Learning a foreign language is a requirement for high school students in New York State, but how often do they actually get to use it? Well, it came in handy last spring for a dozen students from Union-Endicott and as YNN's Chris Whalen tells us, they're putting their linguistic skills to good use once again this month.
BROOME COUNTY, N.Y. -- Compared to the amount of time Sam Sylvester has been speaking English, his entire life, his Italian is relatively new.
"I've been learning it for four or five years, I think," Sylvester said.
His skills were put to the test last spring when he traveled with 11 of his classmates to Italy.
"When I got there, how it looks is how I expected, but it was a big culture shock because I'm used to English all the time and nobody spoke English, so that was a big change," Sylvester said.
Sylvester wasn't the only one who felt a bit out of place. Aurora Hollenbeck was a little surprised to discover how Italians lived their everyday lives.
"They walk everywhere and they eat healthier foods and they're schooling is different and their cars are different," Hollenbeck said.
Now it's their Italian peers' turn to experience life on the other side of the Atlantic. The 12 host students from Italy arrived in Broome County Wednesday as part of Union-Endicott's Italian Exchange Program and less than 24 hours later, they're already noticing some differences from home.
"People live in a big house with a lot of family and here, each family has its house and so it's very different. And the school is very different too because American schools are bigger than Italian schools," said Fabio Forrer, an Italian exchange student.
They'll live like Americans for the next three weeks and they say there is at least one thing they'll miss about home.
"I prefer Italian food, but American food, it's ok," Forrer said.
Luckily for these students, there are plenty of restaurants that have them covered.