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   Date: 3/22/11 Bookmark and Share

Notes From Abroad

Read other Notes From Abroad:

Emily Forster ’12

Christianne Beasley ’12

Laura Itzkowitz ’09

Emily Brown ’11

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.

My Florentine Family

By Leda Grossman ’12

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.

Living with 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, cold places.

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 familiar.

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.


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