Monday, December 27, 2010

Day to day stuff

I dont know. I'm bored.
ok so i just thought i'd fill you in on some stuff i do. like here in italy, basically my normal routine is

Monday:
Astronomy -5D
Latin - 4C
philosophy -4C
10 minute break(intervallo)
italian -4C
design -4C
design -4C

finish school at 1:50 in the afternoon

hang around the town and walk around until 5:30 when i have italian lessons
go home and chill

Tuesday:
english 4C
math 4C
physics 4C
italian 4C
chemistry 4C
latin 4C

Wednesday:
english 4C
religion 4C
history 4C
physics 3B
italian 4C
latin 4C
Thursday:
italian 4C
latin 4C
physics 4C
math 4C
chemistry 4C
astronomy 5A

Friday:
math 4C
math 4C
astronomy 5A
physics 3B
gym 4C
gym 4C

So yeah the things next to the subjects are my classes. 4C, means it is a year 4 class. and it is organized into the alphabet, so my class is C. same with 3B, they are in their 3rd year of high school. like junior year in america. and 5A, that doesnt exist. everyone is 18 by the time they graduate, or some are 19... they have 5 years of high school. sucks for them.. xD

Anyways
Saturday: Some saturdays I go to milan for the day. It's actually pretty normal for me to go to milan, whether it just be on my own, with italian friends, with excahnge student friends, or to meet friends there. I've met other exchange students from other regions there(its a big meeting area) and i've met up with one of my italian friends who lives in verona(east of the north italy) and so we met in the middle. I met her because she went on exchange to seattle last year. so that was pretty cool to get to see her :)
Some saturdays I go to novara(the main city of my province, my local chatper) and hangout with my aussie friend(only other excahnge student in my local chapter) and we go shopping or ice skating(only in the winter obviously) and i stay over the night in the city.

Sunday: most sunday mornings i just hang around the house. if anything, i slept over in novara and i stay in novara until mid afternoon sunday. So i go out to lunch with her and stuff.

Today was my first time in torino(other than the time we alll had to meet there for exchange student camp, but we didnt get to see anything or walk around) It was really nice! In my opinion it's better than Milan. I'm surprised i dont go there more often.. My location(borgo ticino) is right in between milan and torino. i dont know why i go only to milan... Ive actualyl gone quite a bit. maybe once every two weeks..


Random: these are two songs that are like the most popular songs in italy right now, at least for teens

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qrM0z3v3LUY

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uu_zwdmz0hE

Saturday, December 25, 2010

BUON NATALE! (Merry Christmas) and other updates..

So I realize I'm pretty bad at blogging. like yeah i blog. But there is so much more going on than what i just write here. So i dont really feel like I'm fullfilling the purpose of having a blog.. but whatever.

For the past few weeks, maybe the past month, its been snowing on off. Some days it will snow ALL day long. And other days (like the past week) it will just rain.

2 weeks ago my Columbian host sister arrived. She came with her mom and we showed them around the town of my school(borgomanero)

School got out wednesday. So thursday(the 23rd) was our first day of break. But for me, I decided to go with Maria(my columbian host sister) and her mom on their trip to venice and rome :)
I had been to venice and rome before. But I got to skip school, and go to some of my favorite places in italy. I went with them from Monday morning, where we took the train from Arona to Milan, Milan to Padova. Which is where we stayed. It's really close to Venice. Monday we went around in Padova.

Tuesday was Venice. Then we took a train at like 1 in the morning from padova to rome (it as really cheap and also meant we didnt have to stay in a hotel for that night xD ) I recommend not doing that... It was kind of scary. Scary people on that train..

Wednesday in Rome. Thursday out in Rome too, I got to meet up with one of my friends who lives near rome. She is Italian and went on exchange to seattle last year. That was really fun and cool to see her :)

Mappin out our trip

Vatican

Popes castle?

Colosseo

In Rome with Vale!


Piazza di Spagna(spanish steps) with vale and luca

Piazza di Spagna durante vacanze!!


Took the plane back (by myself. for the first time...) from rome to milan. My host sister and her mom booked different flights. I dont know why but yeah. I was really scared because my phone was low on battery and I had never taken a flight on my own. Ever. I was running around like an idiot then finally found an outlet behind an atm machine thingy. so i plugged it in leaning aganist the pole and everyone was walking by staring at me. it was great...

The next day, friay, christmas eve. Maria an her mom returned home. I went to the city(Novara) with Brittany(only other exchange student in my province) an the head of my local chapter. we talked and he gave us christmas presents and then brittany and i just walked around the town for a bit and shopped a little.

Saturday: Christmas day (Today)
3 things about Italian christmas
1. you say "Buon Natale"
2. santa claus is "Babbo Natale"
3. here(at least in the north) lunch is the main meal. so at that meal, you eat for like 4 hours..

Typical Italian christmas sweets(dolce) This is Panettone. There is also another cake thing called Pandoro

Christmas tree in Milan! Milan is really pretty curing Christmas time:)


Today i woke up late, at like 10(this is late for me here, but in america thats early for me..) The kids had already opened their presents. and i got a few small presents too which was really nice :)
and then we had to go to lunch at 12. we ate with all the relatives, and we ate until like 4. We ate a lot.... I feel so fat now. Lunch was like the whole festivity of the day. Eat eat eat. omg food... <3
So i dont think we are eating dinner. I just wanna die i feel so fat

Ill put pictures up from my trip to rome and venice.
I know there are other important things that have been happening lately, but i forgot, when i remember ill blog against.

Side notes:
-I've noticed you have to pay at restaurants(some) if you want to sit down. or if you just want a cappuccino and you want to sit. youb have to pay to sit. That doesnt happen in the states..
-also, it's apparently rude(in some places) to ask for the cost of something, so you just have to get the food then oay whatever it is after. Which is so stupid because what if you dont have a money, thats why you ask for the price in the first place..
-oh yeah, here in the north its really cold, you can always see your breath. and There are ice skating rinks outside everywhere. I went the other day with my australian friend(who had never seen ice or snow before) she was professional xD
-Got packages from family with loads of chinese food and top ramen :) I'm so happy. SOOO SOO HAPPY! I know italian food is great, but there is absolutly no diversity here. In seattle if i want i can go out to get chinese, thai, japanese, korean, morroccan, indian.. everything. here you might find one or two chinese and indian places. but they arent very common..
-Random people on the streets yell out "ni hao"(hello in chinese) to me. Im not sure if they are making fun of me, or if they are just excited to see a foreigner. because they arent very common in italy.. its not very diverse
-Its normal here for random people to honk or yell "bella!" out at you.

New years is coming up! I'm excited!

Friday, December 17, 2010

There was a holiday 12/8/10. Some Piemonte AFSers, Milano AFSers, and Bologna people met up in Milan :)





Some of us Piemonte AFSers. (From left to right: Chile, brazil, bolivia, america, canada, argentina)

Con Babbo Natale! (With Santa Claus!)

Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, America-Me, Brazil

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Exchange

Exchange wouldnt be exchange if you didnt have problems. You have problems, you get through them. Thats what makes you "mature" and "grow up" and become "independent". You learn to figure things out.
Exchange is one big emotional roller coaster. You've got massive highs and lows.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Manifestazione (11/17/10)

So I went to my first manifestazione on wednesday. it was coool!

Manifestazione: Like a massive protest about school things. That's basically what it is(Im not sure of the details because I really coulndt understand much.. xD ) Oh and it's always on a school day, because youre like protesting against school, so you skip school.

Went to the manifestazione in Milan with two of my friends, and we took the train there. In the metro station, we just got off the metro and there was like a swarm of students just chanting and screaming. It gets pretty wild(I heard that at the one in Torino, the trains stopped for a few hours because students were sitting on the tracks!!)

