While most Rio students were sleeping or frantically completing their homework at 11 p.m., Italians are just beginning their morning routine.
Senior Ella Murray was included in this, beginning her school day at 8 a.m. 6,000 miles from home.
Murray spent the last year abroad in Parma, Italy.
When she arrived last September she experienced a bit of a culture shock.
“Mainly it was because of the language,” she said. “It was hard to communicate with my host family.”
But other than that, it wasn’t too hard to adjust.
Her typical school day began by taking the bus to the city, where she attended school from 8 a.m. to 1p.m. She took all of her courses in Italian, except for her one English class.
There was one main difference between the school in Italy and Rio that stuck out to her.
There teachers rotate and come to students, rather than students changing classrooms. She stayed in the same room, with the same group of classmates the entire day.
Evenings were spent at soccer practice for her competitive team.
Murray also traveled throughout Italy, visiting places like Cinque Terre.
“Cinque Terre is five different towns on the side of mountains that look over the sea,” she said. “You have your beach towns, but on mountains.”
She was able to visit there a few times, and described it as “the most beautiful place ever.”
In Italy, she noted that meals were an important event.
“Dinner could last three hours,” Murray said.
But she was served excellent food, her favorite being cappelletti, a type of pasta.
This experience has greatly impacted her and her world views.
“I became more confident and open to trying new things,” she said. “I am more curious about the world and other cultures.”
She is now fluent in Italian and isn’t afraid to “put myself out there.”
Murray’s final year of high school will be spent playing in the AM band as well as Small Ensemble.
She is also considering starting a “Studying Abroad” club or an Italian club.
As for students considering studying abroad, Murray said, “If you can do it, do it. It will be the best experience of your life.”