Giovanna Malchiodi comes from Piacenza, near Milan in northern Italy. She is the leader of a group of 50, mainly 15 and 16 year old, Italian students currently studying at our School in Edinburgh. None of these students had ever been to Scotland, so I began our conversation by asking what they knew about our country before they travelled and then what their first impressions have been.
“We didn’t teach them a lot about Scotland before we came here. That’s because we prefer them to discover things when they arrive. For the more senior pupils, we did suggest they did a little research about the important museums and castles, but in general they came here without a lot of prior knowledge. However, like most people, they had the stereotypical view of Scots in kilts playing bagpipes – a bit like the School mascot!” (Giovanna is pictured with Scottie, our mascot, in the photo above).
“So far, the best things have been Edinburgh Castle and the Old Town in general. It’s very picturesque and interesting. They also love the shops!
“One of the key attractions of coming here was the chance to stay with host families. We were keen that our students didn’t stay in college accommodation as that would mean they would just speak to each other in Italian. The host families are so welcoming and very good at looking after the students. We rely on them to look after our young people and I’m very happy with the standards they set and the generous way they help the boys and girls get to know their country.
“As far as the School’s concerned, what’s pleasing to me is the way they are so open to changing the programme for us and coming up with new ideas and plans. The teachers are brilliant and I’d say this is a very high level school compared to most others. The visits, tours and morning classes are good – in fact the whole package is excellent.
“Finally, overall I have to say that this is a friendly city, and it’s a safe place to walk around too. The atmosphere, both in the school and out and about on the streets of Edinburgh is sociable and welcoming.”
Interview by Alastair Blair