Ciao! My name is Kaylee Harris '18 and over spring break this year I was able to spend some of the best days of my life in Italy with the Marist Italian exchange program. I was fortunate enough to first host an Italian exchange student in April of 2017 and host another Italian student in November of 2017. Going on this trip gave me the opportunity to put my Italian language skills to the test and reunite with the Italian exchange students.
Accompanied by Brother Massimo, the president of L’Instituto Champagnat in Genova, we spent our first few days in Milan where we visited the Duomo Florence Cathedral, Castello Sforzesco, and of course did lots of shopping! Next, we traveled to Rome where we spent Easter Sunday and stayed at L’Instituto San Leone Magno. Brother Massimo toured us around different spots in the city such as the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, and the Roman Forum. After a few days of visiting Rome, we went to the Vatican. Walking through the incredible St. Peter’s Basilica all during the Easter holiday felt like a dream.
Lastly, we headed to Genova, one of my favorite parts of the trip, where I was able to reunite with the Italian exchange students that came to Chicago. I felt very immersed in the culture as I stayed with an Italian host family, spoke Italian, and attended school with the students at L’instituto Champagnat. My host family showed me around the area, including a trip to Portofino, and encouraged me to try new foods such as focaccia, pesto, salsa di noci, and a lot of new gelato flavors! We also had a few day trips with the group to a basil farm to learn how to make pesto and to a city on the sea called Camogli.
Overall, this exchange gave me a new world perspective and pushed me out of my comfort zone to practice a different language and experience a different culture. It also allowed me to build lifelong friendships with my exchange partners and experience the Marist family globally. I am so grateful to all the teachers who worked so hard to make this exchange possible, especially Señora Nathan Gamauf, Mrs. Zulato, Mr. Brant, and Brother Massimo. Now having experienced an exchange trip twice at Marist (first traveling with Marist to Barcelona my junior year), I strongly encourage everyone to experience being an exchange student at least once because it is truly life changing.
Check out Kaylee's video from the trip!