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Senior studies abroad in Italy

Courtesy Giulia Presa Vespa
Embracing Italy: Senior Giulia Presa Vespa sits on a lion statue while touring Italy. Presa Vespa spent the past four months studying in the country, hoping to complete her semester-long academic journey abroad.

By Zara Samdani, Co-T/E Life Editor

Born in Brazil, senior Giulia Presa Vespa was 7 years old when she first moved to the United States. After adapting to the unfamiliar environment, she developed a newfound desire to see the rest of the world.

“After moving to the U.S., I saw a whole different perspective, a whole different lifestyle, a whole different way of life,” Presa Vespa said. “I knew there was more out there, and I just wanted to experience more.”

For this reason, Presa Vespa seized an opportunity to study abroad. After filling out an application for CIEE, a company that offers high school study abroad programs, she decided to spend the first semester of her senior year in Italy. She has already taken Italian for three years at Conestoga and wanted more exposure to the culture.

“My dad always wanted to learn more about Italy because my grandfather is Italian, and he always wanted me to connect with that part of the family,” Presa Vespa said. “Everyone in my family has seen pretty incredible things (in Italy), and I wanted to see what everyone was so excited about.”

As part of the program, Presa Vespa currently lives with a host family. Her daily routine has remained relatively undisrupted, as she continues the same schedule she followed in America.

“In my daily routine, I wake up. I take the bus or walk to school. It is easy to walk because it’s a walkable place. I study, then return home around 2 p.m. And when I have free time, I go to the center of the village and hang out with friends,” Presa Vespa said.

Presa Vespa appreciates the cultural practices in Italy, which prioritizes family.

“It (Italian culture) stresses the importance of family and mealtimes. There’s no phones anywhere near a dinner table, and (mealtime) goes on for several hours,” Presa Vespa said. “You eat and talk, and it’s a very incredible bonding experience, a chance to connect with everyone in the household. I really like that.”

Along with immersing herself in a communal culture, Presa Vespa believes studying abroad has been an opportunity for personal growth, as she can adapt to a new set of classes and gain a different level of independence.

“I am taking different classes, such as international relations, economy and classes I’ve never taken before. And I’m pushing myself by learning these tough subjects in another language,” Presa Vespa said. “It is going pretty well so far.”

Zara Samdani can be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Zara Samdani, Co-T/E Life Editor
Zara Samdani is a junior and the Co-T/E Life Editor of The Spoke. She covers school activities, student features and local events. Outside of the newsroom, she supports Girl Up, an organization that advocates for girls' rights, and plays for Conestoga's squash team.