From seaside to lakeside

My experience as an exchange student


Luca Aimo

Traveling abroad is an experience that everybody should do anytime there’s an opportunity. So, for a while, I said farewell to everything I loved, my city, my family, the Alps, the seaside and my amazing friends because I knew there was something I was missing: staying in the same place was limiting. I knew what I was losing, but I didn’t know what I was going to find, but I tend to be quite optimistic.

I’m really grateful for all the support and love I received from everyone when I left. I landed in Newark, passed the customs, waited for the plane to Minneapolis, reached the twin cities and there I was, ready for my new life.

Things were great — my family was amazing, the neighborhood was friendly, the day before my first day of school I had coffee with my future classmates, and they were super nice. The first day of school was incredible, people were welcoming, teachers loved their students, I had become The Exchange student, most of the school wanted to be talking with me. Lunches were so much fun! You really felt loved, it was such an amazing community! It was a huge change from my reality in Italy. There still were things I couldn’t understand… I had a lot of questions.

Then Amir Locke was killed.

All the school was actively participating in what was going on in the city. There was a walkout on Feb. 8, many interviews, students and teachers speaking out on the local news, everybody wanted to do something to help. The school wanted to contribute to this common effort. You could feel it.

On Feb. 9, Deshaun Hill, from North high school, was shot.

The entire school was crying, you could feel it, you wanted to cry. It just didn’t seem fair. It was all anger and sadness.

It all started to make more sense. My parents didn’t allow me to go to school anymore and MSP was going to go on strike, so we started looking for a new place. Rumors were talking about what would have been the teachers’ strike.

That Sunday, I went anyway to Deshaun’s memorial, and it was an incredible experience, all the gospel songs, people shouting, crying and singing. I knew I was seeing some people for the last time ever and I felt more than ever a member of that community. I felt terrible because I was the symbol of a school that wanted to change and after all they had done for me I was leaving — what happened to that community was not acceptable and I was just leaving.

I had to find a new place, make new friends, learn everything again… but I was still very excited and, anyway, I didn’t have much choice. St. Louis Park was a completely different thing: people were nice, but colder than they had been at North.

I consider myself quite talkative, but it still took a while to make friends here. Luckily there were the other exchange students, they were super kind and welcoming and it was great to have someone nice to talk to at lunch. Joining the track team was a great choice, because I had the opportunity to meet a lot of nice people and make some good friends. 

Finally I feel like I am finding the right people here. I don’t know what will happen to me in the next month and how I will feel when all of this will be over, but if you have a chance to go anywhere just do it and you won’t regret it.