FREDDO PERÒ SENTO CALDO (It’s cold, but I feel warm)

Archandra Viryasatya Sugama (INA AFS to Italy YP 16–17)

“Ciao a tutti! Tanti auguri, Buon anno! È un po’ tardi per dirvi questo peró va bene.. Come sapete che sto faccendo il mio anno di scambio di studenti in Italia, precisamente a Messina. È una citta bella che si trova a una isola in sud, Sicilia. Essendo uno studente di scambio è sempre stato il mio sogno. Finoggi, è gìa a meta anno siamo I studenti di scambio dal’Indonesia in Italia.”

“Hi guys! Happy new year, have a nice year! It’s a little too late to say it, but it’s okay.. As you guys know, now I’m doing my student exchange year in Italy, presicely in Messina. It’s a beautiful city which is located in an island in south, Sicily. Being an exchange student is always been my dream. Until now, it’s been half year for us, exchange students from Indonesia in Italy.”

I’VE JUST SEEN A MIRACLE RIGHT AFTER THE YEAR CHANGES!! Wait, before I tell you about this miracle I want to thank AFS first for giving me a chance to feel this experience. Because AFS I could experience a lot of things I’ve never had before. In Italy, Christmas really means happiness. Here I could even feel the vibes of christmas although it was about a month before. Everyone talked about it and the decorations were getting placed. My friends started to dance and sing christmas songs everytime in the class and yeah they really make the atmosphere rose. As a Muslim, I don’t celebrate christmas. But this year, I got a chance to see how people in Italy celebrate it. In christmas, they usually eat together with their family and their relatives. We went from one house to another house and then they come to our house. It’s something like that. It was such a glory for me because I ate a lot of delicious foods. In this year too, It was my first time meeting the legendary old man. SANTA CLAUS! Yes, I went to the house of Santa Claus with some AFS guys and we met the old man whom kids always believe that he brings gifts for them. It was such a wonderful experience!

Anyway, the miracle that I’ve said. For your information, In South Italy we have Mediterranean Climate that means we only have hot summer and mild winter. So, it is a certainty that snow will not come to the cities here. But, in the first week of January a miracle happened! The temperature got lower and lower, whereas the fact says that the lowest temperature in Messina is 9°C during the winter. But, this year is different. It reached 1°C and guess what? It was snowing! Though the snow didn’t last longer after it reached the ground, but it kept snowing frequently during the week. I was so excited! I even played snow war with my brother and his friend. As you know that I’m a tropical boy who have never seen snow directly before. But, this year here in Italy I finally saw and even I was under the snow rain. I considered this moment as a miracle that began my 2017! Thanks, God.

Well, I’ve never thought that I will experience this exchange student before, especially in this country. Long time before my departure to Italy, I’ve heard a lot of things from some of my relatives and also some articles which tend to be “Italian Stereotypes”. Actually, I didn’t really trust the things which I haven’t seen by my own eyes but I took all of those advices as a preparation to face the culture shock. After my arrival, I started to observe if those things are really true or not and as the time passed by I finally found out which ones are true and wrong. Do you guys believe in “Culture Shock?” It’s a moment when we shock or when we’re confused with cultures which we never see before and they’re really different with our cultures. I warn you before that it really exist. I’m also experiencing this here, although it’s not really a big deal for me. What gives me the biggest culture shock is the way how people talk here. Sometimes, they talk loudly and really fast to each others. It makes me afraid because sometimes they also look like they’re angry because they seem like they’re screaming. But, as I try to learn more. Not every people here talk loudly and fastly, despite the fact that most people who I know talk loudly. But, they only speak loudly in certain situation. Talking about the impression that declares that they’re angry a lot is totally wrong. Just because they talk with high intonation it doesn’t mean they’re angry. As I said, it’s all about culture. When we think they’re angry but actually they’re not and they don’t even mean to be angry. The thing that we can do is ask them are they angry or not or instead of making presumption which says that they’re angry when they talk to us, we can observe the reason why they talk the way like that. It’s really fun to learn new cultures because you can see something from different perspective. Another stereotype that interests me a lot is the way Italian use a lot of hand gestures while they’re talking. In this case, I will say yes it’s true. Well, some people don’t use it a lot but they still use it. In my class I see my friends form their hands when they try to express something. The gestures are also different depend on what do you want to express, is it “What do you want?” “Whatever.” “Nothing.” “Let’s go!” and many more. It’s really funny to see them use it when talk.

I just noticed that I just typed the world “class”. Actually, the one of the most important thing of being an exchange student is school. Yeah, through 5 months of my journey I feel like I’ve been living the school day as same as the permanent student in my school. It’s kinda interesting to experience how Italian student study in the school. I’ll tell you how does my school day work everyday. My school starts on 8.00 AM from Monday-Friday and it ends on 2.00 PM. Everyday we have 4 blocs of subject which every bloc spends 1.30 hours. We take a break on 11 AM for 15 minutes to buy some snacks. I attend a scientific school, so we study more about science, which are; Physics, Math, Chemistry, Biology, English Literature, Latin, Italian Literature, Philosophy, History, Art, and Autonomy. I can say that my classmates study a lot either In the class or at home. Actually, my teachers are really kind but during the lesson they’re very strict. The lesson is more based on book so there are a lot of homeworks that order the student to make a summary. The school year is divided to 4 months which every 4 months consist of oral and written exam. The learning method applied here is the students have to remember all of the material that have been taught before and one day, the teachers will ask them to repeat the material. Excluding on it, there are also a lot of homeworks in every subject. It makes the students study a lot even after they got home. Because of this exchange program, I’ve got an opportunity to be an Italian student. It makes me study as much as my friends do(Even if still much lesser). I’ve attended some written exams and also oral test. Despite the fact that my speaking skill is still low and even my Italian skill. Like I don’t always understand what my teachers explain during the class. But, they really appreciate me everytime I do my exam and speak Italian. It’s so kind of them!

Back to the topic of Italian culture. I really agreed the rumors which say that Italian are really friendly. One of the things that I like from student exchange program is I can meet a lot of new people who are really warm to me. I’m really treated well here. They always appreciate me on my effort, they always say “Tranquilo” / “Keep calm” or “Non ti preoccupare” / “Don’t worry” whenever I do something wrong or I become such a burden for them. They always offer their help to me and they also cheer me up whenever I’m sad. It really warms me inside and it also motivates me to do more effort to be a better person.

And now, winter’s still going on and I need to wear layered outfit everytime even at home. But, you know what? I feel the warm inside my body from the people here.