The manifestazione started in a big piazza. Everyone got around together(all students) and there was music playing. and chanting. and some people were like awkwardly dancing around..

There was like this vehicle, im not really sure what it was, like some sort of truck type thing. and that's where the main person was(a student who does all the talking and starts the chants etc) and thats where the music was playing. Since i went to a manifestazione in a big city, there were several of them. And basically you follow them around( with the music playing pretty much the whole time) and the people chant and so on. Here are some pics:

In the Piazza

Posters students put up everywhere. I was surprised a lot of their signs and psoters and banners were in english.. and Latin...



but yeah, it starts in the piazza, then the vehicles start moving around the city, and EVERYONE follows and chants. There are police around the city monitoring(though it is legal). Oh and it's pretty much impossible to get around the city on a day of manifestazione. In felt bad for the people who were trying to get somewhere in their cars.. you cant get anywhere, because theres so many people


I love manifestazioni (plurale). Smoke/fog everywhere. People jumping around. It's loud and full with music, and TONS of other people my age, im not sure ive ever seen that many people my age in one place at the same time before..

It's really fun!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

i just remembered..

on monday night november 8th. i had a dream in italian. well, where i was speaking in italian. but not all of it was in italian haha just thought id share. Its weird, becuase this is while i was in mexico.. surrounded by spanish. not italian... xD

this is a HUGE deal! it's so cool! It's like, italian is finally sinking into my brain, so that im dreaming in italian! where its a big enough, or an important enough aspect in my life, that im speaking it in my dreams. I'm like proud of myself for dreaming in italian after only 1.5 months!

Monday, November 22, 2010

scouts

forgot to say, before i left for mexico I had scouts. my first meeting of it! so far its going well, people are nice and It's another really good way to meet new people and make friends :)

Culture Differences

>Saturday night, for MOST is the ONLY night you can go out. (unlike me i dont have school on saturday, i'm one of the very few fortunate italians. i was told its like only 10% of all of italy that doesnt have school on saturday..) So the goal here on saturday nights is to go out, and party as hard as you can, as far as ive observed.

> In Italy there is not much diversity. All the food i have seen around is italian. you want to go out to dinner? you're pretty much gonna get pasta or pizza, just the same as the food you would get in your household, except, you dont have to cook it.
> Americans relate Italy to Ferraris and snazzy cars. Yes they are made here and stuff, but I honestly havent seen that many around. You see them in shops, but hardly out being driven. Italy has like 1/6(i think, i could be way off but i remember it has a lot of people for the countrys size) of americas population but the actual physical body of land of italy, is the size of california. This is why everyone in italy drives small cars. And partically why they are known for bad driving. Because there are too many people out there driving! and such small roads! Imagine driving in rush hour like all the time..

> It is very normal in italy to go out for a smoke break everytime you are given like a 5 minute break in school. or the moment you exit the school building, I see classmates lite up.

>Kids in ITaly arent very "independent" because the lifestyle is that they go to a universtiy near home and live at home. they dont have their own cars and they dont normally get jobs until after university.

>ok im not sure if this is just italy that does this. or Just america that doesnt do this. but in school, i notice that when someone has to blow their nose. they whip out a tissue(or handkerchief.. yes people still use them and thats something new to me) and blow their nose REALLY loud. in america you dont do that.. you get a tissue provided by the classroom, and you go in the corner and quietly blow your nose. or some people go to the bathroom..

>italian schools dont have extra curriculars. this is weird for me since in the states i was always busy with sports year round. just a different lifestyle i guess :P

>"homework" is optional. like they dont check it. They just do it to help you study and prepare for tests. i think in america for the most part, if something was optional, that means you dont do it. but people here like, actually do it..

>I dont know my teachers names, or most of them, because everyone calsl them "prof". Not like Mr/Mrs/Ms something..

>people whip out their umbrellas when its only sprinkling. It's really funny to me.

>People in italy walk around the house with slippers on, or shoes. some teens wear just socks. But almost everyone mostly wears slippers. I havent seen anyone walk around bare foot.. I used to do that all the time, but nope, not here

FOOD:
Yes i know food is part of the culture in general, but it deserves its own category, because Italy is famous for its food and its REALLY important!

> when they eat bread they leave it on the table. which is weird to me, but just part of the culture. possibly an all european thing? i dont know..

> ive been told food from the south and north of italy is VERY different. Well im not sure about the south,but i was told its lots of thick pastas and bread and stuff like that, and dinner is the main meal of the day there. But here in the north, the main meal of the day is lunch. so some people go home from work to eat lunch with their kids(one reason school gets out earlier i think..? schools get out from 1-2 for the most part) and then they go back to eat. Generally they eat a course of pasta, a course of meat, and a course of salad. and then there's fruit on the table after or something. and there is also always bread on the table.

> Nutella is really big in Italy. They sort of use it as a replacement for paenut butter i think. Italians dont really like peanut butter, so it isnt really sold here, nor is candy with peanut butter sold. like you cant find recess peanut butter candy.
If you are coming from america to Italy, you will not find:
-a large variation of gum(they mostly have only mint)
-peanut butter products
-bagels
-donuts
-pancakes
-salad dressings(they use salt on lots of things as  a replacement. on salads and meat etc. the replacement for dressing is salt and oil/vinegar)
-waffles
-oreos
-maple syrup(i think, i havent seen it)
-hamburgers
-krispie treats
-smores
-mashed potatoes
Point is, Nutella is big here, and you will probably eat it like practically everyday.

oh, since lunch is the main meal here, people go home to eat lunch together as a family. This means all the restaurants close. It's really weird. like in the states the restaurants are like open all the time. It doesnt matter if its "family time" they are open for business. They just care about making money.

Monday, November 15, 2010

In need of a Post

Update: I am currently away in mexico with my host family, as we are attending a wedding here. Its sort of ruining/confusing me with my italian, but i think ill get back on track when i return to Italy.

Still not really in culture shock(haha doesnt help that i am in mexico). Not sure if thats a good or bad thing. I kind of want to expereince it, but other exchange students i know who have gone on exchange in the past told me it made them depressed. I dont know. But for me its all gooooood

Friday, October 22, 2010

New scheduel. Stuff. Camp. yeahhhh

Havent updated for awhile. again.. haha

SCHOOL: has been going well, they just recently changed my scheduel this tuesday, so that my classes are customized to me. being an exchange student, who is trying to recieve credit, i need to have a personalized scheduel. School in italy is very very differnt(read a post below)staying in one class all day with the same group of people. the teachers go in and out. and they have a curriculum set for you. but more than half of the subjects are things i dont need to study! like religion, philosophy, latin, italian, etc. and I need more science classes. So NOW I have one class with a year 3 class, and one class with a year 5 class. the rest of my classes are with my main class, a year 4 people. It's really fun and really nice to be able to get to meet all these people of all different ages! But then it's also really confusing, because random people will come up to me and say hello. and i dont know who they are. they probably are someone i know and have met, but i cant remember everyones faces and names!!! i feel bad.. haha but give me time and i think i'll get it. though it took me like a whole month to learn everyone in my own class' names..

my class recently went to milan to go to the theater to see a play. I was bored because i couldnt really understand much(it was also in old italian, like its not used anymore.. apparently) but i understood some things! I was really excited

My school(on monday) had an assembly. It was very different from assemblies in the states. in the states its informational, and entertaining. here it was very boring, and boring, and very very boring. Thats all. At least for me. proabbly because i couldnt understand anything. But I beleive they talked about the manifestazione in milano. and they also talked about elections, and school trips. Even though it was boring, at least we got to not have class for 2 hours :)

This friday(today) we had the elections, where we voted for who would represent our class. And they gave us 2 hours to do it. I thought that was really stupid, because it really only took 15 minutes, 30 minutes at most. and we spent the rest of the tiem sitting, hanging out in the classroom. We were not allowed to leave. And we didnt do much. though it was fun to hangout with my classmates. I just thought it was stupid that they gave us 2 hours to vote...

