BRESCIA, Italy — Ive read that people who write about on Italy can be divided into two distinct categories.
Some are enchanted by Italy the beauty of the landscape, the elegant pitter-patter of the language, and by the peoples fervent passion and the overall romance of the place.
Others are decidedly disenchanted, unimpressed and frankly sort of annoyed with all the hype Italy receives for as countries go, Italy is surely one of the most talked-up and daydreamed-about.
The former category of writers has a tendency to be made up of American women and the latter of grumpy Englishmen.
I fall, true to stereotype I suppose, into the first category. Italy gets to me. It gets tangled in my hair and wrapped through my brain like a song stuck in my head and Im forever enchanted.
I love it even more for having lived here a year. Now, that Ive started living life in this country I cant let go of it, and I know Ill keep coming back. I am under Italys spell.
That isnt to say, however, that Im not aware that Italy has problems.
Its government is a mess. Italians know their countrys government has problems from debt to disorganization to corruption, but hardly anyone has any clear idea of the specifics of these problems, let alone any idea how to go about fixing them.
Most Italians Ive met dont have much more to say about their government than, I dont like it, or, I dont think it is working.
All of that aside, even, I dont think Id even want to live in Italy for all of my life, even given how beautiful and culture-packed it is. If I ever decide to get married, have kids and settle down, I know it cant be here.
The Italian school system is simply not up to par with those in the rest of the world. Maybe by the end of it, the students have the same level of educational foundation as their peers in the rest of the world, but they have to wade through some awful muddy waters to get to that point.
Any system where even the brightest students are jumping-up-and-down happy to be promoted to the next grade-level has something wrong. It isnt that it is too intense or difficult, its that the entire mode of operating, teaching and testing is behind the times.
Looking around a drab classroom as a teacher lectures and the students give themselves headaches memorizing material that theyll forget as soon as theyve passed their oral exam, its clear somethings wrong.
There are no computers, no supplementary activities or effort to ensure everyones understanding.
Teachers and students alike agree that something needs to change, but this is the way its been for years and nobody knows how to go about changing.
A country as creative and enthusiastic as Italy should not be in such a situation, but there they are.
I believe that Italy is a dreamy, dreamy place, but that doesnt mean that Im not capable of waking up from time to time to see the less-than-perfect reality of it.
It isnt fair to think of Italy as too-too perfect, as enchanting as it may be. But I think the flaws of Italy in a way make it even more lovely. It gives the place a sense of challenge, of something to overcome.
Italys whole story wasnt finished with history and the past. Its still going, still moving and still managing to fascinate.
That makes me love it even more.
Chandler West is a Rock Hill High School student who is spending her senior year in Italy. She writes about her adventures abroad each week in The Herald and heraldonline.com