Picture this: You’re staying with a family you have never met before, who only speak your second language. Your real family, pets, and your friends that you’ve known since childhood are an ocean away. Now you are expected to go to a new school completely different than you’re used to.
For most students this would seem a frightening situation, but for junior Anna Patron, this meant an exciting opportunity: traveling from her hometown in Italy to study at J-D. For Patron, coming to the U.S. to study meant a lot more than just learning a new language. Her older sister, Martina, had previously wanted to participate in an exchange program, but was unable to because of the pandemic. So, when Patron saw the opportunity, she leaped at it.
Patron says that the most shocking thing about the U.S. so far is ”how friendly and outgoing everyone is, even to people they do not personally know.”
Besides taking classes at J-D, Patron also played for the school tennis team during the fall season, and in her free time she enjoys listening to music and cooking. According to Patron, her biggest challenge “is going into situations not knowing anyone, but having a host sister my age that I am very close with helps a lot.”
Her host family is the Keough family, with children Megan (‘24) and Ryan (‘26), who both attend school in the district. Patron exclaims that Megan has convinced her to try stage crew for the musical at J-D this spring, which is just an example of their sisterly bond.
Although Patron is thoroughly enjoying her stay, she admits she misses her parents and pets back home. She has a dog named Tina and a cat named Pepe, meaning Pepper in Italian. Patron’s mother works in financing, social work, and loves to spend time outside, and her father is a sales engineer who spends time taking care of her grandparents, watching sports, and hiking in the mountains.
She grew up traveling with her parents and says that the biggest thing they impressed on her was ”the mindset that the best memories come from traveling (and the idea that) it is really important to get in touch with new cultures and know other people’s way of life.”
Patron will conclude the 2022-2023 school year here at J-D before traveling home to Venice, Italy to unite with her family. Beyond that, she says she is excited for her upcoming trips, including a trip to Barcelona in August and London in October.