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Senior Italian Student Says “Bravo” About Studying at North Atlanta

Senior Alessandro Panizza is making the most of his year away from home as an exchange student at North Atlanta.

Laila Nicholson

Senior Alessandro Panizza is making the most of his year away from home as an exchange student at North Atlanta.

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Alessandro Panizza, a new student in his senior year at North Atlanta, is a one-year exchange student from Italy.   

His high school back home is the Belfiore Scientific School in Mantova, a historic city in the northern province of Lombardia. Since his college-preparatory school is a five-year program, next year he’ll return for his final year there.

He currently lives in Buckhead with a host family and he said he’s enjoyed their hospitality and also getting to know his new “American little brother,” the couple’s six-year-old son. The decision to become an exchange student was something he took on for personal development. “I wanted to try something new and to push myself and this seemed like a good way to do it,” he said.  

Panizza said the contrasts between the two countries are distinct and that the high-school experience is quite different, as well. “This school is so big and there are so many people. It’s even hard to make it through everyone to get to class,” he said.

He’s been studying English since the seventh grade and Panizza said he built up a degree of proficiency in the language back home. “But here, my English has really improved. I’ve noticed I’m getting stronger,” he said.

In his opinion, the crowded atmosphere of North Atlanta isn’t a bad thing because it’s easier to make new friends. Another part of the school he loves is the expansive building, especially the gym, mostly because of his love for the sport of basketball. “In Italy we don’t get to play basketball much but here I get to play it in the gym at school all the time,” he said.

Another thing he said he enjoyed is the ability to choose his own schedule, which can’t be done in his school back home since it has such a specific scientific framework. “We can choose our classes here instead of having to follow certain pre-determined courses,” he said.

Beyond the freedoms and the basketball-playing opportunities, Panizza said he has enjoyed his new school’s teachers. “They are more empathetic than my teachers back home,” he said.

Panizza is enjoying life in the U.S. as a whole, but his home country still has a big spot in his heart. And in terms of the things he misses, they all start with the letter “f”: family, friends and food. “I’m sorry but there is definitely no comparison the food here to the food in Italy,” he said.

Leaving his home for a year as an exchange student has been a huge change, but he said he’s been glad to have the opportunity to be at North Atlanta. “Everything has been interesting and and new. And that’s really what all adventures should be like,” he said.

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Thinking with Excellence to Inform and Enlighten
Senior Italian Student Says “Bravo” About Studying at North Atlanta