The student voice of Sycamore High School in Cincinnati, Ohio

Q and A with Francesco C. Cimini

October 13, 2015

Q: Where are you from?
A: Milan, Italy.

Q: Why did you join the Foreign Exchange Student Program?
A: Well, I love your country. In Italy, if you know English, you can do anything.

Q: What was the process of joining the program?
A: The Department of State has two different programs. The first one, you write, what you say about yourself, and then a family will choose you. The other program is very expensive. We are talking about 60,000 euros, which is a lot. Where you can choose your school, and even your family. The program is very expensive, and then the family receives some money. I did the first program, so my host family doesn’t receive anything. So, I’m like a new son of 17 years old. I eat a lot of stuff, which is expensive, for them.

Q: How is your host family?
A: Oh, I love my host family. They are very hospitable. Since the first day, I am part of them, a new son. Nina, she is four years old, and one hour after my arrival, she started considering me a brother. I love them, really. Jack Rose, he showed me the school one week after my arrival. So, that for my first day of school, I already knew where all my classes were.

Q: How has Sycamore been? How is it going? Do you like it?
A: Very well, I’m involved, [with] choir, Madrigal, I have a lot of work to do. So that every night, I go to bed at 11 o’clock and I don’t stop for any reason. Everyone is very nice, and they try to get to know me, and I don’t remember the names. It seems to me that all your names are more or less the same.

Q: What are some of the differences between Italy and Ohio?
A: I’ve only been in Ohio for three weeks, but I can tell you that the United States is part of a nation or a school, and this is very different because in Italy… Well, I love my country…You guys are more patriotic. Oh, and this impressed me a lot. When you go to the supermarket in Italy, you have to put a coin into the cart so you won’t just leave it. In the United States, no one would leave his cart in the [supermarket] because it’s the right thing to do. It’s completely different. We are a crazy country, I know. Wonderful but…

Q: What is something that Americans do that you think is strange?
A: We [Italians] spend a lot of time eating. [Meals] last for one or more hours. We use lunch and dinner for a moment of meeting as a family. For example, with my host family, when you’re hungry, you eat. There is no necessity for putting everything on the table. It’s not very common here.

Q: What is your favorite thing about the U.S?
A: My favorite thing is that you are happy. Italy is a beautiful country. I live close to the Milan Cathedral, so that when I go out from home, it’s just wow. Awesome. But, we are quite sad, as Italians. It’s just strange… Last [couple of]years, there are a lot of problems in our country from the political point of view, a lot of economic problems. So when the crisis started, our country was richer than now. Obviously, these last [couple of] years, the style of life has decreased. As a consequence, we are quite sad, more or less sad– disillusioned. You are happy to live, it is difficult to explain why we are unhappy, and our problem.

Q: One word to describe the experience so far?
A: Unforgettable.

 

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