What’s up guys! This is Alessandro from Michigan, one of the 9 Bertolucci’s students who decided to spend a year abroad. Maybe someone doesn’t know that Michigan is one of the 50 american states and, to make it easier, is a north-east state with the famous Lake Michigan which is almost as big as Italy. Because of this amazing opportunity I thought it would be nice to share my experience so far.
Everything started out august 26th at the Linate airport, a moment that I had been waiting for, I knew that something big was about to happen and as every crucial moment past I was overwhelmed by a mixture of indescribable feelings such as excitement, fear, and sadness. I couldn’t believe that it was going to happen until we took off and all the fears were taken over by exciting feelings. First step of my “adventure” was a gorgeous trip to New York with exchange students all over the world. Five unforgettable days spent visiting New York with a “melting pot” of cultures sharing the same experience. However, I knew it wasn’t the real experience of being an exchange student and I was aware that it wouldn’t last forever; there they are new concerns and fears about the new family I was going to spend a year with.
Everything was going to become new and different and every time I asked myself the same question: Will I get along with the new family? What if I won’t? Hopefully I wasn’t living that experience alone but with Max, my new brother from Austria. We first met in London to take the air the got us to New York, although we hadn’t seen before we both felt empathy for each other and we suddenly started talking about the life we had spent until then and the new one we were going to have. I remember we had been talking for at least 8 hours without covering all the topics we could have discussed about. Something was changing about my expectations, what initially was my new experience was becoming ours. There is nothing better then sharing such an amazing experience with someone else like you, because happiness is only real when shared.
After 5 amazing days in New York, according to our schedule, we were to take a flight to Chicago and then a second one to Grand Rapids. Everything was running smoothly, too great to be real. After we had greeted all our companions we finally took off with a two hours delay. We must have been to Chicago before 3 p.m for the check-in, instead it was 2:30 and we still were on the flight. Finally we landed at 2:50. We only had 10 minutes left, we didn’t know where to go and the gigantic airport of 29 km square didn’t help. So we suddenly started ask everybody we ran into how to get to our gate.
We ran and ran as fast as we could for at least a mile but it wasn’t enough, we didn’t make it, the airplane had already taken off. Despite the problems, we didn’t lose our hopes and we went to the information center to ask, with our immature and limited english, for information about next flights.
They told us that there was no flight available for the same location and that we had to find another way to get to Grand Rapids. Although we didn’t know what to do, we kept trying to figure out how to get to Grand Rapids. Finally, after we had made some calls and explained that we were exchange students, they struggled to get us on a flight at first, then eventually found one. All the fears and worries went away, we finally had a flight and we couldn’t miss it again. As a consolation and a way to apologize, they gave us each a free meal worth 80 dollars to spend wherever we wanted in the airport. Everything eventually ran without any problems, we got on the flight while our host family was waiting for us. After a two hour flight, we finally landed. We got off the plane and walked through the gate and there they were, my new parents waiting for Max and me at the end of the pathway. As I was getting closer my heart started to beating harder and harder. A moment which was lasting forever. All I had been waiting for was going to be real.
Then I close my eyes and here I am, almost 3 months into my stay here. All this time literally flew by. Now the only fear I have is that this experience is going to be over even though there are more than 6 months left. Neither regrets or disappointments. I wouldn’t change anything if I could go back into the past. I’ve learned lots of new things, made new friends and understood the importance of interacting with diverse cultures. It’s not as easy as it seems to be, there are difficulties and obstacles but it’s totally worth it. When homesickness kicks in I take it as the price to pay to have two families, two groups of friends and two homes 9,000 kilometers apart and believe me, it’s a great deal!