Sarah F. is currently a senior at SYA Italy and a blogger for our Campus Reporter program. She comes to SYA from Walnut Hill School (MA). Read more of her work throughout the year here.
Warning: this post is a little mushier and more personalized than that of the previous piece describing Italian food. Such is the nature of time.
The host family situation varies widely—this is a universal concept of course. One may have one that can barely stand to have him or her out of the house for the bare minimum of a 7-hour school day, while others—like mine—expect that I will be out socializing until the very last minute of curfew. Regardless of the various time requirements that various families deem appropriate, there's one thing to keep in mind—a concept that is easily forgotten when you get lost in the stresses of daily life: these families have, without any questions, opened their arms wide and unconditionally accepted each student as their own child. Still sound a little generic? Let's put it this way: they are hosting a random teenager with all their quirks, habits, and mood swings, and, that teenager is foreign. I'll leave you to brainstorm the connotations and images that come with the word "teenager." So, without further ado, here is a "thank you" note to my family, for hosting yet another soul who has chosen to spend a year of their youth in Italy:
To My Host Mom
You've probably seen me cry more than anyone else in the family. Thankfully, emotions are universal, and you have offered no shortage of hugs, long laments in Italian which I half understand but fully appreciate, and food mostly containing sugar that I can smell wafting through the apartment, when the previous two don't work. You greet me with a gleeful "Buongiorno" and two kisses on the cheek every morning in the kitchen, as groggy and bed-headed as I am, and come afternoon, are ready to talk about the love and tolerance that this world needs in a deeply liberal and philosophical (and Italian) way. From the moment of first seeing me and cupping my face in your hands as if I was a long-lost cousin reunited, and madly dancing to the tunes of Grease in a full parking lot, it's safe to say that you're a keeper.
To My Host Dad
Your sarcasm is never-ending. This morning, you woke me up—for the second time, at the ripe hour of 2PM, with an Italian song blasting from your computer, snapping your fingers, and a karaoke-style good morning. You clap with the enthusiasm of a Carnegie Hall audience member whenever I finish a painfully un-practiced rendition of "The Entertainer," and are never shy to correct my stilted and half-comprehendible Italian. You remain unembarrassed and enthusiastically return my greetings when I spot you in the main piazza of Viterbo, jumping like an injured starfish and calling your name from across the street.
To My Host Sister
Although you are shy, you welcomed my arrival with a smiling face and many kisses on the cheek, and your sweet personality says a lot that your words do not. You were a bit of a savior in my first few weeks, when you translated my simplified English words and hand gestures into eloquent Italian. The dedication you have to the animation-inspired art says a lot for your character, and although you are only two years younger than me, I am eager to watch you mature into a talented artist.
To My Host Pup
Thank you for all your doggy kisses. You sleep nestled between me and my stuffed animals (yes, I still carry them around at the tender age of 17) every night, and I will dearly miss the silent comfort of your presence at the end of my stay.