Exeter Summer is a place where many different people from many different cultures come together to learn about each other and have new experiences. Some students come from far off places, ranging from the sun-bathed blue beaches of Greece to the green tropical rainforests of Brazil. So arriving here can be a bit of a culture shock.
Take a kind girl with bright hazel eyes named Serena Bosco, a 16-year old from Rome. On the bright, maroon couches of the library she chatted about her life in Italy. She was enthusiastic and excited to tell her story. “The reason why I considered school in the U.S. was because I am part American,” Serena said. Her father is American but her mother is Italian. When asked how she coped and felt about being part of two completely different worlds she said, “ you feel as though you don’t really belong to both cultures.” Serena talked about how it felt weird and how she never felt that she fully belonged in both, even though she felt she was from Italy. “Italy is my home… but different”.
Asked how the U.S. differed from Italy, she said the first word that popped into her head was, “overwhelming.” Not only are the streets, buildings, and places much bigger than back home but when it comes to the people, the difference is outstanding. “They say ‘hi’ to you,” said Serena with a wondrous smile. “People are more open-minded.” She recalled the time she was walking in the streets of Boston and a gay couple passed her. “It’s so cool. In Italy it’s more behind.” Although Serena feels as though she will never fully be a part of both worlds, when asked if she would ever live in the States , she said, “I would never live here… it’s just too big. Italy feels like family.”
Reema Alonaizan, a 16-year old girl from Saudi Arabia, also found herself in a strikingly different environment. Saudi Arabia has very limited rights for women, although the government is slowly giving them the freedom they deserve. The states are very different from Saudi Arabia, since woman have many, many rights and with each passing year gain more independence. “Women were not allowed to leave the country without permission of a man,” said Reema matter-of-factly.
“Women were not allowed to drive.” But she said, “Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud helped give women their rights.” He is the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, who is opening up more and more opportunities for women. For example, he has recently given three months of maternity leave for all working mothers in the country.
As for fashion, Reema said, “Women like to overly dress and always wear like full make-up.” So much for stereotypes. If you think about it, it is not at all different from western fashion since women here as well love to dress up and wear as much makeup as possible. That just goes to show how close are cultures actually are, if we only talk to one another.