A Semester in the US: A Life-Changing Experience

Today’s post comes from ACCENT Florence’s student Intern, Jacopo Ragusa. Jacopo spent six months in the United States, living with a Floridian host family and attending American high school. Jacopo discusses what it was like to become immersed in a new culture and how the experience changed his life.

My exchange student experience in the US was amazing. When I was 17, I decided to take the opportunity to go abroad for a semester of high school and live with a new family, learn another language, and live in another culture. 

On January 4, 2014, my journey started in a new home in Cape Coral, Florida, near the Gulf of Mexico. My host family was composed of a father, a mother, and a daughter who went to high school as well.

After a couple of days, my new life as a Junior at Oasis High School started. Early on, I experienced some difficulties due to the differences between American and Italian educational systems. I tried my best to take classes that were similar to the ones I used to take in Italy in order to stay on track with my studies.

I learned that being on an exchange program doesn’t just involve studying and learning a new language, its also a great opportunity to visit a lot of places and meet a lot of people. I went to Orlando, for example, where I visited Disney World and Universal Studios, Tampa, and many beaches along the coast. The weather in Florida was amazing, a totally new lifestyle that I loved, though the sudden heavy rainstorms were a surprise!

After a couple of months I felt quite American, I was completely immersed in the American cultural lifestyle. At first, I loved it. My school, the new places, new rules, my role in the host family, and my new habits all became really cool things to describe to my friends back home in Italy. But after a while, being far from home, family, friends, and Italian everyday life made me also appreciate what I had at home in Florence.

How did I feel after 6 months in the US? Upon returning from such an experience, I felt like I never had before. In a single word: powerful.  It was a wonderful experience that radically changed my life, from every point of view. I learned so many things all at once that allowed me to grow up a lot. It was the dream of a lifetime to spend time in the US, and having done so I feel I the experience met my expectations and more. The way I think, view things, eat, spend my time, have fun, and handle everyday situations on my own evolved beyond words during my time abroad.~Jacopo Ragusa, ACCENT Florence

Did this post inspire you to embark upon the life-changing experience of study abroad for yourself? Research your study abroad options at http://accentintl.com/find-a-program/.