My first week in Italy on the Summer English Camp program was an orientation in Macerata, a town in the beautiful Marche region of eastern Italy. After sharing a hostel and connecting with the other participants, we traveled six hours to the northwestern coastal region of Ligure. Our host families were waiting to pick us up when we arrived and I was bit anxious to separate from the other English counselors.
The feeling didn’t last long though, as my host mom and dad were so welcoming! After a tour of their city, Sanremo, and some delicious gelato, I met their daughter and her family, with whom I bonded quickly.
The English camps end at 1 p.m., so participants have a lot of free time. Some afternoons we hung out together, soaking up the sun on a Mediterranean beach or exploring the area on our bikes. We spent other days with our respective host families, attending family functions, and learning local perspectives. Given our proximity to France, all our families brought us over the border at one point, which was really nice!
I have so many great memories with my host family in Sanremo, including riding bikes with my host mom and breakfasts at the downstairs café with my host dad. When I visited the area in August after my program, the café owners remembered my order!
After two weeks with my Sanremo family, it was time to say goodbye and meet my second host family in Falconara, a resort area on the Adriatic Coast. Melissa, another participant, stayed with the same family. We lived in their guesthouse and woke each morning to the rising sun over the ocean; it was beautiful!
After camp, the other counselors and I often went to the beach. Many times our host siblings joined us, which was a lot of fun. Some of my fondest memories are these afternoons at the beach, along with my trip to Sirolo with fellow participants and trips with my host family to Senigallia and Assisi.
My absolute favorite memories, however, are the dinners I shared with my host families. While dining in my Sanremo family's eclectic home or on their daughter's ocean-view terrace, we shared stories and laughs, especially when we had to use Google Translate for clarifications.
My host dad in Falconara often jammed on his guitar while we ate and one night we had a very entertaining conversation about American versus Italian animal sounds. I believe our conversations and time spent together during dinner is what brought us close together.
I enjoyed the hostel the first week of the program, but living with a host family gives you a much better sense of Italian culture. I’m lucky to have two Italian second families now. I was so sad to leave them (I cried each time I left!), but both reminded me, “You always have a place here.” We still keep in touch and I can’t wait to visit again!