ITALIAN: has been improving. I can now say some full(but basic) sentences on my own. and i understand basic words out of every sentence. Italian classes have been going well. I have italian homework and everything. it's 2 hours each class, 3 times a week. lunadi, giovedi, e venerdi(monday, thursday, and friday)

by the way I missed 2 of my italian classes due to AFS camp...

AFS CAMP(october 14-17)

I did not go to school on thursday. I did not go to school on friday. I also skipped italian class on both of those days :P
I first had to take the train from my village, the the main city of my local chapter, Novara. there i met with 3 other AFSers and we took the train together to torino, the main city of the piemont region.(Italy is divided into regiones, and within each regione there are provinces. my province in novara.)

So In torino at the train station all AFS students met. Except for Ivrea students. We took a bus and picked them up on our way to the place we were staying at. It was like a 2 hour drive up in the mountains in the middle of no where. no city. and it was so foggy you couldnt see. but at the same time it was kind of pretty. It was really high up though! like when we drove down after our ears popped..

The first thing we did when we got there, was get our rooms, put our stuff away, and go down for snacks and just to hangout.
Then we had introduction, where we talked about rules and stuff. and they broke us off into groups, 4 groups(our name tags were color coded, red, blue, orange and green, i think..)
in our groups we talked about school. We made charts on what we liked about school. what was different( i think, i sort of forgot) and what our problems were.
after we had dinner and all hung out together for while. we didnt do much, but just being with a group of people your age, like you, experiencing what you are experiencing, going through the same troubles and difficulties as you, and just being in a new place like you, It's just so fun just to be with them!
Then we all got together in one room, and started to play games. some of the games were really weird. like one, was where we had to have one person sit in the middle. and the goal was to kiss them on the cheeck(two people would be called to the middle) without being kissed on the cheek by the other person in the middle first. It was really weird. and I never quite understood it..
Then we all went to bed

Day 2:
we had breakfast, and then split off into our groups again. but this day we talked about problems. all problems. host family problems. There was a whole list, and we had to go through each one and it took a REALLLLYYY long time. as far as i am aware, 2 people are switching/switched host families.
then we had lunch. then went back to our groups and played more games(LOTS of random games)
in the evening had dinner, then played more games. we did the human knot. and we also played a game where we split into two groups, and had a blanket. the blanket was held up, so that two peple could side on both sides of it, without being able to see each other. then they would drop the blanket and we had to gues eachothers names, whoever said their name first won. It was difficult becuase there were soooo many people and sometimes there were instances when both people didnt know eachothers names. so they just say there saying "uhhh" literally..

Day 3:
We went on a hike in the mountains, and got chestnuts. we came back to where our place was at and roasted them and just talked and hung out. overall camp was pretty chill. throughout the 3rd day we also had private interviews. AFS asked us things like about our families, our school. how we like our overall placement. how good of a job we think AFS is doing. (oh my bad, in italy they call it intercultura)
If you have a problem, they have you work it out. they are ALWAYS there for you.This day we also did an activity, where for each person who represented a different country there(people in the piemonte regione: thai, chinese, bolivian, canadian, australia, japanese, german, belgian, finnish, greenlandic, icelandic etc)we had a poster with the country's name on it. then we had to pass each poster around and everyone had to write at least one thing they thought about the country. whether it be as terotype, or just a thought about the country. at the end the person/people who represnted that country had to get up and talk about their country. talking about whether or not things that were written were true. it was actually really interesting! below is a couple pictures.

Japan

Australia
sorry only took pictures of a few.
this night we had really good food. pizzaaaa!!!
after dinner everyone hung out in the main room together, because the next day we would be leaving each other. this is one big group picture we took. i dont think everyone is in it though.. because there were about 50 of us there.


Represented here:Chile, Brazil, Russia, Argentina, Finland, Bolivia, Belgium, Turkey, America, Canada(and others who arent in the picture..Iàm in the green jacket)

day 4:
More interviews, lots of free time. Hung out with each other, went in each others rooms and just listened to music. and talked. breakfast there btw, was ALWAYS the same. lunch this day was really good. we got lasagne and then tiramisu. soooo good. i was in heaven.
after we got out bags, and went home.. we all took the bus back to torino. and from there we all went our own ways.
i went with 3 other girls on the train to novara. one got off the stop before ours. then the 3 of us went to novara, and we had aperitivo(not something they have in the states, so i dont know what it is called, but its like an appetizer.) We went into the city and all had pizza together :) it was delicious! but then we had to go back to our host families and there in novara we said goodbye

All the exchange students talked about how they gained weight. All the boys lost weight, and all the girls have gained about 2 kilos each already. wow... I'm too scared to weigh myself...
You dont even understand, the food here is soooooooo good. It needs to stop being so good. i cant resist myself. and it is getting us all fat! at camp we shared stories about people we knew who went on exchange. one girl said she had a friend who went on exchange and gained 30 kilos... :O that is insane. i hope i dont get like that.. It's very difficult for me. because i honestly think food is one of my best friends. AND back home in seattle i waas always doing sports, here i do nothing. So i am actually scared. I talked to a lot of other people and they said gaining weight is actually one of their biggest concerns. It's a serious matter!

Now it is the weekend. and Tomorrow I will go to the city and meet friends there. I love going to the city :)
I'll update more later.
On October 28th we are leaving for NY, then to mexico. My host family has a wedding to attend there. and It is sort of a vacation because i think they find it pointless to travel that far just to go for a day or two.
Though I'm kind of bummed to miss halloween here, because apparently there are HUGEE parties and I am missing a manifestazione in milano(students go to big cities and start protests), but its ok. Because I'm going to Mexico! And there are going to be other manifestazione things.

I am excited to return to the states, I want to buy lots and lots of gum! and i am going to eat lots and lots of chinese food! and hot dogs from the street corners. haha I'm so excited. Ive been to NY before, but only for oreintation. I have never actually seen it. So this will be fun!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Pictures

This is the chalkboard in my classroom.. I think its really funny. In america we just have plain white boards. you dont paint your classroom, and definitly not a simpsons character. i think that might be considered inappropriate. but here i think its funny

The chuch in the village where i live

Me with a ferrari in Torino at the factory

Me and one of my host sisters, Sofia at the festival in the small village near france

novara, walking around in the city








Friday, October 8, 2010

I know i blog too much. but before i forget..

llRandom events:
>The other day i went to a chiense restaurant. It was soooo gooood to have chinese food again. I LOVE Italian food. but i missed chinese food.
> went to Torino. my host dad had business there, he had to deliver something. we went to a factory where ferraris are designed, so i got to see a bunch of models, uncluding prototypes. It was awesome!

> I've realized recently, that if you have blue eyes, and come to Italy. Italians will love you, and swarm all around you. two of my friends who are also exchange students have blue eyes, and they are constantly being followed. I on the other hand.. not so much. not sure if thats a good or bad thing. they are making a LOT of friends, but they are annoyed sometimes a little.

>the other weekend in Novara I witnessed a car crash. Yes you've probably heard many stories of how italians are famous for bad driving. i think in the north it is MUCh better in the south. but that is just my opinion. Never in my life have i ever been there for a car accident. i think in my whole life ive probably seen 3-5 car accidents, i it was just me driving by them. i wasnt there when it happened. But this one, I didnt actually see it, because i was in the car. but i heard it. it was sooo loud! I hear a car screeeeech and then a huge crash. everyone got out of their cars(this was in the piazza). EVERYONe was running towards the accident. my host dad had gotten out of the car to see, but i stayed in because he left the keys in the car, and for some reason i was just terrified that if i left the car someone would take it(though no one probably would since everyone was focused on the accident) After he got back in the car we drove around the piazza to get out. we drove by the accident and one car was trying to drive straight past the piazza, as another was turning left into the piazza, but turned into the car that was going straight. make sense?

