Italian Finds Sweet Home in Alabama
Exchange student from Italy in high school hallway with Alabama friends

Anna (center) with a few new friends

Hi, I’m an Italian exchange student currently in Alabama. On August 21 at 8:45 p.m., I landed at the Atlanta airport, where my host family was waiting for me. After 27 hours without sleep, I finally arrived home where I was welcomed to beautiful Alabama.

It’s been six weeks since I arrived, and I can’t believe the time has passed so fast. Sometimes, I feel like it’s only been a week, and sometimes I feel like I’ve always been here. During this month and a half, I’ve met fantastic people.

People here are very welcoming and sweet; they make me smile every single day and feel at home. School has been amazing so far. Every day, I learn new things and discover new passions, such as cross-country running.

In Italy, I never enjoyed running, but when I came here I was determined to try new things. Now I can finally say that I’m a runner. I enjoy running every day and reaching my goals.

Sometimes, I feel like it’s only been a week, and sometimes I feel like I’ve always been here.

On August 25, I started school. From the first day, I noticed many differences. I really like that teachers don’t put pressure on their students and that they are very involved in sports. The first day of school was very nice. Since I’m the only foreign exchange student, everyone asked me tons of questions about Italy. Everyone was nice to me, and I made a lot of friends.

I am very grateful for my host family. They are a large family; there are my host parents and my eight host siblings, but only three of them live at home. From the moment I arrived, they included me in their beautiful family and made me feel as comfortable as they could.

They showed me around and brought me to different American restaurants to try. I must say that my favorite fast food restaurant is Chick-Fil-A. I’ve also been to Georgia to meet my other host sisters, and this weekend one of them will get married, so we’re going there again.

The world here is different, and I like that. I still have nine months in front of me, and I can’t wait to discover new things about this fantastic culture and enjoy every single moment.

—Anna (Italy), hosted by the Alred Family (AL)