all.
Three things you missed from home while you were in America: Easy question. Italian food!!! I’m not saying that American food is gross or disgusting, I just think they put too much sauce into any dish, they just can’t eat a steak without sinking it into a sea of mushroom sauce. It tastes delicious but makes you feel sick right after you take the first bite. They all tell you that you will start missing home after your honeymoon stage (which are the first couples of months) but to be completely honest I never really felt homesick because I knew that I only had 10 months there while I could most likely have a lifetime in Italy. But if I had to choose three things I was missing I would go for Italian food, my friends and family and my dog.
Best things you did there: Well, I would say Spring Break because we don’t have anything like it here in Italy and you really can’t even imagine how great it is going to turn out unless you’ve experience it at least once. I and other four friends of mine went to Fort Lauderdale, Florida and stayed in a huge villa with one of my friend’s parents. It was totally unexpected, I didn’t think it was going to be just like in the movies but it actually was. It was not only about parties on the beach, concerts on the beach and getting tanned on the beach, it was also about visiting and experience a different American State. The USA is a huge country and it’s crazy how different things are when you go from the North to the South or even cross just a couple of countries. The food is different, the language has a whole different accent, people have a whole different mentality and rules change. That’s another reason why you need to get out there and make new friends, because without them everything you will ever do won’t be as exciting and fun as if you had someone else along with you.
Some stereotypes and odd things: Well, we all think Americans are fat and I mean after living there for ten months and having tried most of their food I would’ve expected that too, but they’re actually not. At least, teenagers are quite fit and toned mostly because they have to get at least one gym class per semester. The problem is that once they get older, all that unhealthy food comes back to them and they start gaining weight.
They are all crazy patriotic, even crazier than our wildest stereotype. They put the American flag on everything, they say the “Pledge of Allegiance” every morning with their hand on their heart and they scream the American national anthem every chance they get.
I feel bad saying this next thing but most American teenagers are completely clueless about anything that is not American related and that’s mainly because that’s all they study at school. They do have the possibility to choose a European history class but it’s not mandatory so most people just skip it and take a different one.
It’s a wrap! Thank you, see ya later! X