"Small" Changes in Indiana
Italian exchange student poses with American friends at high school football game

Italian talks change, homesickness, and keeping busy

I am Sofia. I am 17 years old, and I come from Italy. I'm here to tell you a "small" part of my experience. I put "small" in quotes because even though I have only recently arrived I have already learned a lot of things. When I got on that flight, which lasted 10 hours, I thought and wondered, “Will it be the right choice? Or am I wrong? I'm going to the other side of the world not knowing anyone, and if I feel bad what do I do?”

I think it is normal to worry before leaving, but then everything is completely different, I can assure you! After the very long flight, I had to wait four hours to catch another plane. I was so tired that I couldn't even think.

When I landed, my host family was there waiting for me with two fantastic posters and with warm affection. My host family is made up of a 27-year-old mother and 27-year-old father and three beautiful kids aged four, two, and one. I also have a double placement exchange sister from Spain.

In the beginning, it is normal to miss your family and friends, because you still have to adapt, but the advice I can give you is to always keep yourself busy. I haven’t felt homesick much, because with this host family I feel at home, and this is the most important part of living your experience to the fullest!

I've changed a bit since I've been here, too. I feel braver and stronger.

A few days after I arrived, I had a meeting with the other Indiana PAX students, and it was wonderful to meet people who are having the exact same experience as me. PAX showed us the rules, and then we played a game, and finally ate some delicious desserts that I loved.

I have recently started a new chapter of my life, probably the most beautiful. I am living in a place where I don't know anyone and have changed my routine. Fortunately, I was able to adapt immediately, starting school two days after I arrived.

Taking the yellow bus, meeting new people, making new friends, having new teachers, experiencing a new school method…I must say that at the beginning it was not easy. I didn't know anyone except exchange students. But then, it got better. People are so nice that they immediately make you feel at ease.

Since I've been here, I appreciate every single gesture, smile, invitation to go out, or even when someone asks a simple, "How are you?" I like when they ask me something about my country of origin. 

I've changed a bit since I've been here, too. I feel braver and stronger. I am getting to know a new culture, I am trying new foods, new habits, and new sports. I am learning a new language, a new lifestyle, new schedules, and many other beautiful things.

I advise you with all my heart to have this beautiful experience. In addition to opening your mind, it will help you to face your fears and insecurities. It will help you to mature, to grow, and to discover a new world and yourself.

Thanks for listening to me and I hope I was helpful!

—Sofia (Italy), hosted by the Padgett family (IN)