Even in cold weather, Italian student gets warm welcome here
Giulia Venturini, 17, of Italy, who is attending Springfield High School, has learned that through student exchange she can do so much more than she ever thought was possible.
“It’s a great experience,” Giulia said during an interview last week. “I really like learning different languages, traveling, sightseeing, and experiencing other cultures.”
Learning and speaking a language at school in Italy, is very different to integrating with it in a foreign country. She studied English for six years in school, but after living here for six months and having the practical experience of speaking the language, she finds that she is becoming quite proficient in putting together English words to develop good sentences. “When I write I’m surprised that I can write English. Wow!” she said.
A participant in the Nacel Open Door program, a nonprofit student exchange organization dedicated to international understanding and language education, Giulia, is living with the Barry and Karen Reindl family.
“Hosting an exchange student is something we have always wanted to do,” said Karen Reindl. “Giulia fits in great! It’s fun for all of us to learn about different traditions, food and hobbies she and her family enjoy.”
As a junior at Springfield High School, Giulia is enrolled in FST Concepts (mathematics), Chemistry, Advanced English 11, Economics, American Government, Spanish 4, and Art. She has participated in volleyball, and is a member of the Knowledge Bowl team. School is going “good,” she said, and she is on the first semester A Honor Roll.
Life in small town Springfield is quite different from life in Giulia’s native city, Parma.
Parma is a city in the northern Italian region of Emilia-Romagna famous for its Parmesan cheese, Parma prosciutto (ham), architecture, music and surrounding countryside. It is home to the University of Parma, one of the oldest universities in the world. Parma’s population is 189,000.
Giulia’s father, Andrea, who has a degree in industrial chemistry, works for a pharmaceutical company. Her mother, Roberta, is a professor and researcher for the University of Parma. She has two brothers, Mattia, 14, and Luca, 8, and a sister, Marta, 7.
Giulia misses amenities of a metropolitan city to which she is accustomed. “Compared to my city, Springfield is very small and in my city we have everything that we need within its borders,” she said. She misses her family, but said, “I am quite surprised by that. I thought that would be much harder at times.”
“The thing that surprised me most about Springfield is how friendly the people are,” Giulia said. “They greet you on street and everywhere you go.”
Coming from a Mediterranean climate, it is difficult for Giulia to adjust to the Minnesota long, cold, snowy and icy winter with biting winds direct from the North Pole. Throughout October and November as the temperature dropped, Giulia realized winter was approaching. It was getting cold. I knew it would get colder . . . but, whew!” she exclaimed. She asked her mother to send more warm clothes.
Parma, Emilia-Romagna has a humid subtropical climate that is mild with no dry season. Summers are hot and muggy with thunderstorms. Autumn brings much rain. Winters are mild with precipitation.
Giulia and her siblings enjoy spending a month during summer seaside with their maternal grandparents and parents join them for the weekend. She enjoys swimming, diving, seafood, and spending time with friends.
In November, she enjoyed a two-week trip with other NACEL international students to Washington, D.C., New York, and Niagara Falls. She enjoyed the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays with the Reindl family. Her birthday was celebrated on December 26.
Giulia enjoys reading and watching television. Her favorite programs are Flash, an American superhero series, and crime/mysteries. She looks forward to experiences in Springfield school and community durng the next four months.