‘America became my new home,’ Italian exchange student said


'I LIKE TO LIVE IN AMERICA'- Elonora Libe and Aurelien Ali have been exchange students from Italy and Belgium, respectively at La Conner High School this year. Now graduated, they will soon be heading home. -Photo by Marissa Conklin

Even though Eleonora Libé got sick her first days here after what seemed to her an endless flight, she is living her dream since then over the last nine months.

The senior exchange student at La Conner High School turned 18 years old this April in Washington state, away from her family. This is the adventure she chose to live back in 2020, when she saw on social media other exchange students from her country in American schools. Stressed with Italian school and eager to travel and discover another culture, she convinced her hesitant parents to leave Italy for one year and attend an American High School.

She arrived in the area early September and had to deal with the first few days: “I was homesick and wanting to go home as soon as I got here, I was also sick from the plane.” But her worries quickly vanished when she started to make new friends and enjoy being here.

She also felt nervous about school. “I expected school to be harder, but it was the opposite,” she said, “classes are easy and teachers help you a lot, while in Italy you are on your own.” She noted that schools here are very focused on sports. She joined the track team; doing long jump, javelin, 100 yard and 200 yard dash. Even if she felt a lot of pain running, she had fun with all her friends and enjoyed the meets.

Although she prefers Italian food, she loves how people act with kindness here. “I have received a lot of compliments, like people would walk up to me and tell me I was pretty” she said. She lives on North Third Street in front of the Marina, with her host mom Tracy. She was very enthusiastic to be sent to this part of the country, in a town she describes as very beautiful and where people are really friendly. She became comfortable living here and describes America as her new home, since she has lived here for almost one year.

Libé’s biggest wish came true when she went to Los Angeles in December: “I was dreaming about going to LA for a very long time, I was so happy, I couldn’t believe it.” She also visited Washington, D.C. during spring break. She is bringing back to Italy her little cat that her host mom adopted for her because she loves animals.

Libé is feeling bittersweet about leaving. She created a new life here to which it will be difficult to say goodbye. She will miss her friends and La Conner a lot. But she is excited about going home and getting back to her old life. She will finish her last year of high school and then go to the University of Milan, near her city Piacenza, to become a veterinarian.

She is taking the plane for Italy in less than two weeks. Hopefully she will not get sick this time.

Aurelien Ali, an exchange student from Belgium, is job shadowing at the Weekly News.


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