In August, a 16-year-old, Roman teenager stepped foot onto her new temporary home: America.
Junior Giulia Azzarello is a transfer student from Rome, Italy. She is currently staying with junior Destinee Aranda and her family.
Studying abroad is popular amongst teenagers in Europe, thus, Azzarello is familiar with being away from home.
“It’s not my first time [studying abroad],” Azzarello said. “In the summer of 5th and 6th grade (or 4 and 5 – I can’t remember) I went to a campus in Italy for two weeks where I was also studying English. And in 9th, 10th, and 11th grade, I went to the UK [to study] in college and see family for two to three weeks. These types of programs are quite popular in Italy – not just here but also in Canada, Australia, UK and many more.”
Several of her friends decided to study abroad this year and Azzarello wanted to as well. Azzarello had an interest in coming to the United States because she wanted to come to college here, in America.
Azzarello was originally staying with a “house-mom” as her host, but encountered issues. Around this time, she had met Aranda in her English 11 class when they were partnered together to peer review each other’s essays.
“We just started talking and became best friends in like a week,” said Aranda. “She actually came to me [to be her host] and I asked my parents we talked about it for a couple days and we came to a conclusion that she will be a part of my family.”
She switched into Aranda’s house shortly after. Since the change, she feels more at ease and enjoys having a (host) sister.
“The transition wasn’t that hard for me,” Azzarello said. “… Of [course] I had problems with my first family and that was a hard period because that was my first reference here, but I knew [beforehand] it could happen [but it’s sorted out now and] I’m happy.”
One of the largest differences from the cultures from Rome to the United States is the school setting, according to Azzarello. In Rome, students don’t switch classes with different classmates. Every year, they stay with the same class of students, but switch teachers in order to explore various subjects. However, the biggest difference is the format of each individual high school. Each school has about one thousand students and is centered around a single subject. There is a science high school, classical music high school, language high school, and more. Azzarello attends the science high school which requires her to take 5 years of physics, 5 years of math, and 5 years of basic science.
Additionally, each school days varies depending on the school. Some schools go Monday to Saturday and even Monday to Monday, but similarly to the U.S., Azzarello got the weekend off at the high school she went to.There is also different time start and end times depending on the school. Some students attend school from 8AM to 2PM, 6AM to 8PM or 8AM to 1PM.
In the U.S., her favorite classes are United States History and forensics because she likes the teachers and finds the information she’s learning interesting.
Additionally, she has found extracurricular activities she loves that are offered at MV, like cross country. Azzarello strength lies in being a sprint runner so she’s looking forward to doing track in the Spring.
“I usually make varsity track…so cross country is [going to be] hard for me,” Azzarello said. “I like going to the races here. There’s more people. One thing I noticed during races, is everyone waits for the others [to finish racing] and we work as a team together.”
Azzarello misses her family and friends back at Rome and other aspect about her home country like the food.
Finding friends has been slightly difficult for her because she found coming in as a junior, everyone seemed to know each other and had their own sets of friends.
“Making friends [has been] the most difficult part because one, I’m used to have lots and very close friends and then I came here not knowing anyone or the language or how people hang out and two, the difficult thing is making “real” friends, because at first everyone is interested in you because of course you are the girl from Rome – I mean who is not interested in you? But after the first one to two weeks people go back to their group of friends,” Azzarello said. “So it’s hard to enter into a very close group of people who have been knowing each other [for] a long time.”
Azzarello’s (host) sister and friend Aranda is glad that she was able to meet Azzarello and become close with her.
“My life has changed [a bit] because I never had a sister before I only have all brothers so I like having another girl around to talk to about things,” Aranda said. “Having [Giulia] come is awesome because it feels like she has been a part of this family since the beginning.”