Learning how to speak in one’s native tongue is one of the first things parents teach kids as they grow up in their homeland. For years, teachers supply students with the knowledge on how to correctly pronounce and apply words to form sentences. From there, the sentence structure becomes more complex with numerous additions along the way, giving students a better way to communicate than when they first started. Now, with foreign exchange students Eleonora Palliccia, Ilaria Simonetti and Jorge Erazo Andrade, all of that gets swept away as they come to the United States with a compulsion to speak the new native tongue.
Coming from Latina, Italy, Eleonora Palliccia came to Shawano with two completely different ways to speak. Before coming to America, Eleonora had a plethora of things on her plate that she had to deal with to gain approval to leave her country.
“We had to fill out many documents, applications and papers. We also had to take many pictures of ourselves, our friends and our family,” Eleonora said with a tinge of annoyance, reminiscing on the countless hours spent filling out documents.
Ilaria, also from Italy but from Riva Del Garda, also shared her experience in becoming eligible to come to the United States.
“When we filled out the papers and took photos, we had to show ourselves to the family that would take us.”
She explained that by ‘showing yourself to the family’ they would effectively become paired up with a family that would be most compatible with them. When the exchange students work with their company, the company sends out information to various families around the country who are willing to take them in for their duration.
According to both Eleonora and Ilaria, the school system and teachers in Italy are complete polar opposites.
As Ilaria stated, “Nothing is similar. You have to pay for sports, there is no band and fun things are limited.”
Eleonora added on, “You can’t choose your classes or school. You can’t really drop out of a class either.”
Both students claimed that options for students in Italy are severely limited and lacking any form of choice.
Another thing that both Italian natives say is different, or at the very least weird, is how students greet one another. In other foreign countries, Italy especially, common introductions or greetings between friends would be a hug or kisses on the cheeks. Americans are more known for their personal space, but still have an immense amount of hospitality toward new people.
Delving even further, one of the key problems when they initially arrived was attempting to adapt to the new environment. Integrating into a new land with completely exotic people is a very difficult thing to meld with, as the majority don’t have the same cultural influence. Although from Ilaria’s perspective, she seemed to have a better time than most other foreign students.
“It wasn’t as tough as I thought,” she said with a grin, but Eleonora didn’t share the same opinion, stating, “It was initially hard.”
Although both shared the fear of not being accepted by the new terrain, they ultimately learned how to blend in saying something to help those in their place.
Ilaria stated, “Try new things, be prepared for travelling.”
Speaking with a high sense of optimism for the approach to another country, Eleonora also added, “Never be afraid of doing things. Don’t be afraid of your accent.”
Both try to show a side every new person to the country should allow themselves to use. Fear is only an illusion, but they seem to already know that.