Erasmus +

Latvia, 5th – 11th February 2018

by Edoardo Annoni, Arianna Arnaudo, Edoardo Canobbio, Beatrice Elzi, Veronica Pellizzaro, Niccolò Piran, Matteo Rossetti, Carlotta Zerini (2ª Liceo Scientifico) 

Hi! Nice to meet you! We are Edoardo A., Arianna, Edoardo C., Beatrice, Veronica, Niccolò, Matteo and Carlotta. We are students from the second year of the Liceo Scientifico (High School for Science) and we would really like to share our cross-cultural experience in Latvia with you. We had the chance to acquire knowledge of another country and culture. This exchange project offered us many benefits, such as a change from our “routine” class work, the opportunity to use a wide range of skills and language, a variety of activities accommodating different learning styles, the possibility to communicate in a real and meaningful way about our interests and above all a boost to motivation and enthusiasm and a sense of achievement.
This project called “Erasmus +” was a really informative and useful experience for us all. We learnt a lot, shared a lot and made good new friends!

Edoardo Annoni
Starting from the first year of the High School, we have been involved in an exchange project with other countries like Sweden (the coordinating country), Spain, Latvia, The Netherlands and Poland. The main focus of this project is internship and each country has to demonstrate how to deal with it. My classmates and I went to Latvia and we all spent our week with Latvian host families. Every day was a busy day: we attended school in the mornings, we did sports and we also visited famous landmarks of Latvia. We had lot of fun and we made new good friends from Latvia and Spain. One day we had a sauna all together and we did the craziest and funniest things ever! We played in the snow just wearing our swimsuits and then, freezing to our bones, we dashed back into the sauna room! It has been a great experience and honestly I would do it again right now!

Arianna Arnaudo
My experience in Latvia? A good experience without doubts! Well, it was quite hard but I really enjoyed it! I have already taken part in another exchange project but my previous one was pretty different to this. Latvian people are a bit cold, distant, shy and moody and they are different to us. My “host sister” Karina was like that at the beginning. She is a lovable and funny 18-year-old girl, she is blonde and she has got big, blue eyes. When I first met her, she was terribly shy and not very talkative. However, during my stay, we had long chats and we shared our hobbies and passions. Karina loves making sweets and baking cakes. She even baked a delicious cake for me on my arrival. In her family there are three people: Karina, her younger sister and her mum (Karina’s parents are divorced). The three of them live in a very big wooden house. Quite weird! Latvian people usually live either in a flat or in small houses far away from the town of Madona, where schools, main restaurants, shops and a gym are located. Even though I did not share my room with Karina (my room was on the second floor), we chatted a lot in the evenings. I learnt that Karina’s sister loves music and she takes music lessons at Karina’s school. Her mum cannot speak English; therefore, the two girls taught me some Latvian words such as “Sveki” (“Hello”) and “Ata” (goodbye”). Karina’s house is located 50 kilometers from her school. Every morning we woke up at 6:20am and we took a bus at 7am. So hard for me!!! I’m a sleepyhead! Their class work and lessons are completely different to ours. For example, they use Mathematical formulae and they are allowed to work in pairs during written tests! And do you know what? When the bell rings and a lesson is over, they take their time and they decide when to start the following lesson. Despite all these differences in culture and customs, I would definitely try this experience again. If I had not had this wonderful cross-cultural experience, I would have never met these wonderful people!  

Edoardo Canobbio
For our Erasmus Project, we spent a week in Latvia, where we had the chance to meet new Latvian and Spanish friends. We arrived at Latvia quite late in the evening and as soon as we got there, I said goodbye to my classmates and I met Davis, my Latvian “host brother.” At first, we were both shy and embarrassed and we had some communication problems. However, I soon found out how kind, lovely and friendly Davis and my host family were! They were always ready to help, very attentive to me and Davis was a great translator; he was always available to allow communication between his family and myself. My host family cooked delicious food for me (Dinner time? At 5:30pm!). At school, on the other hand, food was not that great. Just chicken, potatoes and vegetables! And I dearly missed pasta, pizza and my Italian food and habits! Our school building was huge. I must admit that lessons were a bit boring. We tried to do biathlon and we learnt lots of new things about Latvian history. During our one-week stay, it snowed every single day and it was very cold but we found some time to visit Riga and do some shopping. Freezing temperatures did not stop us from going out and having parties with the Spanish and Latvian guys! On my last day I was both happy and sad. I knew I would see my friends and my family again but I knew I would leave my new friends and those kind people I had met. Although our return trip was long and tiring and I looked forward to seeing my family, I would like to say that this experience was successful; I miss my Latvian family and friends but I am sure that we will meet again in future!

