(OR-T – ZAY)
I’m a foreign exchange student from Italy and I’m here at City High for the year. It has been a big change and challenge for me but I tell you, it’s worth it.
Being away from home for so long is not easy and it’s normal to get homesick. I want to tell you more about it, so maybe you understand me.
It’s a town located in South Tyrol, in the north of Italy, half an hour from Austria.
Ortisei has about 5,000 inhabitants and is situated in Val Gardena at 4055 ft. The valley is in the Dolomites, a mountain chain in the Alps.
The Dolomites was named a UNESCO Natural World Heritage site in 2009. The highest mountain is the Sassolungo at 10,436 ft.
Ortisei is best known for skiing and hiking in summer. Tourists also like to visit the small downtown with souvenir and clothes shops. For people that like museums, there is one that shows geology, archeology, sculpture and toys made out of wood.
For skiing, the most well known and used cable car is the red one that brings you to the Alpe di Siusi, which is one of the most wide plateaus of Europe. On the other side of the valley we have the Seceda cable car that takes you up to 8200 ft. Otherwise you can take a similar tram that brings you on to Rasciesa, best known for sledding.
The primary language spoken in Val Gardena is Ladin, mainly consisting of a group of dialects.
It is closely related to Swiss Romansh and Friulian and spoken by about 40,000 native speakers. In the rest of South Tyrol, the main language is German but Italian is also taught at school.
In my town, almost everybody has the same last name and the three most popular ones are Moroder, Demetz and Kostner. That’s why almost everybody is also related to each other.
Ortisei is the capital town of Val Gardena, the two other towns are Santa Cristina, known for the Saslong slope in Ski World Cup and Selva which is very pretty and fun in wintertime. It has a lot of after-ski party places and is popular for young people. The closest big city is Bolzano with about 100,000 people, which is also the city where I’m going to school.
If you visit, I’m sure you would have a lot of fun. I hope I have given you an image of it and hope you enjoy the beautiful pictures.
It’s weird to talk and write about my home, knowing that I have to wait more than 4 months until I can see it again. But I’m of course enjoying the time here in Iowa City a lot and I’m going to miss everything here when I have to leave. City High is a very awesome and cool school and it’s always fun.
My favorite place in Iowa City is definitely downtown, because there are so many restaurant choices and you always find something to do. I’m definitely going to tell everybody in Italy how great it’s here and encourage them to visit or going to college to Iowa City (I hear the partying is awesome). But of course I also encourage you to visit the Alps because it’s really spectacular and it’s not so flat like Iowa.
When I decided to do an exchange year in America I didn’t expect to get to Iowa. I honestly didn’t know where it was. But I was of course still pretty excited to come here, get to know people and enjoy my year. It has been more than awesome and I really encourage people to try a year abroad because it’s always going to be a fun and unforgettable year. Of course you are going to be homesick sometimes, but it’s part of it. You start to care about special people that you meet and realize how you change. Going back is not going to be easy at all. A lot of things at home change, friends change, school does. Catching up with all the subjects that I missed at my school is not going to be easy either because when I get home I have attend another final year. I’ve already been warned to prepare myself mentally. But of course I don’t want to think about that yet. I’m going to enjoy every moment here, hang out with my friends, host family and try out everything possible.
I tell you guys that it’s an incredible experience. I encourage you to study abroad and maybe learn a new language. No risk, no fun, that is my motto.