Italian exchange student observes life on and off the court

For 11 months, Laura Grande gets to experience life as a student athlete in America


Josie Fitzpatrick

Italian exchange student Laura Grande surveying the court in a game against Blanchet.

Penelope Neireiter, Staff Reporter

This school year, Laura Grande has traveled all the way from Italy to experience the ins and outs of American life in general, along with joining the girls’ varsity basketball team. She shared that coming to America to be an exchange student is a dream for most students in Italy. That is why this experience is very important to her in many aspects of her life.

Grande started her senior year when she was 15 years old, but it doesn’t seem to be affecting her too much.

“For me, it’s normal because I am always younger than my classmates and friends in general. But here it’s something shocking. When I started my senior year at 15, everyone was asking [how]that was even possible. But I don’t mind, and I think it is nice,” Grande said.

Here in America,  students have school five days a week and go through a 6-period schedule, interacting with different people each day. That is not the case in Italy.

“In Italy we have school on Saturday, but here we do not. Also, we must stay in the same classroom the whole day with the same people, and we have the same classmates every year,” Grande said.

Grande has also noted that American basketball is completely different from the basketball in Italy.

“It’s much different, in Italy we don’t have sports in schools. So, if you want to play a sport you need to play in a club, and so the basketball season is all year round and not just three months or four months,” Grande said. 

She explained that during the school season at BHS they have practice and two to three games a week, but in Italy they have practice every day and a game every once and a while. Grande followed up by saying that she is very tired from the rigorous schedule compared to back home.

When Grande got to experience her first basketball game as an exchange student, she was ecstatic and intrigued by the atmosphere.

“We don’t have a band or cheerleaders in Italy, so I remember being excited during the first game when I saw them,” Grande said. “Also, when the people presented the starters before the game it was amazing and so exciting.”

Grande has been playing basketball since she was 5 years old, however the rules of the game are slightly different here, so she sometimes gets a little confused.

“During [one] game, I didn’t know the rules so there was a particular moment where it was difficult for me, but thanks to the other point guard,  I was fine,” Grande said.

With the support of her teammates, Grande has been able to learn a new form of the sport she loves. Grande is going to be living in America for 11 months, and is already settling into the many changes. She mentioned that her favorite things about America so far are the different cultures, and most of all making new friends and a lifetime of memories.