High School 2014-15 – Martina Rubino, from Italy

I knew I was leaving since months, although I didn’t actually realised it until August came and all my friends started to remind me every single day: “OMG You’re leaving!”. My mum was always on my back for the luggage, which I then found more difficult than what I had thought, nevertheless we got it sorted in two weeks and left it closed until the day of the flight. All my “goodbyes” were said with a lump in my throat, and I won’t lie, I thought I could not make it, leaving at 4 o’clock in the night probably played its part. As soon as I went through security, I took a deep breath and said, “That’s it, it’s only me now”, so I pulled myself together and started this new adventure. My flights were a bit bumpy, because of a delay I’d lost my connection in Rome and had to take a flight to Amsterdam, to then head to Birmingham. I managed to text my host family to inform them about my delay and I couldn’t have been gladder when I finally saw them standing there my host-mum, host-brother, host-sister and my roommate Anna, who stayed with me for two months.

The journey home was rather awkward, my little host-sister, aged 8, started bombarding me with questions, my host-brother revealed his funny self whose presence I soon came to appreciate and the other student, although silent at the beginning, soon became one of my best friend, people you’d feel empty if you hadn’t met. Arrived at home we had some tea, at 6 o’clock, which for me was so unusual, and it took me a while to get used to the English rhythms, but sincerely by now I’d be quite disappointed if I weren’t waking up to this on the weekends!

School began two days after my arrival, I found that overwhelming, I had no idea which subjects to take (in Sixth Form, you only study 4 subjects) and I changed mine several times, eventually I studied French, English Language and Literature, which has been my favourite subject, Photography and GCSE Maths. Students and teachers have been incredibly understating and willing to help, I never felt left alone. From the very first day, the English students started talking to me and we soon became friends, but the friends I cherish the most are the other exchange students, with whom I spent most of my time travelling around England!

I often met up with another Italian student who lived in Malvern, not far from where I lived, and together we went to London. It was an amazing weekend, and it was rather funny founding ourselves mixing up the languages and forgetting some Italian words! It is an incredible feeling to start thinking and dreaming in English without realising it, and even better when somebody pointed out your major improvement.

Although when someone says England everybody thinks of London, the trip I enjoyed the most was the one to Liverpool. I had been there before and was so eager to show it to my friends (all Beatles’ lovers indeed!), the most satisfying thing has been organising it all by ourselves, accommodation and transports, it made me realise how my independence grew throughout the year. Of course we did the Beatles’ Tour!
I moved from a city with the sea to the countryside, and the cultural shock was a serious blow, but what I soon realised was that there was no point being homesick (which although, is allowed every now and then) and dwelling on what I missed. This was going to be my home for 10 months, and these people were going to be my family. Home is wherever YOU are, that makes it home. I don’t know when I’ll be able to see my host family and my friends again, I’m therefore happy I enjoyed every single minute I spent with them. I can’t sum up 10 months abroad in a few words, but if I were to choose one it would be: WORTHWHILE!


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