'This is my year:' Italian exchange student capitalizing opportunity abroad

Angela Pisanu

WORTHINGTON — While Angela Pisanu’s time at Worthington High School is limited, the 16-year-old has big ambitions of leaving a long-lasting legacy.

“This is my year,” said the Italian exchange student of her positive attitude toward her 10-month exchange in America. “I feel really really lucky.”

Since late August, Pisanu has been getting more familiar with life in rural America, a big portion of which includes attending high school.

“Everything about school is really different,” Pisanu said of her limited American school experience compared to her science-focused school in Italy.

A few of the more noticeable differences include younger teachers in America and feeling more comfortable to ask for further explanation, she said.


“Teachers here are more focused on the student, and not the grade,” she said. “So here it’s easy — if I don’t understand something, I have no problem asking for a further explanation.”

As someone from a science-based high school, Pisanu’s Worthington High School chemistry teacher told her she was already prepared. She switched to Advanced Placement, and now volunteers to help other students in the chemistry class.

“It’s a good experience for my exchange,” Pisanu said.

While Pisanu said her decision to come to the United States was a good choice, she admitted to being on the fence about it.

From Sardinia, an island in Italy, Pisanu thought an exchange would provide many positive opportunities for her, like better developing her English language skills, but she was nervous. A vacation to Barcelona, Spain with her father and sister was ultimately what helped her make her decision.

“I was the only one who could speak English,” Pisanu said, adding that it wasn’t perfect, but adequate.

With a newfound confidence that she could adequately communicate abroad, Pisanu scrambled to get her application submitted.

She was accepted, and is thankful to be in southwest Minnesota, where she currently lives with Richard and Cindy Penning. She’ll have a new host family after December.


“It was a really good choice,” Pisanu said about deciding to take a year in America.

Pisanu is excited for the upcoming speech and swimming seasons, though she admitted she hasn’t participated in sports before.

She has also noticed that her English has improved since arriving to Worthington, but as someone who has big expectations of herself, "better" leaves room for further advancement.

“I’m not really shy — I’m friendly — but when I have to talk in front of people I’m really shy,” she said. “It’s another way to challenge myself.”

Pisanu said other students have taken an interest in where she’s from and what it’s like there, which she welcomes. Likewise, she’s had fun experiencing what American teenagers do. She went with friends last weekend to the cross country team’s haunted house, and also went ice skating for the first time.

“I was so bad because I’ve never done that,” she said, laughing. ”There were two friends holding my hand.”

Pisanu said there are times when she misses her family back in Italy, but she’s incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity — something she said not everyone has.

To help with the homesickness, her dad has sent a care package of some of her favorite Italian foods — the pizza and pasta in America just isn’t the same.


Two months into her 10-month exchange, Pisanu has plenty of time left, and she has big plans.

“I want to do something new, but that will stay here after I leave,” she said.

Related Topics: EDUCATION
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