Giovanni Freni Sterrantino is one of EC’s Academic Year Student Ambassadors. From the time he arrived from Calabria, Italy, he struggled the most with pronunciation and conversation, but during our interview he seems confident and the conversation is fluid with little to no pauses. Although he admits “today was a good English day,” meaning some days he just wants to stay quiet and other days, such as these, he feels confident in his speaking abilities.
Giovanni chose San Diego because he had been to California before and was impressed by its beauty. “It is totally different here,” he said comparing Italy and California. We are sitting in an office with an ocean view, he gestures to the window and with wide eyes says, “The location in La Jolla is beautiful.” He visited 7 years ago and was drawn to the city’s upbeat people and lively lifestyle.
Although Giovanni learned the English basics in Italy, he did not feel it was helpful. “I am very happy to learn English in a totally different way because we didn’t study English this way in High School. We studied literature and it was not useful for my life.” Giovanni enjoys classes like English in the City where students can apply their knowledge outside of the classroom. He especially enjoys “Special Focus,” courses, such as Business English. Giovanni also stressed the importance of the quality of students and teachers alike. “The class mates are very important and the teacher is also important. How he/she teaches and controls the classroom makes a difference in keeping people interested.” At EC San Diego the average classroom size is 12 students and the maximum is 15 students, so it’s an intimate learning environment for both teacher and student. There is also a healthy mix of nationalities ranging from Saudi Arabian, Swiss, Brazilian, Japanese, Mexican and Korean. “Learning English in a different country helps you open your mind and helps you mature.”
Giovani started EC at the pre-intermediate level and, with the help of our free classes, such as Homework Club, AY Fun Club, Pronunciation Class and Conversation Class, he has moved up to upper-intermediate. “I find it very helpful to stay in the afternoon to use the resources the school gives us.” He was also recruited as a Student Ambassador for his outgoing personality and inclination to make friends easily. “Being a Student Ambassador helps people not be shy and do their best.” However, being a Student Ambassador, also has a benefit to new students. “It’s important to have some people you can go to if you have a problem. When we come here we all have the same problem.” He is referring to what some others may know as culture shock, which some students deal with. Making friends with a SA could help make the transition from your culture to a new culture easier, especially with other friends who can relate.”
Giovanni graduated from the Cambridge Course last month in in upper intermediate. “I liked the Cambridge course and the possibility to stay in the class with the same students and teacher.” Once a month, EC students volunteer at a local retirement home a few blocks from school, Casa Loma. “Casa Loma is a very interesting activity after school. It’s helpful in a multi-lateral way. It’s good for you to practice your English and it’s good for old people because they want to talk. It’s just something very good all around.”
Giovani also enjoyed the “Orange Carpet Experience,” which is EC’s Sunday Welcome Activity. “I enjoyed going to Jose’s with the school staff. The possibility to spend time with staff outside of class in real life is great. When you can speak with native people, you feel more confident.”
Giovanni will be returning to Italy in a few weeks after studying at EC San Diego for six months, but we certainly hope he comes back to visit.
Find out more about EC’s San Diego Homestay English courses