Guglielmo Oselladore has been in the United States for just more than a month.
Guglielmo Oselladore has been in the United States for just more than a month, and cultural differences are beginning to define themselves for the tall, dark and handsome 17-year-old from Milan, Italy.
He is an exchange student being sponsored by Sharon and Lonnie Hopkins of Stately Pines, who have two grown sons and room for an international guest to live as he studies at Havelock High School.
Lonnie Hopkins is retired after 3 1/2 decades at Fleet Readiness Center East at Cherry Point. Sharon Hopkins is a homemaker who Oselladore says "makes awesome cakes."
The cuisine is different from the northern Italian fare of mostly pasta and pizza at home, he said, but his smile as he talks about food at the Hopkinsí home shows the change is quite palatable.
"Sharon asks if I miss the food in Italy," he said. "I donít miss it because I like to try a lot of things. She cooks very well."
"They are very nice with me," Oselladore said. "They speak with me slow and repeat, repeat, repeat."
Oselladore read and wrote English, but learning to speak better English is one of his main goals for the year he is at Havelock High. With Sharonís accent from her native home in upper Michigan and Lonnieís Eastern North Carolina Southern brogue, heíll get broad American accented English on this trip.
"Speaking English is important for jobs, and when I go on holiday, I can speak English," he said.
Oselladore is finding the Hopkinsí hospitality and his international experience broadening other horizons as well, satisfying his hope "to meet a lot of people and share the experience of different traditions. I want to learn a lot about a different culture."
Oselladore is able to sit in a backyard swing and look out at the Neuse River.
"I donít have a river in front of my house in Italy," said Oselladore, who saw the ocean for the first time in his life on a recent trip to Emerald Isle. "And the houses are very different. We have lots of flats and apartments.
"I live in a big city so we donít have all this nature. We have parks and gardens, but itís different."
Oselladore is a music lover and, with Milan the home of opera, he heard it there with his father beginning at about age 12. He has played piano for six years and clarinet for two years, and began to sing at age 13 and takes private music lessons.
In the last month, heís gone to both the North Carolina Symphony and an opera. Sharon Hopkins said she enjoys watching someone listen to opera who actually knows the words since much of that genre is in "Guglieís" native tongue.
"We donít have music at school in Milan," he said last week. "We donít have school dances, homecoming and prom either. I am so excited we start homecoming this week."
School in Italy is different in other ways as well, he said. Students attend school for 13 years, and when they begin high school, choose between artistic, scientific and technical high schools. Classes, about like here, are from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. "but we have a lot of classes every day, 13 or 14."
He is in an art focused high school, which he hopes leads to a career in architecture. All core subjects are taught, and he additionally studies sketching, including figures, anatomy, and landscape, photography, and graphics, including computer graphics.
"School is easier here," said Oselladore, who characterizes himself as "a good student. I have just four classes. In Italy I have 14 and you have to study for each one. It is difficult."
Getting to school here is by bus but in Italy, he said, "We have a lot of public transportation. I donít have a car. You can go everywhere in Italy without a car. We have rail, undergrounds, buses, trams, and taxis." The trip takes about 30 minutes in Italy compared to 20 minutes here.
Oselladore keeps in touch with folks back home by way of the Internet, on social networks and Skype, and he said he talks with family and friends by phone once or twice a week even with the six-hour time difference.
He said he misses family, his parents, older brother and particularly his 8-year-old brother, but "I am making some new friends here."