When teenager Francesco Rinaldi decided to come on a school exchange programme from Italy to Scotland he knew very little about the country.
Now, after spending a year living and studying in Kirkcaldy his knowledge of English has vastly improved and he feels at home in the town where he has made many friends.
Francesco (18), who comes from San Giovanni Rotondo in southern Italy and attends the Instituto Magistrale Maria Immacolata, has spent the last ten months on the first high school exchange trip run by My Education Scotland which organises programmes for students from all over the world.
As well as improving his English, he has been studying Latin, PE, Biology and maths, taking part in regular classes with his peers and taking exams alongside them at the end of term.
He told the Press: “For the first two months I struggled to understand things because my English wasn’t very good and people here don’t speak English, they speak Scottish, so the accent was also difficult to understand.
“I have made a good group of friends here and people are very friendly to me. I think we will stay friends in the future.”
During his time in the Lang Toun Francesco has lived with local woman Barbara Masson who agreed to act as a host for the programme and, alongside his studies, Francesco has had the chance to meet up and do some sightseeing with other students on the programme, most of who were living in and around Glasgow.
“I visited Edinburgh, and I have been to Glasgow a few times to visit other Italian students who were living there.
“I liked Glasgow a lot because it is a big city full of shops and lots of things to do, and with people from lots of different countries.”
Francesco decided to come to Scotland after his mum heard about the programme on a visit to his school.
“My mum thought it would be a good experience for me and would help me improve my English.
“I was curious about Scotland as I had never been here and I am glad I came. It’s very different from Italy in geography, food, culture and everything, and I will come back here again. I would encourage others to try it. It is not easy, but I have had a great time.”
Derek Allan, rector at KHS, said: “It has been good for Francesco and his new friends. He has learned from them and they have learned from him.”
My Education Scotland is still looking for families to host students. It has four students to place: two Italians and two Germans.
Anyone who would be willing to host a student for a year or who would like to find out more information about the exchange programme should visit: www.myeducationuk.co.uk.