Syafila Firdha Nafeeza–INA AFS to ITA YP 22/23
“I will go for my exchange year to Italy. I once said to myself, “I wish I would end up in a big city like Milan, Turin, Florence, and so on,” eventhough I knew that every place in the world has its own unique beauty.
A few days later, I got an email from AFS Indonesia with details on my placement, in which it was stated that I would be spending my exchange year in Sardegna. I had not even known at the time that this amazing area, where I have been living for a year now, existed. Then I started looking for information on Sardegna, specifically in Fonni, where I currently reside. Sincerely, at first, I believed that there was nothing I could do here except drastically alter my way of life.
There is a lot of ethereal beauty in this area; in fact, all Italians agree that Sardegna, with its beach, mountains, and other natural features, is like an island in heaven. Even though it gets really chilly in the winter, the first week I had no desire to take a bath. Really beautiful and delightful people can be found here. Even though I do not think they all know who I am or what I am doing in their town, they always welcome me when I arrive in the town. Sardinians are passionate people who like delicious food, loud music, colorful costumes, and energetic dancing. Additionally, Sardegna has vibrant, rich cultures that are still alive and well, as evidenced by the dances and songs. I always go to festivals and participate in the traditional dance. Moreover, I picked up knowledge that I never had in Indonesia. Start with correct knife use, gardening, and so forth.
After my Italian class, an elderly woman approached me and started asking me a few things. She mentioned that one of the inquiries was, “Are you Asian?” “Yes, I am an Indonesian exchange student with INTERCULTURA right now.” She then began to query once more. “Really? You are such a strong and intelligent young lady! Anyway, I am from a town close to Nuoro, albeit I currently reside there. It makes me very sad to see how teens today are beginning to disregard their culture.We do not need to lose sight of the culture we were born into. Due to the fact that you are also an exchange student, I would like to ask you to please remember your culture even though you are thousands of miles away from Indonesia.” When I heard what I had not anticipated, I was immediately shocked.
Speaking about culture, I have also highlighted our Indonesian customs here in addition to learning about other civilizations. They are very curious to learn about our nation. I have done a variety of activities, such as teaching them the Maumere dance, giving Indonesian presentations, and playing Indonesian music on the piano, which is my preferred instrument at school. Wow, you also study music at school? Here, I attended a music school, which, at first, I never imagined I would attend. But going back, when we achieve something exceptional, we will step outside of our comfort zone, and I believe that trying new things is challenging and interesting at the same time.
I still have the chance to travel to major Italian cities despite being a girl who lives in a small island. We have many opportunities to learn and experience things in our own ways while still providing for our needs. For example, I was able to participate in an exchange week in Veneto region, near Venice in April. The atmosphere, housing design, and people are all distinct from those in Sardegna, which is an interesting fact. However, there are many things I can learn to help me appreciate every variation and adapt well.
Italy, Fonni, May 2023
I have come to the realization that, after Indonesia, Italy will be my second home. My time on exchange will soon come to an end, but I am grateful to have had an unforgettable year here. Going to and coming from school is no longer accompanied by the lovely scenery of mountains, forests, and various animals such; horses, sheep, and pigs. The wintertime with the snow-covered mountains is no longer present. There will be no more eating pizza every week while on break and waiting for my music schedule, and there will not be any more ballo sardo at PCTO events at my school. But in my heart right now, every “No more” will change to “They will be,” and I will always remember it.