Anna P. is currently a junior at SYA Italy and a blogger for the Campus Reporter program. She comes to SYA from Exeter High School in New Hampshire.

One thing that SYA is great at, is providing infinite opportunities for after-school activities. The extracurricular coordinator is so helpful when it comes to finding accommodations for each students’ field of interest. For example, I’ve found a great tennis club where I can continue to improve my skills so that I can return to my homeschool ready for the next season of matches. The program also offers activities that allow you to experience even more of the culture and make new connections with the locals, such as cooking classes, language tutoring, and one that I participate in called Gemellaggio!

Gemellaggio is a really fun group that consists of half Italian students and half American students, coming together after a school day to talk about random topics. However, there’s a twist in which the Italians must speak in English, and we must speak in Italian! Not only does this help our language skills, it’s also very entertaining when both sides make mistakes but we can jump in to help one another out. It’s easy to say that the Italians are usually much better at English than we are at Italian, but the atmosphere is a judgement free zone and the room is always filled with good laughter. 

The topics we discuss are ones that apply to both Europe and America. For example, last week we talked about our opinions on actors and athletes getting paid too much. I won’t lie in saying that we don’t get sidetracked a LOT during our discussions but at the same time, there are really good opinions that are shared. Even with a slight language barrier, no one is ever afraid to speak up and add to the discussion which makes Gemellaggio ten times better!

After our discussions are over, a big group of us usually go to grab a coffee or gelato together. This time is less structured than the activity itself so we can all just relax and have fun. Last week we went to a popular cafe and some students did a puzzle while others were just having fun making TikToks together. This extracurricular activity allows us to practice the language, and also gives us the chance to make new friends with the local students our age!

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A New Normal

Annika compares her new normal to her life in Rennes in her last blog.


Luke recalls a recent memory that encapsulates the lessons he learned from SYA.