Italian dreams come true

SOUTHWICK – For Sadie Burnham, a junior at Southwick-Tolland-Granville Regional High School, a dream is about to come true.
The 17 year-old is heading to Italy in January as a foreign exchange student, a pursuit she began her first day of freshman year.
“I was on the bus my first day of school and met Tomaso, an exchange student from Italy, and the next day I started asking how I could be an exchange student,” recalled Burnham.
Her trip is more than two years in the making and it was hard work.
“It costs about $12,000,” Burnham said. “I worked at JJ’s ice-cream, at a summer camp and at Coward Farm and through family and friends I returned a lot of cans and bottles.”
After all that hard work, Burnham said she can’t believe she is just weeks away from her journey.
“It doesn’t seem real,” she said. “I don’t think it will be real until I’m there.”
Burnham, daughter of Cathy and Brian and sister of Christopher, has already “met” her host family via the Internet.
“We Skype all the time,” she said. “They have a daughter Edith who is my age and I will attend classes with her. I’m really excited.”
To prepare her for the language barrier, Burnham has been studying Italian through a Rosetta Stone program.
“I don’t speak enough, though,” she said.
Burnham had to choose her top three countries as part of the program and was lucky enough to have her first choice of Italy. Her second choice was Austria and her third was Portugal.
A history buff, Burnham cannot wait to see the architecture Italy has to offer.
“I can’t wait to be in the Italian culture, meet the people and see the historic buildings,” she said. “It’s such an old country.”
Burnham, who aspires to be an archaeologist, said she will live with her Italian family in Caggiano, Italy, from Jan. 27-July 7.
School in Italy will be a little different than what Burnham is used to.
“They go to school six days a week, but from 8:30 a.m. until 1 p.m.,” she said. “They do not have lunch at school, but go home and eat a big meal.”
Burnham said she would get a pass/fail grade for the semester.
“Because I’ve been planning for this since freshman year, I have been able to take the classes I need to graduate,” said Burnham.
Burnham will return to school in Southwick in the fall as a senior.

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