EDITOR’S NOTE: This story is the sixth in a multi-part series about Stephenville High School’s foreign exchange students. These students travel from all over the world and study as juniors at the high school.
STEPHENVILLE (February 28, 2016) – Sara Messina, from Italy, came to the United States to study abroad this semester. Messina said she wanted to see a different culture and meet new people. She will be spending the spring with Renee and Bruce White.
“I wanted to have an experience that will make me grow more confident and independent,” Messina said. “I was looking forward to this experience to push me out of my shell.”
Messina enjoys hanging out with the new friends she’s made this semester, as well as participating in dance and attending youth group. Back home, Messina played softball but was unable to continue due to back problems.
“I met a lot of really nice people,” Messina said. “They’ve been helping me a lot.”
The greatest challenge Messina faces is being a shy person, which makes it more difficult to interact with those around her. And even though Messina has studied English since beginning school, it is still her second language, so she had some difficulty at the beginning of the semester.
“It was really hard to understand people at the beginning with the accent and all,” Messina said.
When Messina found out that she had been assigned to Texas, she was thrilled.
“Texas is not like all of the other places – it’s just cool,” Messina said. “I thought, ‘Woah, riding horses and cowboys.’ I’m happy here.”
Although Messina said that the food here is unhealthy, she thinks it’s good. She especially enjoys Starbucks.
“There are just many little things [that are different] you notice, like people here are just more chill,” Messina said.
But the greatest difference for Messina is the school system. In Italy, after their first eight years of school, students choose a focus, like language, and attend a high school that focuses on the subject, which may be in a different city. Messina attends an economics school.
“You choose what you want to study and you choose what school you want to go to,” Messina said. “We don’t have this many activities. We don’t have different activities at all. We just always sit in class with books. I really like it here. If you want to do something fun, you can do it, like theater or sports.”
When Messina returns to Italy, she will complete her fifth, and last, year of high school. She will not have to retake this semester because she will take exams to opt out of the classes she missed.
“[Texas] is just so different from what Italy is,” Messina said. “It’s so cool.”