Y10 student Thomas Woodcock has recently returned from a visit to the family of the Italian student he hosted earlier this year. He writes of his experience:
It was with some trepidation that my mum agreed to host a student for a week. A student who was in fact, a complete stranger. A student we knew nothing about. Could he speak English? What would he like to eat? My Mum’s memories of school exchanges were groups of teenagers in the playground at school in tears because they were homesick! Thankfully, our exchange student, Paolo couldn’t have been a more pleasant house guest.
We had the first weekend together and visited Durham Cathedral. It wasn’t until we left that it occurred to me that as much as the Cathedral is beautiful and a world heritage site, Pisa, where Paolo came from boasts some stunning architecture and some world renowned attractions. We also went to Whitby and Robin Hood’s Bay that first weekend and again, although the sun shone, Italy has beautiful beaches and I now wonder if Paolo was continually comparing ours to his! The remaining part of the week was spent at school, on a variety of day trips including Newcastle and a couple of evenings laser questing with the other exchange students.
Since Paolo’s visit, as a family we have remained in touch and my mum has even managed to learn a little Italian and so was able to arrange a reciprocal visit for me during the summer holidays. I spent a week in Pisa during a heat wave with Paolo and his family. I had a lovely time, seeing some of the beautiful sights of Italy, eating lots of “gelato” and pasta! I would definitely recommend to anyone to take the opportunity of having an exchange student stay. I learnt a lot about another country, culture and how other families live. Travelling alone is an adventure all of its own too!
Thomas and Paolo in Darlington and Italy