Buongiorno a te

Camila F. is currently a senior at SYA Italy and a blogger for the Campus Reporter program. She comes to SYA from Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.

Ok so I’ve covered nearly all of it.

The travel, the host family, the friends, the fieldwork days, the culture, the people... but what about the language itself?

I'm sure at this point you might be asking yourself just how advanced my Italian is. After all, I have lived here for 7 months.

Well, the verdict is in and I can confidently say that if “advanced” is the word that comes to mind... you’d be wrong. I mean, in the grand scheme of things, to become fully fluent in a language after only having spoken it for 7 months is... nearly impossible.

However, to become intermediate in the language on the path to becoming fluent– is a certainty. In fact, when I think of my progression from the beginning of the year to now, I’m proud and impressed with how much progress I've made.

But like anything else, it changes every week.

One day I’m watching an entire movie in Italian with Italian subtitles and understanding it completely, eavesdropping on other people’s conversations before realizing that I’m doing it, and having conversations with strangers who are surprised to hear I’m not Italian. Then, the very next day I'm misunderstanding a question my family has been asking since September and forgetting how to say “16 euros” to the man who recharges my cell each month.

A roller coaster, to say the least.

So I suppose to any future SYA students out there, let me be the first in the long line of teachers, families, and friends that will absolutely tell you the same thing 20 billion times over, so much that you’ll get sick of hearing it, but should really follow anyway because your entire experience abroad depends on it:

Speak Italian as much as possible. With your host family, with friends in extracurriculars, with friends at school, with the owners of the bars around town.

Do anything, do it all! This may seem obvious, but somehow you’ll find that it’s a challenge. Remember that you’re here for such a short amount of time, so in order to truly get everything out of it, throw yourself in it completely and be open to everything.

Listen to Italian music, try reading that Italian book, change your phone settings to Italian. When you travel, insist on speaking in Italian. Not only will the locals be impressed, but you’ll see the appreciation in their faces at the fact that you’re trying.

Keep in mind that it doesn’t matter if it’s bad. Like at all. So don’t be so hard on yourself.

For a while, in the beginning, I was self conscious, and that became a block prohibiting me from learning. And then I wondered why I wasn’t seeing progress... that's when I remembered the whole point of this is to sound silly. To say the wrong things. To have an accent. How can you work your way up if you don’t start at the bottom? So yes, be gentle on yourself, but don’t be afraid to challenge yourself either. Don’t doubt yourself so much that you miss out on opportunities.

You’ll see that the more you put yourself out there, the more you’ll gain, and suddenly your study abroad trip becomes an entirely new life that you’ve built along with a whole new version of yourself that knows you’ll never be the same.

Quindi, anche se non ho ancora sognato o pensato completamente in italiano, posso dire con sicurezza che lo sento arrivare...fino ad allora lavoreroĢ€ per ricordare come dire 16.

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