Mingling With the Locals: Add a Seat
Written by Carley March 7, 2017
While traveling to different countries is definitely one of the highlights of studying abroad, after 7 weeks here I’ve also come to greatly appreciate getting to know the culture and people of Italy. Through the Add a Seat experience, I’ve humbly come to the conclusion that the people here are just as excited to express their appreciation for our culture, as well as learn more about it, as we are to learn about Italian culture.
One of the more popular opportunities CIMBA has to offer is the Add a Seat program, in which CIMBA students eat dinner with a local Italian family. Because we share a building with the Institute Filippin, the high school students have the chance to sit in on a few of our classes. This allows us to meet them prior to the Add a Seat Program, in which many of these students serve as the hosts and hostesses.
Four other girls and I were lucky enough to be hosted by the Campagnolo family, who partakes in the Add a Seat Program every semester. To be honest, before the event I was a little apprehensive about going to dinner at a complete stranger’s house. I wasn’t sure what we’d eat (as a picky eater this was my biggest concern), what we’d talk about, or if they spoke English well enough to hold a steady conversation.
To my surprise, the three kids as well as their dad spoke fluent English and might have even known more about American culture than me (I’m not kidding – they even knew what type of dog the Obama family has). Mr. Campagnolo mentioned one of his favorite places in the United States was Chicago… and that’s when I knew I really liked them.
Dinner consisted of endless dishes of Italian food imported from all over Italy, including Caprese Salad, Prosciutto, pickled onions, Gnocchi, an assortment of different breads, and cheeses. After dinner, we talked with the 2 girls that attend the InsTitute Filippin- Chiara and Marta. After two hours of talking about movies, music, and even the Kardashians, I realized despite geographical and sometimes language differences, people really are the same everywhere.
We also had the opportunity to talk about what they do in their free time and compare their life styles to those of students in the United States, which were surprisingly very similar – with the exception that Italian high school students usually have class on Saturdays (luckily for the Campagnolo girls, this isn’t a requirement at the Institute Filippin).
Just when I thought dinner couldn’t be any better, I had the chance to play with their two dogs and get my puppy fix. I’m pretty sure I held them from the time I was done eating until I left (I asked them if I could bring them back to CIMBA and they could take them home after school, but they weren’t really about that idea). After 4 hours of great food, conversation, dessert, and puppies, they drove us back to CIMBA and left us with new friends (snapchat friends, too) and great memories. For anyone that comes to CIMBA in the future, I would absolutely recommend this awesome event.