Senior Returns From Italy…With Friends

By: Solana Gagliano, Staff Reporter

Nikki D’Annunzio, a Thornton-Donovan School senior, recently returned from Italy with a group of Italian exchange students. I interviewed her to find out her impressions about the country.

Q: Where did you stay in Italy?

D’Annunzio: Arezzo, Tuscany. It’s in central Italy.

Q: How long did you stay so far?

D’Annunzio: I lived in Arezzo for six weeks.

Q: What was your overall impression of the country?

D’Annunzio: Italy is charming, serene, and…different. Life in Italy is much slower than American life; at the same time, it is very engaging.

Q: Did you enjoy speaking with the Italians in their language?

D’Annunzio: Though I [did] struggle sometimes, I enjoy[ed] speaking Italian with my Italian friends.

Q: Were there any challenges when you first arrived?

D’Annunzio: Of course; I had to adjust to the Italian lifestyle, speak another language, and learn how to depend on myself (and, of course, my host families).

Q: What activities did you do there?

D’Annunzio: Well, other than constantly parading the streets of Arezzo, I attended two very different schools. I also visited larger Italian cities like Rome, Siena, Cortona, and Florence.

I think that Ben Rufa, Rayaan Ba, and Gavin Tomlinson are going to meet the Pope soon.

Q: What was your reaction to their culture?

D’Annunzio: Initially, I was shocked by the Italians’ closeness and affection. Italians seem to prioritize their family and social relations (Americans do so as well, but, to a lesser degree). Italian culture is obviously different. At first, I was overwhelmed by this difference. After about a week, I was able to adequately adjust to it.

Q: What did you learn?

D’Annunzio: To sum it up in a few words: This trip exposed me to an entirely different culture, reinforced my support of international education, and even helped me reflect on myself.

Q: Did the Italian exchange students like Halloween? If so why?

D’Annunzio: Though I am putting words in their mouth, I believe that the Italian exchange students liked Halloween. Halloween in Italy is just another party holiday; it is very hard to find Italians Trick-O-Treating. I believe that the Italians enjoyed celebrating this very Americanized holiday.

Q: Do they think the USA is very different from Italy? Are there any similarities?

D’Annunzio: Yes, the US is very different from Italy. Both countries exhibit very different cultures and cultural values. Though these cultural differences are very prominent, I still believe that the two countries share similarities. In Italy, I was able to joke around and communicate in a similar manner as I do with my American friends. I was amazed when I realized that I could somehow relate to such a different group of people.

Q: What were the Italians most excited to see/experience in the US?

D’Annunzio: Bustling New York City life sharply contrasts from the slow life in Arezzo; I’m sure the Italians were shocked and amazed by the city.

Q: What did they learn?

D’Annunzio: I believe that these students are not able to participate in cultural exchanges as much as we do; therefore, I believe that they were definitely impacted by our American host families and students. On these trips, people usually form irreplaceable bonds with others. I know I did, so I hope they did as well.