Notes From Abroad:
Conversations in Italian
around the dinner table. Hanging out the laundry to dry.
Getting tips about weekend travel destinations. Leda Grossman
’12 learns just as much about Italian culture from her
host family as she does through her classes. She recently
wrote about her second family abroad, her hosts in Firenze.
By Leda Grossman
One of the most important aspects
of Italian culture is family life. As a student living abroad
in Florence for a year, my home stay has been a window onto
the life of real Italians. Itís my favorite aspect of the
Junior Year Abroad program.
My host family is amazing; they
are welcoming and caring. The first day I arrived I was so
nervous to ring the doorbell and meet the strangers that
would become my family for a year. Now, a little over half
way through my year here, I can already imagine how much
I will miss my Italian family after I leave.
Leda Grossman ’12
(on right) poses amid dinner conversation with her
host sister in Florence, Italy.
Grossman with her
host family in their Florence home.
Florentines has allowed me to form a closer connection to
Italy and identify more with their culture. I have the opportunity
to observe and partake in daily Italian life.
The first month
living with a host family there are many adjustments. For
me, there was the late dinner time and figuring out the rules
and dynamics of the house.
At dinner I laugh with my host
sister or have interesting conversations with my host dad
about traveling. It is really nice knowing that at the end
of every day I have a delicious meal waiting for me. We all
catch up and talk about our days.
Another adjustment to Italy
was getting used to the lack of clothes dryers. People hang
their clothes out in the air to dry. This method is more
environmentally friendly, however very dependent on the weather.
One sunny morning I hung my
laundry out before walking to school. Around lunchtime my
friends commented that it was pouring outside. I immediately
thought of my laundry and hoped it wouldnít get ruined. Later that afternoon, when
I returned home, I found my clothes dry and waiting for me
in my room! My host sister and brother were home and brought
in everyoneís laundry.
My host family is very accommodating.
Every time I travel for the weekend they offer advice about
my destination or lend me a guidebook. They even lent me
an old coat of my host sisterís for when I travel to windy,
Whenever I have something to
complain about I can go to my host mom and she offers a solution.
In December I got sick and had a fever. Before bed my host
parents had told me to wake them if I didnít feel well or I needed anything.
In the middle of the night I woke up and tried to find the
aspirin in the medicine cabinet without success. I felt bad
disturbing my host mom to ask for the medicine, but thankfully
she didnít mind and found the medicine right away. She even
made me a hot drink and took my temperature before returning
to bed. It was so nice having a mother to comfort me at a
time when I really wanted to be home where everything is
Iím so appreciative of my host family and how generous
they are. Living with a host family is an irreplaceable experience;
you learn more vocabulary than you would ever learn in a
classroom and you see the daily life of your host country.