> many car accidents here, but the driving is much better and controlled than in the south(when i went to rome)

>my italy handbook told me about walking around with wet hair. hows its socially unacceptabloe apparently. how you cant walk around the house in barefoot or just socks, must always be slippers or shoes. but its not true. at least in my case. i talked to one of my friends(yes i know youre reading this.. fabio haha )and he said it is mostly traditional or older people. he laughed when i told him about this stuff. for him this isnt the case, for my friends it isnt the case, for me it isnt the case. i walk around with wet hair and just socks around the house. its too cold to walk around barefoot, because floors here arent carpeted.

> I think ive already mentioned this before, but you have to pay to drive on the highways here. It's so weird. because in america you dont. My host dad told me it is because the highways were not built by the government. It's just so weird because everyday you might have to drive somewhere that really isnt that far, but the speed  limit is low(its not a highway) so it takes longer. but back home, the highways are everywhere, and you could go frmo one place to another in like 5-15 minutes. here it might take half an hour or so. as i mentioned before, it is completly normal to travel half an hour or so or even more just to go to school everyday
Here since you have top pay to go on the highway, it seems like you have to make driving on it worth it(since its expensive) so you would drive on the highway for hours. also, there arent many people on the highway, and there arent many exits, only to major major cities for the most part, like milano and torino. and the highways are like in the middle of no where, last weekend when we went to a small village near france, we drove side by side to the train. it was cooool

> Last weekend i slept over at a friends house who lives in the city. We went to a birthday party, and then a small concert. Italian music(it was rap) is kind of good but weird :P I also went to a small village near france. my host family has family friends who live in that village. the village celebrated trade(its so close to france, it uised to be a major trading center esp. since there used to not be tax on trade) so there was a festival. It was really cute there were cowbells everywhere and all sorts of goods and examples of items that would have been traded back then. they were just out on the streets for show.
(small villages in italy apparently celebrate almost everything, just for the sake of celebrating and having a festival) according to my host mom :P

> my host brother has D&G shoes.. I think thats awesome but strange. he's 8 haha, not sure if thats normal.

> Here, I've learned to accept the food that is giv en to me. by all means im not given random strange food, but just different kinds of what i would usually eat. for instance, i eat cheese, but normally just cheddar on a sandwich, or cheese on pizza etc. But here theres cheese all the time everywhere, and normally i would question what kind it is and everything. But ive just accepted that it is cheese, and thats all. so i eat it. same goes with meat. I used to eat only chicken, and pork and beef. nothing else. but here i'm given all kinds of salami(which i never used to eat before) and bruschetta( i think thats what its called, but the italian ham, which in the states i didnt eat) but here i do. ITs just weird. i dont question it anymore. (mommy you will be very happy about this news for when i get back, knowing im such a picky eater)

>I've noticed that scarves(scerpa, i think..) are VERY in here. many people wear them at school. and they are sold EVERYWHERE

> though i had chinese food fairly recently , i still kind of miss it. but its ok cuz food here is really good. i dont know why its such a big deal. i guess food is a REALLy important aspect of my life. i think it might be my best friend.. I made a list at school when i was bored of the food i miss. i think its just chinese food, bubble tea, and micdonalds. mccdonalds is much better in america. and i miss food my mommy cooks. food here is AMAZING! but i just miss that food too :\

>So lately Ive been hanging out with this girl named Brittany( i know youre reading this too, be happy im mentioning your name lol) she is also an AFSer and she is the only other one who lives in my province. ITaly is divided into regiones, and within the regions, into provinces. She lives in the city and i live in a small village about 40 minutes away. but almost everyweekend since weve been here weve hung out. Its really fun having someone there with you, also having the same experiences as you! and it is really nice for me since we have a lot in common, we get along well, and she is from australia so she speaks english well haha

>NOTE TO FUTURE EXCHANGE STUDENTS: We all have to make adjustements. Thats why you went on exchange, to experience something new and different. Of course you have to be comfortable with the differences, but you cant live somewhere where everything is sooo similar to your actualy home that there is practically no difference. why would you go on exchange? Let me explain the main difference i have adjusted to:

SCHOOL: i think school for me is the biggest difference. aside from the language
1. School here is like elementary school in the states You have one class, and you stay with them all day all year. you have all your classes with them
2. Teachers come in and out for each subject. You do not get break, only 10 minutes halfway throughout the day(we have 6 classes a day, so after 3). and sometimes if you are lucky the teachers come late, then you have break.
3. There is this really really weird thing called PNI or PNE, im not quite sure. and Its like advanced math. and the class splits up into two different groups for math class. I dont understand it..
4. There are no subsitute teachers here, if a teacher doesnt come, it's free hour.
5. Im not sure if this is all schools, but my school is one building. and in it there is another school. on the bottom floor. In the states one building is one school. Its strange to me that its divided into two.
6. during the 10 minute break they serve pizza and sandwiches which cost 1 euro, this is lunch.
7. schools scheduels are inconsistent and confusing
8. i find my hardest subject to be art. I have to draw something given to me in perfect proportionn and we have to measure everything(artbeing my hardest subject is really sad..)
9. getting a 6 out of 10 or above is considered good. It is very rare to get 9 or 10.
10. The other day i met with my tutors, they are helping me with recieving credits
11. I talked with my english teacher, she told me all my teachers and her are meeting to discuss what to do with me. as in what classes i should be in. They might possibly move me around to other classes for other subjects. just because i am further ahead than my main class in some subjects. I am really excited for this! not becuase i want to leave my class, i really like them, but i want to meet other people. i think itll be interesting and fun! I am told I will be given a new class schedule next week, or the week after. and I'm reallly excited to meet new people! I might get put in some 3rd year classes, and some 5th year classes! so ill get to know everyone of all ages!
12. There are specific scholls, top study specific things. there is technical, which is supposed to be an easier kind of school, where you study carears. I met a girl today who also live in borgo ticino(met her after we got off the train, also a good way to meet people who live near you) and she studies hairdressing... for Liceo(is the most difficult kind of school) there are many kinds. artistico, linguistico, classico, scentifico. I go to sceintifico. there are other kinds too of course. i just dont remember
13. gym here is sort of a joke. And also its weird that they dont have their own track field, Its like the community track and we have to walk and go off campus to get to it. gym is really chill here becasue if you dont come to class changed, then you just sit on the side and no one cares.
MANY OTHER DIFFERENCES> WILL ADD LATER BUT I CANT THINK OF OTHERS NOW> ILL ADD LATER IM GOING TO BED

Today: I skipped school to go to the city to get my living permit. It took awhile.. we had to get our fingerprints done and everything. then went into the city with brittany and went ot lunch and shopped a bit. went home at the time school in novara got out(2) by train, and the train was FLOODING with students. I didnt even know that many people from out of novara went to school in novara. i mean i knew people did, but just, not THAT many people. I mean, It's different, or i thought school int he city would be differnet. that becuase it was a city, most people who go to school there would live ther.e but i guess i was wrong. on the train there were so many people I had no where to sit. I had to stand. I got a bit confused on the stops and had to ask to make sure i was getting on the right train. and when i asked if they spoke english, they all became fascinted by me. It seems the train is a great place to make new friends :) haha if you go at the right time at least. when i go in the morning no one is on it.

