Fulbright is… #ETAtoITA 2017
Abbiamo intervistato Samuel Shreve in merito alla sua esperienza di Fulbright ETA (English Teaching Assistant) a Vibo Valentia. Here’s what he told us!
What brought you to your school in Italy? How long have you been here?
I have been in Italy since October of last year and am dreading the arrival of August when I have to leave. During my last year in college in 2017, I found out I had been selected to come to Italy for this incredibly competitive and rewarding experience. I was one of 7 total students selected from America to go to Italy. I chose to come to Italy because I fell in love with the country when I studied abroad in Bologna. During my time in college, I studied Italian language and also the intricacies of the countries through topics such as politics and immigration and history. I realized that, while I am enticed by everything Italy has to offer, I also want to provide some of my perspectives and expertise on subjects I have gained through my university experience. That is what drove me to apply for this Fulbright program, and I am extremely fortunate to have been selected.
-Had you ever been in the South of Italy before?
Before coming to Calabria, the farthest south I had been was Naples. I was only in Naples for a few days though, so when I came to Calabria I immediately realized it was a completely different world than the north. People always told me that there was something special about the south of Italy, but I never found the time to visit. Now, I am so lucky to be here and I don’t understand why anyone would want to leave.
-Come ti stai trovando?
Vibo, and Calabria, is a place that I will never get used to as an American, but a place that will always hold a special place in my heart. It has unpredictable weather, beautiful scenery, incredible food, and some of the kindest people that I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. While living here, I feel like I am always a part of someone’s family, even though my family is thousands of miles away. I have learned that if students don’t listen, the teachers just yell louder and louder; ‘Perfect’ by Ed Sheeran is loved by almost every Italian I have ever met; the passaggiata is part of a daily routine; when a Calabrian mom says ‘mangia!” it is not a suggestion, but a command; even though Torino and Vibo are so far, there are a crazy amount of Juve fans here; and ‘nduja is a essential part of every Calabrese diet.
-What’s one thing that may have surprised you about the habits and customs of the Italians you’ve come in contact with?
The one thing that I am surprised by, but should have expected, is that Italians don’t understand the concept of a line (queue). No matter where they are, they just push and shove their way forward. It is hilarious to me to watch, because even during communion at church, people force their way forward to get to the priest! I was also shocked at how much people actually use hand gestures in their conversations. It was so different from Bologna. I know someone here who had to drive with their knees because they needed their hands to make gestures! Something I love about the culture here is all the walking people do. In America we are all fat because we use the car for absolutely everything. If we go to the store, take out the trash, go to school, we always are in the car. I came here having studied Italian for a few years, but I was immediately confused because many people I talked with were speaking dialect, which is so different from Italian to me. The last thing that I find funny is how long it takes for Italians to say goodbye when talking on the phone. “Ciao, ciao, ciao, ok ci sentiamo dopo, ciao ciao, un abbraccio, ciao, ciao Maria ciao.” In America many people don’t even say goodbye, they just hang up!