Impressions of Meeker from a foreign exchange student | Rio Blanco Herald Times

Lea Knapp is an exchange student from South Tyrol, Italy.

MEEKER | Meeker remains relatively undiscovered so it’s always interesting to hear an outsider’s point of view about their impression of the community. At the high school this year we have two foreign exchange students; this week we’ll hear from Lea Knapp from Italy. 

Lea is staying with Blaine and Ann Franklin this year. Knapp is from a small village in northern Italy called South Tyrol. Tyrol, like Meeker, is surrounded by nature and is a popular destination for hiking, skiing and biking. The abundance of nature we have here makes her feel more at home in Meeker. Because of the placement of her village, Lea’s first language is German, but she also speaks Italian, English and French. 

With the holiday season coming up, it will be interesting to see what she thinks of our american holidays. In Italy they don’t celebrate Halloween or Thanksgiving and their Christmas is also a little different. Their most important holidays are Christian holidays like Christmas, Easter and All Saints. 

When she first came to Meeker she was very impressed. She said, “It was like I thought it would be. I really like the small town, with a lot of wildlife and nature around it.” For the time that she’s been here, she’s enjoyed the different culture and seeing the architecture here. 

As expected, the Italian and American cuisine are pretty different. Back in Italy they eat more pizza, potatoes and pasta rather than the primarily meat dishes we have here. Aside from family, Italian and Tyrolean food is what she misses most. 

It’s also interesting to hear how the Italian government handled the COVID-19 pandemic. Schools were the first to close when COVID-19 broke out and much like here they were under the impression that they would be able to go back after a couple of weeks. That obviously didn’t happen. Only people with necessary jobs got to go to work and you had to have a necessary reason to leave the house. Like most of the U.S. they got put into quarantine. Although theirs was much more enforced. They had soldiers and police officers in every town enforcing the stay at home order. After two months in quarantine they were able to leave the house without giving the officers a reason. 

Now in Italy things have slowly gone back to the new normal. Schools are open again and they participate in sports. They still wear masks when social distancing is not possible or inside of shops. 

Overall, Meeker has impressed Lea with its scenery and small town vibe. It’s been a little bit of a cultural shock and she certainly misses home. She says that she is more than happy with her decision and she looks forward to what is to come.

Special to the Herald Times


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