When i went ot lunch in the city, i was talking to brittany in english. and the waiter came up to us and asked us if we were russian. i was so confused. 1. neither of us look russian. and 2, we were speaking english. it was reallyweird and random
over all good past few days

Sorry my posts are always random and unoraganized. I njust type what comes to mind before i forget.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

No title(im not creative)

WHAT'S GOING ON:
9/26/10
Lots to talk about! i know it's only been a few days since the last post, but lots has happened!
i forgot if i already wrote about this,(too lazy to check)  a ghiro(dormouse) fell from a hole in our ceilling(from a hole where a light is supposed to be, not just a rando hole) and fell onto my host dads head. we are now keeping it as a pet.. everyday we feed it and my host siblings fight over who gets to hold it. it's really quite entertaining :P i think ill get a picture of it later onto my blog.

Yesterday i went shopping in novara. It was really fun! im not sure if its just me, but i feel like things in novara are really cheap. i got these really nice boots for like 20 euros.. what?!?
we then met up with a group of friends and went to a pizzeria for dinner together in the city, after we all went back to the center of the city and hung out. i dont know.. we didnt do much, but it was just fun to be out in the city in the night with a bunch of people in italy!

Then today i went to a family reunion event. It was in lombardia, 2 hours car drive away. we got there and there were like 70-80 peopel there. it was crowded! we first went to the place that my host moms uncle was born. because i think the whole event was in honor of him(he passed away a little while ago) and he was famous. so there was a mini ceremony(in which i didnt understand) about him. after we all went to the restaurant and ate. we ate for 3-4 hours.....at events like these, there is lots of kissing(cheeks). LOTS!

9/28/10
The last few days in school, today, and yesterday, and a few days from last week, ive been pulled out of class to talk with my tutors, and intercultura to talk about classes and credits. everything. im going to follow math, chemistry, physics, english, and art. the one really frustraing thing though, is that ive already studied everything they are studying in chemistry and math. but im getting bad marks because of the language barrier... its annoying. esp in chemistry since i studied all the elements, but in english. they have different names in italian obviously so i have to study again.. 
books are also annoying, because here in italy, you buy your own books. but you buy them for all of high school, you use them throughout all of high school. they continue studying the same subjects throughout the years. and use the same books, so they are expensive! So im not sure what im gonna do. one of my tutors said they might be able to get my used old books. because they are cheaper. but for now, ive been living off my classmates books and photcopying EVERYTHING.

Oh yeah, one sad thing, the ghiro died.. it randomly died, and we have no idea why :(

9/29/10
I started my italian lessons on monday(today is wednesday) and it's fine i guess. I got lucky, i think there are only two teachers. and i got the one who speaks english. so that helps!
But so far ive only had my first lesson, and it was the basics, i already knew everything he was teaching.. so we'll see tomorrow!


FRUSTRATIONS:
>language. ovbiously. my classmates speak english fairly well. but it's just like, i have to say "cosa" or "what" an unaccountable times a day. they have to explain to me everything. and the lectures and just hearing everyone speak it, It's interesting, and helps me learn. but by the end of the day I am EXHAUSTED! almost everday i come home and take a nap..
>credits/school stuff
>ONE thing that bothers me, is that I'm trying sooo hard to learn italian. but when i went out into the city the other day, i kept trying to talk to people in italian. it clearly failled which upset me. i could tell when i would say soemthing, and my italian is just clearly so bad, people just began speaking to me in english because of my accent or i just make no sense at all or something.. :P
> I dont just go by Rachael here. A lot of people try to call me by my actual name, but it sounds really weird. Only SOME people can actually say it the way it is said in america. Many people here call me Rashell, with the R being pronounced rolling your tongue. and some others call me rachelle, which is my name in italian. like, rack-el-lay, and you roll your tongue on the R. I like my italian name, and i like my name when people say Rashell. But its confusing when im being called like 4 different things..
I've decided I'm in love with Italy. It's so pretty! I love the cities, and even the small villages. It'sd perfect here! m=Maybe I'll attend university here, that'd be awesome. And It would work since by the end of this year, hopefully ill be able to speak it fluently :)

first 2 weeks in Italy :)

Ok so it's been about 3 weeks away from home, and 2 weeks into school. Things with the family have been going really well. There's always someone around to talk to or do something with :)

1. my classmates are really nice, things seem to be going well and they help me with practically EVERYTHING! i must seem so stupid to them.. i understand practically nothing..
2. food here is amazing. (though i miss chinese food) and the other day i had my first hot chocolate here(peidmont is famous for its chocolate) and it was absolutly amazing, so good!
3. I'm concerned im going to get fat.
4. school here is very strange(compared to the states). I have 11 classes(latin, italian, english, philosophy, history, chemistry, physics, gym, art, religion and math) wow! and the scheduels are different like everyday.. i dont get it. and in english we are tested everyday. i mostly just pay attention in english and math and chemistry and participate in art and gym, the rest i listen to them lecture and doodle. before this year i was never a doodle kind of person.. but now...
5. I hardly have any homework. not sure if its just cuz im an exchange student, but still, i havent found other students to have much homework either. but we'll see, im sure  it'll get harder later.
6. today i met with my tutors( i have 3) to talk about my classes, what classes will help me and which ones i should actually get marks/grades for. (english, physics, chemsistry, art, math)
7. today i was supposed to have my first italian lesson, but apparently it starts on monday. so we went all the way there for nothing pretty much.
8. my first weekend here we drove to france and went to aventure parc. It's like a giant obstacle course, or a challenge course to the extreme! it's up in trees and it took hours to finish! it was awesome!
9. i've been sick and coughing the entire time ive been in italy(including in rome at orientation, except the first night) since my roomate in rome got my sick :P
10. tomorrow i have plans to hangout with my fellow italian friends! for the first time :) haha, so lame but it actually matters because, being an exchange student i expected to be a loner for at least the first month, or two or three... friends are really really important to me! so is a social life!
11.tomorrow in school we are going to the cinema to watch a film.. on something i do not know.

what else..?
what else..?
what else..?

sorry this is really unorganized, just typing random things that have happened or things that are strange to me and how things are going.. random things flowing through my mind right now. I'll probably add more soon later.

12. oh yeah, here it is completly normal to drive like 10minutes-even possibly an hour just to go to school or work. for me i drive about half an hour. this is very strange to me..
13. here, it seems i never stop eating and it's a really big problem.. im probably going to start running soon.
14. the tv is ALWAYS on in my house. (the italy guidebook afs sent me told me to expect the tv to be on during dinner)
15. the handbook also told me that people question your health if you walk around with wet hair, and that your host parents will get mad at you. Ive come to school with wet hair twice and explained i woke up late, no one cared. they laughed
16. the handbook also talks about the bide, but it never said what it was for. I've learned it is to wash your butt or your feet. my little host sister(i suppose since she is short) uses it to wash her hands as well

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

first few days

Yesterday was my first day of school. I was absolutely terrified. But I walked in, and everyone stared, that part didn’t bother me, its just what they thought of me that bothered me. I sat down next to a boy named marco. A girl next to him named alice spoke fairly good English and she introduced herself and everyone around her. They are all so nice! First class was math, and I just took notes. 2nd was latin, the teacher came in, we stood up and greeted her(buongiorno). In latin, the teacher made each student present themselves to me, so each student told me their names, what they did over the summer, where they live, and what their hobbies are(where they live.. not like in the states where you all go to the same school if you live in the area. In italy you go to the school that focus’ on what you want to study, does not matter how far it is from your house. Here in italy my school is 25 minutes away by car…)

Before 3rd hour we had a ten minute break, where I followed alice around like a puppy dog, she is so nice and is the only one who speaks english well. Then 3rd hour came, which was english, and the techer made each one present themselves to me in english. Which took the whole hour since thy had to do it in english.. haha 4th hour was gym, the teacher came in and we just sat around and hung out, it was stupid. After school I went home for lunch, hung around the house, then went to go buy a phone. Came home and had dinner.

