Brenna Hildebrand

Senior Sarah Downs experienced a different culture and a change of pace when she was a foreign exchange student in Italy for 10 months during her junior year of high school. She left August 25, 2015 and returned June 30, 2016. She lived in the city of Cagliari with the Codipietros, her host family.

“The lifestyle in the USA is very fast pace, and crazy. But, the lifestyle in Italy is very laid back and slow, like stop and smell the roses. Sometimes, instead of going to work, my host dad would say, ‘Let’s go to the beach!’ So then we would go to the beach for dinner or ice cream!”

According to Downs, this was not the only way the Italian lifestyle was different from what she was used to.

“The Italian lifestyle is a lot about hygiene and looking your best. Whenever I would go out with my host mom, she always had her nails, makeup, and hair done. She was absolutely beautiful. The lifestyle in Italy is really traditional in the sense of food and beliefs,” said Downs.

Downs’ host family consisted of a mom, dad, younger brother, and older sister. She also had another sister her age who was in the United States during the same time.  If Italy hosts a foreign exchange student, the country which the student is from is required to host someone in their country as well.

“I loved being in a ginormous family, because of all the food and meals. The food, like all Italian food, was AMAZING. The meals could go on for 3-4 hours. The meal length was something to get accustomed to, but eventually I adjusted to it,” said Downs.

Downs did not just limit herself to one city. She went up to northern Italy for Christmas and traveled everywhere in Italy except for the southern part. Also, she traveled to Germany, France, Czech Republic, and twice to Austria. While in Italy, she went to the beach, hung out with friends and went dancing.

However, her trip was not all fun and no work. Despite knowing Italian beforehand, she had to take Italian. She also took history, English, architecture, drawing and sculpting, math, and physics. In Italy, students stay in the same classroom and the teachers move from class to class. Just being in Italy was a learning experience for Downs that opened up her mind.

“I think seeing a different part of the world has made me more open and accepting of other people, cultures, and religions.”


*Aleona Pronina, [email protected]