Life in the U.S. / Student Spotlight

Student Spotlight – Vincenzo from Italy – 4/25/17

(Vincenzo from Italy studying in Illinois)

We have so many truly amazing and talented young students at Aspect Foundation, but certain students really stand out from the pack. Today, we are putting the spotlight on a standout student who has been making the most of his exchange year, Vincenzo from Italy! Vincenzo is studying in Illinois with the McGrath family and has been filling his year with school sports, trips to St. Louis, and family fun. We asked Vincenzo several questions about his exchange year so far. Find out what he had to say below!

We want to know a little bit about your 1st days in America!
My first day in America was awesome. I was with a group of exchange students from 4 different countries: Italy, France, Belgium, and Australia. We had a mini-stay in New York and had so much fun there . We visited Times Square, Grand Central Station, Central Park, Broadway, Manhattan, Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty, and the World Trade Center. I will never forget my first 4 days in the U.S. I made unforgettable friendships and experienced one of my favorite cities in the world. How cool!

Did your host family meet you at the airport?
Yes, they did. My host dad was waiting for me, along with my  Aspect coordinator. My host mum had previously made plans and she was on vacation: they were not going to host during this year until they checked the website and realized I was the right student to have in their family. They could not miss the chance to host an Italian dreamer!!!

How did you feel when you first saw your host family?
I felt pretty confident, placid, calm, and happy. Before I came, We had already talked and chatted on social media. They delivered the goods, they were exactly how I expected them to be. I saw my host mum several days after I arrived in my American house. That night, she cooked a great pasta. It’s still my favorite!!!

(Vincenzo with his Host Family in Illinois)

How did they welcome you?
My host dad welcomed me with a big sign (made also by my host mum) and a stunning smile. I had no problem at speaking english with him. We had great conversations that day. He also showed me some historical sites in Springfield, Illinois, which is the “Land of Lincoln”. Gosh, I love Abraham Lincoln. He was such an amazing president.

(Vincenzo visiting the ‘Land of Lincoln’) 

What is one memory from the beginning of this year that will always stay with you?
That’s a tricky questions. I had several amazing moments at the beginning of the year. Senior night and homecoming night probably will be the ones I’ll never forget.

(Vincenzo at Homecoming)

You got to visit NASA!? How cool!
Super cool! LIT! It’s such an amazing place and everybody should visit it at least once.  It’s the world’s gateway to space. I realized how smart and brave  certain people are. I learned more about past and future space missions. Some clips and videos I watched in the various theaters were marvelous. I bet the world’s population was really excited when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, and when Apollo 13th’s crew got back home safely.

What did you do while you were there?
I visited every single attraction and spent around 6 hours at the center. Heroes and legends’ area, the bus tour, U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, Space Shuttle Atlantis, Shuttle Launch Experience were the attractions I enjoyed most.

What was your favorite exhibit that you saw at NASA?
I enjoyed all of them. The exhibit showing Apollo 11 and its crew landing 0n the moon was my favorite overall.

(Vincenzo visiting the NASA center in Florida)

We see that you had a chance to visit St. Louis. What did you do there?
The first time I went to  St.Louis, I visited the Arch, downtown and I watched the Cardinals play. The second time I was there, I experienced a concert with my American host mum. That was a wonderful date we had. The third time, I went to watch my favorite team, the Chicago Cubs, play against the Cardinals. The Cubs won and I’ll never forget that night. The 4th and last time I went there was two weeks ago. I ran a half marathon with my friend and had two nice days around St.Louis area.

(Vincenzo visiting St. Louis with his Host Family)

How has your school year been going so far?
My school year has been going great. I have all A+’s and I like all my classes. I have friends in every class and it’s always a pleasure to listen to my teachers and learn new content. School is the most important thing in my small town and everything circles around it. It was amazing to see the whole community at the football games.

Have you joined any teams or clubs?
Yes, I have. I played soccer during the fall my team won the Regional championship. I’m glad that I played soccer, but soccer in America is not a big deal. Nobody except the parents care and for Europeans, that might be a struggle. What I would suggest to future exchange students is to play football. If I could come back to August, I would kick for the football team.  This spring, I have been running track. I like being part of a team and it’s a great way to stay in shape.

How is American High School different from Italian High School?
American High School is very different from the Italian one. The American one is easier and most of the work is done at school. Every day, I have 7 different classes and see different classmates, while in my Italian school I have just one class and I’ve had the same classmates for 4 years. My American school is way bigger than my Italian one and has got more facilities.  In my Italian school we do not have any sport and fun activity. In the American society, especially in small centers, schools are the most important things and represent the whole community.

If you had to choose just one, what is your favorite memory from High School this year?
I’d say soccer season and U.S history class. Ooops! That’s two, but one is a class and the other one is a school extra activity.

(Vincenzo playing soccer and running track for his High School)

Now that you are over halfway through your exchange year, we want to know if you have any advice for students or host families! What advice would you give to another student who is thinking about studying abroad in America?
I would tell him not to waste the chance to come to America. It’s a country which blends customs and traditions of people from all over the world. That’s what makes America a great country.

What advice would you give to an exchange student when dealing with homesickness?
Everybody knows that there comes a time when exchange students feel homesick and miss their family. Well, it’s a great moment, because most of us come from nice families and realities. I have never felt homesick so far, but sometimes I miss home. I’m totally aware that some exchange students have to deal with homesickness. I want them not to give up or quit. When they feel homesick, they should stop staying on their phones and skyping with friends back home. They should find something to do and people to spend time with. Folks, GIVING UP is not an option!  

What advice would  you give to an exchange student when trying new things?
Every day we should try new things. We have to experience as many things as possible. We will never have any minute of this experience back.

Now, we want to give you a chance to share any experiences or thoughts you have with our community.
I wanna say thanks to Aspect Foundation and “WEP”, my Italian association. All the people who worked with me did a good job to help me live this experience. They have made sure I have been okay many times.

If you could sum your exchange year up in one word, what would that be?

Lastly, is there anything else you would like to share?
I would like to thank you host parents! I love them and I’m grateful to have met them. I’ll remember them forever. They made me feel home. Thanks to them bunches.


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