I joined an exchange project in secondary school, which was a collaboration between Dutch, German and Italian students. We researched the problems that come from immigration and integration and tried to find solutions. After the German students came to the Netherlands in September 2011, the Dutch students went to Italy in April 2012. We stayed with host families in Trieste, a city near the border with Slovenia.
I was lucky to be with a host family together with two of my friends. Our host family consisted of two parents who only spoke Italian, one girl of our age and two much younger children. We were also lucky because the mother loved cooking and was very (very!!) good at it and the apartment was very spacious. Not all students were that lucky. Two of my friends for example ended up in a very small apartment far from the city centre.
We didn’t spend that much time at home though. We spent lots of time in the school of Trieste working on the project and when we weren’t, we were exploring the city. The weather was really nice, so we were outside a lot, strolling around, shopping a bit, eating some ice cream, sunbathing on the pier. We also went out to eat some italian pizza with the whole group. I got to know a lot of amazing people on this trip and of course I also learned a lot. I had to do a presentation in English for all Italian, German and Dutch students, and the Italian parents and all the teachers. Even the mayor of Trieste was there! I was super nervous, but everything went well. I also got to practice trying to understand Italian for the first time. I already loved the language at that point.
The main square of Trieste, piazza dell’Unità d’Italia was very beautiful. You had a beautiful view of the sea and one of the buildings had gold in the facade, so that it reflected gold during the sunset. There was a pretty fountain on the square, right before the town hall. It was a great spot to take some pictures. There was a line of little blue lights across the square that indicated where the water had been during a flooding some time ago. The pier was also very nice. We went sunbathing there once and we went there while it was dark too. There was a beautiful view both times, looking out over the sea the first time and seeing the lights of distant villages the second time.