Introduction by Sarah Tomlinson:

Marta came to us because her parents made her come! This sometimes happens with our students and we are used to helping teenagers go home with happy memories. I am so pleased to read about her memories although I do now feel a bit mean for always making her talk in English. Sorry Marta but it was (and is) good for you!

Marta and her sister Chiara were such lovely young women to watch growing up. Reading this letter and seeing the wonderful influence her host family had on her really is one of my favourite stories. It is such an important part of our student’s time here and we are very careful about choosing families. My mum always said she would never put a student where she wouldn’t put her own child. Now that it is my job to visit our families I have to say I feel exactly the same way! You can read more about how we choose our homes in Exeter here 

Thank you so much Marta for writing this story for our blog

This is Marta’s story:

I attended the Isca School of English in Exeter for 3 summers, in 2012, 2013 and 2014. It’s been a while now but, if I think about my time there, it seems like yesterday.

When I first came to Exeter I was a little upset my parents hadn’t let me enjoy a couple of weeks studying English in a college in London, with all my Italian classmates from school. I was very much looking forward to spending time in England, speaking only Italian.

But my parents didn’t like the idea! So, Exeter it was! My sister Chiara had been there twice before (and my mum before her!) and we asked to be paired in the same host family. My host-family is probably one of the most special things about my time at Isca. Barbara and Michael are caring and loving, they really want to make sure their students are happy and that they are making the best out of their time in England. Since I stayed with them all three times I studied at Isca, we got really close and very fond of each other. We text and email and keep in touch regularly, and I came back to visit them three times already.

At the Isca School, I was always challenged to make an effort and step out of my comfort zone.

I really enjoyed my classes there, especially when I got to the advanced level (shout out to Mr B!).

I never felt lonely at Isca. Even when my new friends were not around, I knew I could go and chat with Jo, Richard, Sarah, or any helper and teacher. The Tomlinsons would wait for us students in the garden of the school in the morning, with a smile on their face, welcoming us every day, asking how we were liking the family, if we were experiencing any sort of problem or anything else. I’ll always remember very fondly how Sarah would come to the table where we were having lunch and remind us it wasn’t the Isca School of Italian or Spanish, and we were supposed to try out best to speak English so that none would feel left out and especially because that was why we were there in the first place.

I really felt at home at Isca, and I’m not exaggerating when I say that Exeter is a place of the heart for me. At the Isca School, I met people who are now some of my closest friends. During my second time in Exeter, my host-family was hosting 4 students, other than me. Miriam, Ana, Katharina, Michael and I called each other “the Cain Team”, after our host-family, the Cains. The bond was so special we even planned our own trip to Edinburgh a couple of years later. Being able to live with people from different backgrounds was something I’ve loved very much!

When I finished high school, I decided to study foreign languages and went to study abroad again – to France, with the Erasmus project. I believe my very happy experience at the Isca School encouraged me to travel more and to really get to know other cultures.

And that’s why, after graduating, I chose to work as an au-pair in Dorking, Surrey, for a few months.

Right now I’m 24 and studying, still. After my degree in foreign languages, the understanding of the language and how it affects our forma mentis and our relations was still the main focus I wanted to investigate, and I decided to study Speech Therapy.

When I’m not studying, I earn a little money teaching English and French, and Italian too (to Erasmus students, for example). Languages and multiculturalism are two of my main passions, and I believe Isca was an essential/key moment for me to understand that and to get to know myself better.