Today I woke up, went to school. 1st hour we had latin. I didn’t understand anything, and latin isn’t important for me so its not supposed to matter.. so I just doodled. 2nd hour was english, where we had a pop quiz on the homework from the prior night. And then we talked about shakespeare and sonnets. Then it was break. Then 3rd hour was philosophy.. I think… or physics. Not sure, but I didn’t understand, and she didn’t write on the board(normally whats written on the board helps me understand whats happening). Though when I listen to people talk it helps me, my Italian is improving every day, little by little.
4th hour was gym. We went to the gym, changed, and we “ran around the school” but we all walked. And we “played volleyball” but we took a ball and hit it around in a group circle..
I got out of school, got picked up, picked up my brother(oh yeah.. I got sick in rome, so I came to borgo ticino sick.. and got my host sister sick, so she missed school today) we also picked up two children who are friends of my host brother and sister. They came over to play for awhile. Then my host mom and I went out to novara to meet the other girl in my local chapter, and also to meet other afs coorderinators. First we went to the post office to take care of my forms for my living permit.. or student permit, I honesrtly don’t even know what it is..
Then we went to a bar and met up with Brittany, other volunteers and brittanys host parents. It was really nice to get to hangout with someone who also speaks english as their native language. Brittany and I walked around the city for a bit, she showed me her school and where she went shopping today. She and I talked about our experiences so far and how things are going for us. We made plans to hang out in two weeks!

My host mom and I left, and we got lost, for like an hour. Street signs in italy are confusing and stupid! I hate them.. we drove in circles for at least a half hour.. then we got home maybe an hour or so later than we expected and my host father had prepared dinner. We ate a late dinner, and watched tv. Since it was so late, they pretty much went to bed right after. So they are asleep now, and I am here.. ciaoooo. Buona notte(bye. good night)

Journey to Italy

Kali and I at her fams house in New Jersey before going to the Orientation in New York
So less than 24 hours ago I left my home in Seattle. I woke up at 4am, and brought my bags downstairs. And changed and got everything ready to go. I said goodbye to my little puppy Milo, and my brother(couldnt come to the airport, he had school) My mom and loaded my bags into the car, and off we went to SeaTac airport. We parked, and checked my bags in. We met Kali and her family there( I am staying with her family in New Jersey). It was really funny, she had to unload a lot of stuff from her bag.. :P

My mom followed us all the way to security, and that's where i had to say goodbye to her. Neither of us cried, but we just kept telling each other how much we love each other. I'm going to miss her so much

I got through security, after having being pulled aside like 3 times. Once for my laptop, i had to take that out. another for my liquids, and then another for having my giant tube of yummy smelling lotion, i had to throw it out :(

Immediatly after i got through security i texted my mom telling her i made it through. I went and got breakfast, starbucks, fruit cup, and breakfast burrito. we got onto the plane, and i ate, then slept. then we got off in minneapolis, and had about an hour layover. then we headed back onto another plane, which took us to new jersey. we got picked up and taken to kalis familys house. It's really nice here! before today i had never been on the east coast before, and i really like it!

We were welcomed, and the first thing we did was eat! we had a lot of good food, pasta, salad, etc. the thing is though, that my eating scheduel is messed up. i ate breakfast at like 6am. and had no lunch, and then ate dinner here at 5(seattle time i think, or around that time) but now its 10(seattle time) and im starving. i just dug through my carry on and i am so happy i brought candy bars haha

Ive mostly been on skype tonight, and we all sat around in their living room and we watched little miss sunshine, it was cute. haha I love it here, except for the fact that its hot.. i hate the heat.

Ok well just thought id update you
I'm lying here now on a blow up mattress on the floor right next to kali, and she is already asleep, i think that means i should be sleeping too.. we have a huge day ahead of us tomorrow!

LATER:
The next da Kali and I went off to the hotel. When we got there, there were only about 20 of us, so while we waited for everyone else we played mafia. When everyone got there, we had some orientation. To me it was just information I already knew, so it was pretty boring. At the orientation there were also kids going to Ghana, and Portugal, but there was only like 5 for each. On the other hand there was 59 going to Italy. That night curfew was 10:30, but until that time we all hung out in each others rooms and people who brought their guitars played music and sang. After 10:30 we all had to be in our rooms and it was suggested we go to bed around that time so we can get up in the morning. But my roommate and I got along really well and we talked for a long time..
The next morning we all got up and had more orientation, and then we left the hotel at around 4pm. We headed off to the airport, once we passed through security (which took a long time) we went to the terminal and we were each given $10 for dinner. We all went off on our own and most people got pizza, which was just stupid to me since we are going to Italy, there will be plenty pizza there.

We boarded the plane, and the flight was long and boring. Then we had our connection flight which was also boring. Throughout this time I only slept 2 hours. We got to the airport in Rome, and got our luggage, then walked through the doors and afs intercultura welcomed us. We boarded buses, and the bus ride was about 2.5 hours long. I slept on the bus (2 more hours) and when we got off the bus, a group of maybe 5 people jumped on me. I was so confused, but then I looked down at their name tags and realized who they were, they were people I had been talking to on facebook! Haha it was so weird. Anyways, we didn’t really do much the first day since everyone was arriving at different times. It just cool to be surrounded by people from around the world, and it was awesome because everyone was soo friendly, esp since you all know you’re all in the same position. My first thought when arriving was “woah, there are a lot of foreigners” but then I realized I was one of them.
We had to be in our rooms by about 11, but no one did bed check so we (my roommates and i) stayed up and chatted for awhile. The next day was all orientation, it was very boring, but I heard of some groups who had very interesting orientations where they played games. (we broke off into groups based on regions). That night everyone took pictures together, it didn’t matter if you knew them, everyone was just so friendly and was so in awe by you being from another country, so it was completely normal for a person to come up to you with a camera and take a picture with you. And it was completely normal for a random person to jump into a picture. When it was time to go to bed, we had to leave the square and go to our rooms. Bed time was more so enforced the second night because some people had to leave as early as 5:30am or 6am(me). So we went to bed, and the next morning I woke up my roommates to say goodbye(due to their request, not to be annoying) and I packed my stuff and left. Everyone who was going to my region left with me, and we boarded the buses, headed off to the trin station where we ate breakfast and then boarded the train in Rome.
The train ride was about 3 hours, there were a few stops like blogna, and one other, then it was milano. On the train some slept, some ate, some just chatted with others.. then we got to our stop, and we were all just so anxious. We got off the train and afs intercultural welcomed us, then (since there were so many of us going near Milan) there was a welcome ceremony for us(only two of them, in rome and Milan). We each had to stand up in front of everyone and introduce ourselves, then we met our families, and there was a giant picture taken of EVERYONE!
My Host family and I got my bags and left, we headed straight towards our little town, where we first had pizza. Then we went to the house, where they showed me around, then I took a nap since i was just so tired. I was woken up by my host father since my mom was on skype apparently, and I chatted with her for awhile which was nice 

That night we had corn on the cob(American thing), and my host mom wanted me to have Italian for lunch, and American for dinner, and that was just how it was. I LOVE ITALIAN FOOD!
So yeah I went to bed, then the next morning I slept in(I did not have school as I thought I would) and I woke and no one was home. I hung around for awhile, and then myhost parents came home for lunch. Then they took me to the office and I hung out there. Then we picked up sofia and gabri from school. After school we went into town to shop for a bit, we got ice cream as well! It was so good! Then we went home for dinner, I forgot what we ate, but everything in italy is good haha

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Last few days. Departing home in less than 4 hours. Departing Seattle in less than 7 hours :)

I leave home in about 5 hours. And right now, all I am feeling, is that there is no looking back.

