Exchange Student Explores New Cultures Within America

Girardi works diligently in his physics class with his science teacher George Bonney. --Adam Bensimhon
Girardi works diligently in his physics class with his science teacher George Bonney. –Adam Bensimhon

For many international students, coming to America is something to check off their bucket list. Students like Italian Davide Girardi get the opportunity to spend either an entire year or a month and a half in the summer living with a host family. Girardi will be spending the next year with sophomore Matt Hoffman and his family.

The biggest differences for Girardi between Rockville and his home town, Milan, one of the fashion capitals in the world are “the way people think” and “clothes,” he said. While living in Rockville, he enjoys playing basketball and playing guitar with his host brother Matt.

The hardest part of being so far away from home is missing his girlfriend. However, he keeps in touch with her, his family and his friends by using Facebook Skype. and other social media outlets.

Girardi spent most of his first days using his phone to translate. Many exchange students come to America with a minimal understanding of the language, but learn English because of the hands-on experience. “Communication is a big [problem]a��He really couldn’t speak any English” Hoffman said. However he has been improving greatly over his time here in America with this new culture.

Girardi is not the first exchange student the Hoffman’s have hosted. However, Girardi is the first exchange student to stay an entire year with them.

Rockville senior Marisa Clery spent last year in Viterbo, Italy. “The first few days [were] somewhat difficult a�� you play a lot of charades and the words you need to know you learn quickly,” Clery said.

Along with going to a new country being good for the individual, it is also good for colleges and the workplace. Many of them are looking for students who not only know other languages, but who have worked with people from other countries.

Studying and living abroad can be a highly rewarding experience that can have a lasting impact on a student’s life for many years. Spanish teacher, Madeline Rudman spent a summer semester in Salamanca, Spain, but ended up moving back and living there for seven and a half years. She now teaches at RHS in the language she had to speak when she was in Spain.

“The best way to learn the language is to be fully immersed in the culture and language and not have the ability to speak your first language a�� it’s just an amazing experience and I highly recommend it to anyone,” Rudman said.