Beatrice Elzi
I think that Latvia was a beautiful experience; it was interesting and I realized how lucky I am! When I was in Latvia with my classmates I was very happy; we took part in lots of activities … we went skiing and cooked sweets. We visited Riga, the beautiful capital city of Latvia, and I really liked the old area of the city. I liked our school, I liked to eat at the school canteen and to visit museums in the small town of Madona. We went to several parties, as well!

Veronica Pellizzaro
From the 5th to the 11th of February, seven classmates of mine and I left for Latvia as part of a European Union project. Latvian families hosted us during our stay; Amanda was my “host sister.” I knew Amanda; she had come to Italy for her Erasmus Project last year. I was lucky! My family was very lovely and friendly; they tried to cook Italian food and, even though it was not so tasty, I did appreciate the effort. My daily routine was the following: I woke up at 6:00am and left home at 7:30am; I arrived at school at 8:00am and I had a 2-hour lesson. After a short break, I spent my time doing various activities at school. I always had lunch at the school canteen and then I attended some interesting courses such as Latvian dance or Latvian cuisine lessons. Once at home, I had dinner with my family and then I got ready for school parties. In Latvia I made some Spanish friends; I love them! They are so friendly and nice and now we are still in touch. Amanda is a good friend, as well. I have being trying to keep in touch with her, too. However, it is not so easy; she is culturally different to me. While in Latvia, I grew fond of Amanda’s pets: a cat and a chinchilla. The cat was so affectionate that he shared my bed every single night. It has been a wonderful experience. I have learnt a lot about Latvian culture, which I rather like. At the same time, I understood that I am very lucky to live in such a beautiful country as Italy.

Niccolò Piran
The first thing that comes to my mind about Latvia is that Latvian people are pretty different to us: they are not used to big greetings, they are very accurate and meticulous, their daily routine is well-organised and unfortunately they really cannot cook!!! Here is my week living with a Latvian host friend: we usually woke up at 7:30am. I was lucky! Unlike my classmates, I lived just a few minutes away from school. We had milk and cereals for breakfast and then we immediately left for school. What I really liked was the 2-hour PE lesson. We played basketball and it was such fun! After school, we visited a candy workshop, we took popular dance lessons, we did a biathlon (I loved shooting!) and one day we visited Riga, the capital city of Latvia. It is a weird city, full of pedestrian underpasses. If you plan to walk for a long time, remember to carry light bags otherwise you will get tired soon with all those long tunnels crossing through the city! Yet Riga is a fascinating city with a captivating history and intriguing legends about its places and people. We visited the national museum, we had a walk through the historical centre and we had a break at one of its traditional bars. All in all, I think that Latvian people are earnest and sincere and Latvia is the perfect place for those who like winter and solitary places!

Matteo Rossetti
We stayed in Latvia for an exchange project from the 5th to the 11th of February. We had the chance to practise our English and Spanish with other students. Some of them were from Spain while others were very good at English. We had lots of fun! We spent five days at Latvian families’ while we stayed in a hotel in Riga for the last day. We visited museums in Madona and Riga. I was impressed by the Latvian school system. School in Latvia is vocational and more pragmatic… school in Italy is more theoretical.

Carlotta Zerini
I went to Latvia with my classmates and two of our teachers in order to take part in an exchange project called “Erasmus +”. Six countries were involved in it: Latvia, Italy, Poland, Sweden, Spain and The Netherlands. However, only students from Italy, Latvia and Spain were attending during our stay there. We left Italy very early in the morning on February 5th and once in Riga, we caught a bus to Madona, a small town where we spent most of our time. We arrived at Madona at 7pm and I immediately met my host family: Ieva, a girl I hosted last year, Kristine, Ieva’s younger sister, Maris, her dad and Liene, her mum. During my stay, I lived in a small village called “Saulkasnavas”, which means “the city of snow”. As soon as I stepped into Ieva’s house, I immediately noticed the difference between my house and hers. Mine is very big while hers is a small flat. I liked it though. Problems soon began with food ... they really have different traditions and tastes. They use a lot of spices, onion and garlic. That smell made feel a bit sick but I tried to do my best in order not to disappoint my host family. Of course, their habits and customs are a world apart from ours but I learnt to appreciate that kind of contrast. At school I met Spanish students as well. Their culture and mentality is similar to the Italian one and I really got on well with them. Since there was not much to do in Madona, we sometimes spent our afternoons eating pizza in Italian pizzerias or having some sweets or desserts at the local bars. I recall my last day with lots of pleasure: I went to Riga with my classmates and once back home I found many homemade cupcakes, which Ieva and her mum had prepared for me to wish me goodbye. I really enjoyed my week at Ieva’s. Her family is lovely and I do love them all. I am glad I have found such a good friend as Ieva and I look forward to meeting her again as soon as possible. I would recommend this experience to anyone. It helps you to grow up and to acquire knowledge of other countries, cultures and traditions!
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