These past few days my agenda has been really busy:

5 days ago: Went to a college nearby to take a college placement test(for when i return home)
                  Packing
                  Did english homework
                  Studied Italian
                
4 days ago: Went to the DOL(department of llicensing) to geet my permit renewed so that it would serve as my ID while in Italy (Although I SHOULD be licensed, because i passed my tests and such, but my 6 months for with-holding my permit ended on Sept 5th, and the DOL was closed due to Labor day weekend.. so I have to wait until i get back :( )
                  Hung out with some friends
                  Went to my cousins for their birthday party(last time to see the whole family)
   
3 days ago: Family roadtrip, I drove us all to Sequim/Portownsend(i think thats how you spell it). It was a 3 hour drive, and we went to an animal farm and we brought my dog too! My dog was excited and he barked a lot.. it was really funny. I think the purpose of this roadtrip though, was just so that my whole family could really spend one last complete day together. It's different when youre at home together, because you are all doing your own thing. I would probably be in my room on my laptop and listening to music. MY brother would prbably be playing video games. and my mom would probably be cooking or working on something or watching the news. But on a roadtrip, we are all in the car together, so it was really nice to be able to spend the WHOLE day with them, even if we did get lost a few times and it did make us frustrated :P

2 days ago: I had brunch with my family at a nice and fancy restaurant, they had the BEST pancakes ever..
                  Went home, and packed a little more
                  Drove my grandma home and spent some time with her before i would leave.
                  Came back to Seattle, just in time for BUMBERSHOOT! Best festival ever! (in case you dont know what it is, it's a big music festival in seattle, where bands play all weekend long for 3 days straight! I saw Ra Ra Riot and LMFAO. It was AMAZING)

1 day ago: Woke up
                 Packed more haha
                 Sorted through papers with my mom(AFS papers, ID papers, boarding passes etc)
                 Got ready to go out with some friends(last time to see them for a whole year!)
                 Skyped my host family
                 Hung out with my friends
                 Came home and packed

I know it sounds lame that i mention packing so much, but packing really is a pain and is really stressful. I really did spend HOURS possibly even DAYS on it. I actually just finished maybe 30 minutes ago. I thought i knew what i was going to bring, but it turns out i was over the weight limit. So my routine was that it was too full, so i emptied it, then i was under. and tried to fill it back so i could take advantage and use the space. then it would be over, and then under weight limit again.. it was really frustrating. I also had to wait for my laundry to come out :P

Right now, now that I'm done packing(everything except for the few things like hairbrush and toothbrush which i will use in the morning) all I am doing, is thinking. One of my best friends just made me a video, since she was unable to say goodbye to me and send me off. She made me the sweetest best video ever! and it just made me want to cry. In it the song "And We Danced" by Macklemore played. And I just thought it was a really good conclusional song. It was happy, but sad, and it really made me think of all the good times ive had with everyone i care about. Sammi if you are reading this, THANK YOU! AND I LOVE YOU! I WILL NOT FORGET YOU!

Here is a picture from my last camping trip to the cabin with my scouts. It makes me really happy, and that I'm going to feel this way about all of you forever. Love :)

I Love you all! I'm going to miss you so much! <3

Sunday, August 29, 2010

9 days. Update

Today Kali came over (a girl from the seattle area as well, I am flying out with her and her family to NY, and i met her through facebook. I love facebook..) and she helped me pack. I think I'm almost done! We even weighed my bags, and turns out i still have extra weight, so i can put more stuff in my bag! being practically done with packing has made it so much more real. I mean obviously it is, but grasping the concept is.. unexplainable. with each step i make in the progress of going to italy, it becomes just that much more real. like the day i got my host family. the day i got my first response back from them when i emailled. the day i got my visa. and many other things!

My host family has told me they will buy my school supplies for me since school starts the day after i get to my new home. Wow! so fast! and I'm really excited to start school. it's weird for me though, because i have never been "the new kid". I have stayed in school and grown up with the same group up kids since i was put in preschool. we continue to chat very frequently, but not so much in the past few days since they have gone on vacation, and skype on my end has been acting strangely.. my messages seemed to not be getting through to them. But when we have chatted, they have reassured me with my concerns, and they tell me about the many things we will do together as a family. We have already spoken about going camping often(they have a camper, like a trailer i believe), how we will go skiing, how we will travel for a wedding, how we will go on vacation, and small road trips to their house in torino! sono molto felice!( i am very excited!) haha sorry i know i say that a lot but i have no idea how else to decribe it.

Kali and I will arrive in New York in the early afternoon on the 7th. on the 8th we are supposed to meet up with all other USA AFSers at the hotel, where we sleep and have orientation. I'm really looking forward to NY orientation, and meeting all the other exchange students, but even more, i'm excited to meet ALL the other exchange students from around the ENTIRE world! there is a facebook group, and there are about 200 members, but we are told that about 400 of us will go to italy on exchange through AFS. That's a lot! I heard the orientation part is really boring, but just being with the other exchange students is really fun. Can't wait!

p.s. I'm kind of sad to leave home on the 7th, rather than the 8th, just because it's one more day that i could spend with my family. but i really didnt want to fly to NY alone, and I was fortunate enough to find another AFSer going to italy in the seattle area. Actually, and my first orientation(PDO-pre-departure orientation) there were i think 7 others going to Italy in washington. 6 of which, including me are from seattle. or maybe 4.. haha i forget. But that's a lot! So yeah, i'm really excited. ok i should really stop saying that word.. k bye! ciao a tutti!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

20 Days

So. In 20 days I will have left my lovely home in the seattle area, and I'll be on my way to NY. It's so hard to believe. Everything is sinking in. It's weird to think that I'll be gone for almost a whole year, away from home, away from friends, away from family, away even for the holidays! I'm going to miss it, but Italy is soooo worth it! I can only imagine how exciting and fun its going to be! My head is going insane right now. There used to be days where I'd sit around doing nothing, I'd lie outside and tan, and paint my nails or something. It was relaxing, my mind was at ease. But now(not that it's a bad thing) it feels like everything is flying through my mind at once, it never stops. Random thoughts keep shooting through my brain and piling up.

Important things that have been going on in my life since last post:

> LOTS and LOTS of cleaning and packing. I'm trying to sell a bunch of stuff at a garager sale for my own spending money for Italy. And I've been trying to fit my life into one suitcase! Packing is really difficult, esp. since I'll be living in the north, i just dont know what to do about winter clothes and such. Ive been told numerous times to pack lightly, but i just cant do it. I keep buying this and that thinking, "oh I know i will go shopping in italy, and i know i can buy the same stuff there, but it's expensive there" so i get it here. the issue is i cant fit everything in! well i can.. but its really hard.

> SKYPE! I get so excited when i skype my host family, I can only imagine when we are with each other in person!  I really got lucky with them. They are really funny, and the children are adorable! I cant wait to meet them and play with them :)
> Oh yeah, and this goes along with packing and host family stuff. Ive been shopping a lot. haha getting my family stuff is a great excuse to go shopping, and i always find something absolutly adorable and i can just imagine my host sisters using it. I love host family gift shopping! lol its greatt

> Dropped my phone in my hot tub last night.. Ooops. So yeah I'm kinda stressing about that because i have my packing list and all my notes on it.. and EVERYTHING on my calendar on it. It's driving me crazy because the phone works but not the screen, and it's on vibrate so it just keeps buzzing but i cant see the messages! its so frustrating.. So I'm doing everything i can to get it fixed or find a used old one, cuz like, why would i want to get a new one to use it for just 20 days? I NEED my phone.. I'm realizing how dependent i am on technolgy and it bothers me, but it bothers me more that i dont have my phone. sad..

Host stuff: So my family has informed me that school will start the 13th. That is the day after i first meet them and get to borgo ticino. This is the biggest peice of news i have recieved from them since the last time i posted. I think.. I think this is the one thing thats freaking me out the most about being in italy. Like, I am sooooo excited to be there, but the thought of having just one day to adjust, to fall into normal patterns(school) the very next day.. My main concerns are just about making friends, since you know, i cant talk to them. My other concern is how people will think of me, Ive been told they love americans, but the thing is i dont look american. So i think the first day of school will be very interesting..

