By Jamie Corliss, F-1 High School Academic Administrative Assistant

Aspiring diplomat from Rome, Gaia, made an unusual choice when deciding on schools in the US. Though she feels a bond with New York City because of frequent childhood visits, a life-long love of country music and a quest for the “real American experience” led Gaia to Lipscomb Academy in Nashville, Tennessee. A few years ago, Gaia traveled to Nashville with her family where she fell in love with the Grand Ole Opry and the expansive backyards of the southern US.

When speaking to Gaia about her choice, she emphasized that she really wanted to experience the life of an ordinary American. She feels that places like NYC are a melting pot of cultures, while Southern culture is more distinct. When speaking about the way of life in Nashville, Gaia says,

“It’s not what you, you know, see in the movies. Like, people that go hunting. I would never think about people going hunting, but here I think everyone actually does!”

There are many things about the culture of Nashville that Gaia has come to love. She loves the sound of Southern accents and you can even hear a Tennessee twang intermingle with her slight Italian accent. Gaia regularly listens to Dolly Parton and enjoys Southern fried chicken and sweet tea, but she has especially come to appreciate the open-mindedness of people and the spirit of debate that is present in her community and school.

“Sometimes that happens that I have different opinions from other people and I’m not scared of saying my opinion so, I like places that are open to debate.”

On several occasions Gaia’s classes have engaged in discussion on controversial subjects such as gun control. In these situations, Gaia enjoys the productive discussion that results from everyone having the confidence to articulate their perspective.

Gaia has dedicated this last year to getting really familiar with American culture, but she still maintains a broad international perspective. After finishing her fifth year of high school in Italy (the Italian school system has one more year than US) she has big plans for her future as a global leader. Gaia’s plan is to return to the US for university where she will study political science or something similar and from there go on to pursue a career as a diplomat. She’s already done a lot of projects and study with the United Nations and the European Union and she says, “In fact, I’m thinking about maybe learning a new language in the next few years.” That’s on top of already speaking English, Italian, Latin, Greek, and some Spanish! Due to the curriculum at Lipscomb, Gaia didn’t spend much time studying political science this year, but she says, “Just being here and knowing about a culture is going to help me.”

Leaving Lipscomb and her new Nashville community will be sad for Gaia, but she is strengthened by the lessons she has learned during her experience and the exciting multicultural experience she has ahead of her. “It has been a great year,” she says. “Sometimes it was hard. But it’s life. Life is hard. You better learn how to manage it!”

Is there a US city you’ve always dreamed of living in? Apply for CCI Greenheart’s F-1 program to choose from excellent schools all around the country.