Silvia Affronte is an Italian student who is currently attending Gimnazija Celje – Center. She came here as an exchange student in the end of August and will be staying with her host family till the end of November. We asked her if she would be willing to answer some of our questions and she kindly did so.
Silvia doesn’t speak Slovene and coming here was a great challenge for her. As it was for all our teachers. Here you can read an article on how they are coping with language barriers that come with a foreign student.
SLEDKO: What do you think about Slovenia?
SILVIA: Slovenia is one of the most beautiful countries I’ve ever seen. It’s full of nature, so simple but yet so amazing. I’m having the best time of my life here. It seems like there’s always something to do and you really don’t have time to be sad like I was before. This country is bringing me back to life.
How do you find our school?
The school is very big and a bit confusing because it is very different from my Italian school. Anyway, I like my classmates, even if most of the time I have no idea what they’re talking about. Some of them are even trying to come and talk to me and that’s very nice, I appreciate it a lot. Most of the professors are trying to make it easier for me by translating the main topic of the lesson in English and that’s also very nice. I’m happy to be attending this school.
What differences did you notice between your school and ours?
Well, let’s start by saying that they are very, very different. In Italy we go to school from Monday to Saturday (yes, we have school on Saturday). The school day starts at 8.00 AM and ends at 1.00 PM. Every lesson lasts 55- 60 minutes and we don’t switch classrooms. We don’t have breaks between the lessons apart from one 10-minute break from 10.55 to 11.05. The funniest difference is that we wear shoes inside the school and it’s so funny to see students going around in slippers. Another difference is that we don’t have lockers. Our summer holidays are very long, from around the 10th of June to half September. Then we have 2 weeks for Christmas, 1 week for Easter and some spare days of vacation, like for All Saints’ day and Labour day.
Did you learn any new words in slovenian language so far?
Well, I can say ˝Živjo, jaz sem Silvia. Stara sem 17 let˝ and then, since I live on a farm, I’m learning words like piščanček, piščanec, mačka, miš, bala, krava, konj, grablje, rosa. And then brat, sestra, zaspana, lačna, prijatelja, lepa, profesor, šola. I’m learning numbers and the days of the week and I can say my favourite colour, zelena. Oh, I can also say ˝Harry Potter in Princ mešane krvi˝ (which is my favourite Harry Potter movie by the way). 😉
Did you have any doubts about coming here?
I think everyone has doubts. Coming here was a big challenge for me, expecially in this period of my life. I had many fears about language, different culture, living in other people’s house. But now I’m so happy to be here and I overcame all my fears and there’s nothing I regret about this experience.
Do you miss your family or do you feel homesick?
I definitely don’t miss home. I was having a dark period when I was in Italy and this opportunity to come to Slovenia came just at the right moment. Now I’m feeling better and I hope I’ll be able to bring this happiness back with me at the end of my exchange. The only person I really miss is my best friend Liliana, she’s one of the most important people in my life and she’s the kind of best friend I think everyone should have in their life.
How did your new classmates accept you?
Well, for the first few days I felt like a complete stranger. I really didn’t know how to make friends, I’ve never been good at it. Then I started to talk to other people, but most of the effort came from them and I’m very thankful for this. One of my schoolmates added me to their class chat on Facebook and even if it might seem a small thing, to me it meant a lot and I appreciated it so much. I see that they’re trying to make me a part of their world. Now I can say that I’m getting along very well with all of them and if you’re one of my classmates and you’re reading this, just know that I’m very happy to be with you all, I couldn’t really ask for better. And if you’re another student of the school you can feel free to add me on Facebook to chat sometimes, or stop me in the corridor and ask me questions, or just say ˝Hi˝, I’d like to meet as many of you as possible!
Do you have any ideas for improvement of our school?
Honestly I think your school is a very good one, but I’ve been here for such a short time and I really can’t give any advice. I’ll be glad to answer this question at the end of my exchange. 🙂
Do you like your host family?
Sure! I’m so glad that AFS chose this family, they’re the best. They already consider me as an actual member of their family. They are all so full of positivity and good feelings that maybe I’ll start to think like them sooner or later, even though I’m a very pessimistic person. Fun fact: coming here, I was worried about the volume of my voice because, like almost every Italian, I speak quite loudly. Well, I found out that they speak even louder than me! And they also have a lot of hand gestures, like me. I really have found the perfect family.
What do you think of the Italian class?
It’s so nice! I just love seeing people trying to learn my language, and I must say that they’re doing very well! I understand that it’s such a hard language and it can be very confusing for you, especially the pronunciation, which is very different from yours. If you’re having some problems with the Italian language, feel free to text me for clarifications.
Thank you for all the answers!
We wish Silvia a pleasant stay here with us in Celje. We hope she gets to uncover as much about our culture as she can and that she makes many new friends that will last a lifetime.