Conclusional feelings:
Things are going well right now. Though I have an unaccountable level of stress, due to cramming in english classes, and my culminating project, and my gold award project, and just packing in general. I think i will get through things. Ive made a lot of progress with each of those things on my checklist within the past 10 days. I feel very accomplished :D Now i just have to finish them all before i leave in just 20 days! OMG!!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

30 days..

WOW! I cannot believe it. Just 30 days left at home. It's mind blowing.. I have soo much to do, and i am completly stressing out! And i still need to go shopping for everything i will need once i am actually in italy! The time is just flying by. With each passing day i check more things off my list(well, most days haha) and every day i get a little more and more scared, but at the same time more and more excited. It's just finally happening, the closer it is, the more real it feels.

30 days.. thats one month, or less than one month
30 days.. till im off to New York
30 days.. should be just enough time to get everything done.. i hope
30 days.. left to spend with my family, whom i will miss soo much!
30 days.. to spend with my dear friends
30 days.. to get EVERYTHING in order
....
....

30 days.. left at home.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Random Post

Sooooooooooo... This is what's going on:

As of tomorrow(today is almost over) I have 34 days left(not including the day i leave since i leave at like 6am) in the USA. This is an unbelievable feeling..like, I am SO excited! but I'm also really sad to leave, it's so weird to have these mixed feelings. youre probably reading this thinking yeah duh it's possible, but when you actually have these feelings, its sooo weird!

I am soooooooo stressed because in order not to fall behind in my school in the US, i have to take amstuds and english outside of school. so i am currently taking english online, and it sucks.. im really not self motivated enough to get this stuff done.

I also have to:

-finish my gold award application(highest award a girl scout can get... yes i am still a girl scout, dont mock me! :P)
-finish filling out my culminating project proposal(my senior graduation project)
-study SAT's
-spend time with friends and family before i leave(i know its stupid to make it a "thing to do" but it really is because i wont see them for a whole year!)
-I also am helping plan my girl scout camping trip, one last time together before i leave! i love my troop..
-then of course i have to go host family gift shopping, i already have pretty good ideas of what im getting them :)
-then i have to still work! and fundraise as much money as i possibly can!
-then pack.. packing is a pain. trying to cram your life into one bag and one carry on which can be up to 44lb and 22lb, including the weight of the bag, sucks!

So yeah thats me right now.. excited! but crazy stressed, so much to do in so little time.

AFS

AKA

Another Fat Student

I'm seriously scared of getting fat

7/31/10 Anxiety, and some news!

So above is a picture of my italian host siblings! from left to right, Sofia(12), Isabella(4), and Gabriele(8). I am soo excited to finally meet them in just 43 days!( i think.. haha) Skyping my family has been going REALLY well! For awhile now I have been consistently skyping my host mom, then my father, which has been really fun! i really like with them! Even better, this week, I got to skype my host sister Sofia(the one i will be sharing a room with) for the first time. And i get a long with her so well! she is really nice and fun!

This morning i woke up, went online and found there was a contact request, i wasn’t sure who it was, but then my host mom messaged me telling me it was this girl, named Maria. My host mother explained to me that Maria is a girl from Columbia who will come to Italy for a semester abroad studying law in university. Soo.. this means i will have another host sister! But not an Italian host sister.. but a host sister who is an exchange student as well! Ahh i am unbelievably excited! I just got this news this morning and I have already been in contact with Maria and I LOVE talking with her! Even though she is only coming second semester, we are already talking about and fantasizing how she will drive us to Milano and go shopping together, how we will go out to discos and pubs together and how we will get italian boys hah do many things together :)

Just thought I’d share. I think this is pretty interesting stuff.. I think it’s pretty rare that an exchange students host family hosts another exchange student at the same time. It is odd.. but at the same time so exciting! I will be learning about two cultures at once! And I ABSOLUTLY CANNOT WAIT!! It is strange because here at home i have one brother who is close to my age. But in Italy i will have 3 younger siblings, and second semester i will have a older sister. WOW!

Packing (7/12/10)

So today i just got my suit case. my mom bought like 3 different giant ones.. and then i weighed them all. they each weigh about 10lbs, that means i only get to pack 34lbs of stuff… nooooo! it’s just finally getting to my head.. that everything is coming down to this. It’s all becoming so real, and i’m so excited! yet so nervous at the same time, not about my host family, i know they are GREAT! (i’ve been skyping them)

But im nervous about, just if everything as a whole is going to go well. mostly about packing. I’m just absolutly TERRIFIED that not everything i need is going to fit! or worse, i might forget to bring something.

aahhhh! well im already working on my packing list.. so hopefully that doesnt happen!

AFS exchange (7/10/10)

Ahhh! okay, so i’m really bad at blogging.. like im doing everything out of order and it isnt really making much sense. I JUST started blogging like this week, but i should have started at the beginning of this WHOLE experience. It doesnt just start the day i leave for Italy. It started way back when i first began applying. OMG my application took me FOREVER!



basically, for those of you who want to know about the first few steps of being an exchange student, here:


-pre-application


-application(health forms, essay, photos, about you, parent statement, letters of recommendation, passport, interview, etc.)

-START YOUR VISA APPLICATION ASAP! The paper work takes a long time..


-pay tuition fee

-get accepted

-pre-departure orientation (PDO)

-wait…

….wait


…wait


BE PATIENT! (the longer they take for you, they are just spending more time trying to find you the perfect family for you :) ) <—— that is weird… like parenthesis in parenthesis even though its really a smiley face..


anyways


-get host family


-communicate with host family(email, chat, i used skype!)


-get travel notifcations

-book flight to international gateway

-get school notification

These are all KEY steps to going abroad.. I myself am at the point where im learning italian (dont have to, but it’s good to be prepared!) and i am freaking out about packing!


I’ve been making a huge packing list, I’m just so scared im going to forget something..


Oh and then there is also (things i havent gotten to yet):


-pack


-fly to international gateway


-international orientation


-fly to rome


-orientation in rome

-meet host family!

So anyways, this is just for those who are interested in the steps, or those who are reading this and are interested in going on exchange. It sounds like a lot, i admit yes it sort of is, but it doesnt really seem like it. I mean, you have such a long time to prepare, and you just take it day at a time. I’m enjoying the last two months i have here at home, just spending every moment of it with people i love and having fun!

p.s. i actually have no idea why i made this… i guess im just really bored.

Travel Notifications (6/26/10)

June 26, 2010

Dear Rachael,

An important part of preparing for your AFS experience is to know when you are leaving and where your orientation will be held. Please read the attached information to help you plan for your departure. Your international flight and gateway orientation are as follows:

Program: YPscNH10 Italy

Travel Itinerary:


Direction : Departure


Carrier Name Carrier No. DEPARTURE ARRIVAL Location Date Time Location Date Time Swiss International Air Lines15JFK - New York - John F. Kennedy, NY9-September-108:50 PMZRH - Zürich - Kloten10-September-1010:55 AMSwiss International Air Lines1736ZRH - Zürich - Kloten10-September-1012:35 PMFCO - Rome - Fiumicino10-September-102:05 PM


Baggage Allowance:

1 CARRY-ON, NOT TO EXCEED 8 INCHES x 16 INCHES x 21 INCHES; UP TO 22 POUNDS

1 CHECKED UP TO 44 POUNDS

AFS has stricter luggage regulations than some airlines. These regulations reflect the stricter baggage allowances provided by airlines within your host country. AFS assumes no responsibility for excess or oversize baggage fees.

________________________________________________________________________


So basically i got my travel notifcations, and I’ll be flying from NY to zurich, then rome. ahh roma! belissima!
I’m just nervous about packing! i need to start creating a list, because we can only have 1 bag for the whole year!!