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Bridie in ItalyHi WEP! It's three weeks today that I've been in this beautiful country, experiencing something new everyday. I think the main thing that's shocked me is how much my Italian has improved in such a short period of time but also how obvious it has become that I have so much further to go! These past few weeks have been intense, from walking through the beautiful streets of Rome to being thrown into life here in Malnate, north of Milano. My host family have been wonderful, giving me nothing but care and assistance whenever they can. I can already feel myself building a life here! Full of family, friends, activities, education and travel, the things I had back home but in such a different more exciting way! It has definitely been difficult at times, accepting the sudden reality of my new life, but it's been really thrilling too! I'm off to Milan this weekend with other exchange students, and I'm hoping to go on short trips to many other beautiful cities which I'm so lucky to have so close by. School is really interesting because it's so different from back home and the people are all really friendly and helpful, I was firstly so surprised by the amount of people! I'm at a science school so a lot of the time it's difficult to understand, but the teachers have been really helpful in arranging a special timetable for me. I feel really cared for and I'm excited to see what the future holds for me here and how my perspective on the world is going to change because of it. It’s like exchange is the difference between living in a fishbowl and swimming in the ocean, I have the comfort of life back home and experience of the wider world. I honestly just feel extremely grateful for all of this. Click here for more information and to apply for your own Italian adventure.
Is a short term student exchange right for me? a. you are in year nine, 10 or 11 b. you can’t miss much Australian schooling! On a short term WEP exchange you'll depart in November or December and return in January for the new school year! Short term programs are awesome because:
- they're less than 90 days, so they provide a fantastic taste of student exchange
- you'll get to experience Christmas overseas
- your Christmas might involve snow
- you'll make memories and skills for life!
- Italy (because there's no language requirement, the food is incredible and Italian Christmas traditions extend until early January!)
- France (because you can choose between a traditional exchange or an area option)
- Norway (because this European gem has got to be one of the most beautiful countries on earth!)
Ciao! It's primavera or Spring in Italia! And, it's moments like riding bikes with my host sisters through the many fruit trees my host dad grows on his farm that has me continuously amazed by how beautiful Italy is! My name is Erin and I’ve now been here in the north of Italy for two months. I’ve loved my time here so far and it’s all thanks to my host family! I have four host sisters who are just amazing and have helped me settle in very nicely. They’ve been very helpful while I learn the language by giving me tests after dinner, writing some little lessons for me to do at school and talking very slowly so it’s easier for me to understand. I feel very lucky to have made such a special bond with my siblings already! My host mum is an amazing cook and my favourite part of the day is coming home from school at 12:45 in the afternoon and eating the best home cooked lunch! My host dad is a farmer and grows apples, peaches and kiwis so here we are always eating fruit which I love. School was hard at the beginning and it takes awhile to adapt to the differences but once you start to understand the language it’s a lot easier. The best thing for me has been watching movies in Italian during the classes I don’t understand - with permission of course! For Easter we went to my host family's beach house in Bordighera which is such a beautiful town and the sea is a very pretty blue. On the Sunday we travelled from Italy into France, then Monaco, to walk around the city of Monte Carlo. It’s very bizarre for me being able to drive into three different counties in one day and not need my passport! My Easter holidays were fantastic and I’m so excited for future adventures I will get up to with my family before leaving in December!
Have you chosen your exchange bestie yet? WEP exchange students from Belgium, Denmark, France and Italy are arriving in Australia this July and we're looking for families, just like yours, to host them! Choose your student ASAP! Here are Sara and Georgia to tell you why it's the best thing you'll ever do! In 2015, Mt Beauty high school student, Georgia, set off to Italy on the student exchange journey of a lifetime! Within days of arriving, she was raving about her new home! "I'm having the most amazing experience! Rome was spectacular and I’m living in Malnate, the cutest little town, with beautiful views and houses! And, just to top it off, they have the best gelato shop only a walk away!" During her exchange Georgia made connections and memories for life and when she returned to Mt Beauty, there was only thing she wanted to do...HOST! She jumped onto this website and chose her student, Sara! Sara is from Italy and super into baking sweets (talk about the perfect host sister)! Sara wanted to go on exchange to challenge herself, to open her mind and to discover everything the world has to offer! "I started talking to Georgia before leaving Italy because I was so extremely excited to have a host sister, I always wanted to have an actual one! The fun thing is that me and Georgia actually knew each other before they decided to host me because we were already following each other on Instagram! When she told me she would be my host sister, I couldn’t believe it!" Said Sara. When Sara and Georgia met for real, their adventures together began!
"My host family have made my exchange and they have surely been one of the most important parts of it! We started getting on well from the very first moment and now I see them as my second family!"
For Georgia having a sister was amazing! In fact, she reckons Sara was the best part of the family!
"We would run down the hall to each other's rooms each night telling gossip we'd just heard, or talking about Pretty Little Liars because she got me hooked on the show! We were always in each other's rooms, stealing each other's clothes, using each other's perfumes and just hanging out. I saw her as like my twin, having a sister was the best experience I could ask for, I wish she lived here permanently!"
Although Sara has gone back to Italy and these exchange besties are now separated by oceans they have grand plans to visit each other again!
"We hope to travel to all sorts of different countries, in fact when we were together we made plans to go to Greece together and many other places on top of that! We still talk every single day, sending each other our homework/study, or pictures of what we're doing, or even the food we're eating because we always talk about food. But yes, we will 100% see each other again soon!"
Happy travels girls!
Three years later! It is absolutely mind-blowing to me that three years could have passed since my exchange. And yet, stepping off the plane in Milan and going home to my Italian dog, mum, dad, sister, brother, neighbours, grandparents and my very own bedroom, it always feels like I've never left. When WEP used whatever wonderful and whacky equation they use to place some girl from Australia with some family from Italy, I won the lottery, that’s for sure. In Italy I found my true second family. The fact that I can speak fluent Italian to the cute old Italian couple at my work here in Australia, and the fact that I have a second mum, a second dad, and extra siblings (one of which is my only sister and my actual favourite human on the planet), are all things so much a part of who I am now, it seems impossible that it all started just three years ago. The year after I left Italy my Italian family came over to Australia for a month and stayed with us and met some spiders and drank some really terrible coffee and had a ball. Then, the following year, I went back for a month over Christmas, just ‘cause we missed each other and needed to hang out a while. Now, eight months later, I just got back home after a whirlwind 10 day visit to Italy for my host brother’s wedding in Venice - which, despite the fact that I am a very, very poor university student, I just wouldn’t have missed for the world. I write this post more jet-lagged than ever (cheap flights are never kind on the stop overs), craving gelato, but with the fullest, most grateful heart because even though goodbyes are sad and plane tickets are expensive, I wouldn’t trade any of it in for the world. After every badly connected FaceTime call and care package received in the mail and two-hour-long hug in an airport arrivals gate I thank seventeen-year-old me for taking the leap and applying last-minute for a year abroad! So if you’re still deciding whether exchange will be worth it, what are you waiting for? -Maddie, Returnee, Italy What are you waiting for? Find out more about programs to Italy! You can also request to speak to a returned WEP student or check out our Italy WEPisode!