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, 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.



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:


-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)




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..


-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):


-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:



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!!

Host Family (6/2/10)

I've recieved my host family info today! All i know is i have a host mom, dad, another adult(moms cousin), a little sister(4), brother(8), and sister(12) who i will share a room with. There is also an outdoor cat (thank goodness! cuz i have allergies…). My family lives in a small town near borgomanero with a population of about 4,000 people. I’ll be going to school in borgomanero and my school is called Liceo Scientifico Galileo Galilei. It’s a science school, which is good cuz i can get credits to transfer over. That's all for now!

Update on Host Family: I've been emailling my host family since i recieved my info, and they are so great! i recently got more information about then im the mail the other day, it says they speak italian, german, french, spanish and english. wow! I’ve been emailling them back and forth for some time now, I am sooo excited to finally meet them in just 2 months!
(Though this post was not created on the date that i wrote above, i thought it fit this post because it is about my host family.. so yeahh)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


I've realized that though Tumblr may be easier to use, it is difficult for the kind of blog im trying to make, like document my journey through time, and with tumblr you cant look back at the posts you've done each month like you can here so I'm switching over to Blogspot for my blog about Italy. Meanwhile I will keep my other blog on random stuffon Tumblr.. so yeah just letting you know because I want all of my Italy stuff ehre on this blog, So I'm  gonna switch them over, like copy and paste my posts haha. So the dates wont really match up, so i will date it the date that i actually posted them, but here they will all show up in august haha


Hey guys! I’m Rachael, a 16 year old from Seattle, WA. I’m going to be going abroad in Italy my junior year of high school, and I’m SO excited! I absolutly cannot wait! A little about me: I love music, food, beaches, swings, dancing, sports, friends, family, and honesty. That pretty much sums me up :)
I want to go abroad because I know that as a person I will grow a lot, and learn a lot of new things. I chose AFS program specifically because I know I could trust them. They are well organized and have a really good reputation, I felt as though I could trust my whole abroad experience and leave it to them, in their hands.
I am sooo looking forward to this GREAT experience. I’m mostly excited about just learning a new language, becoming immersed in a whole new culture, learning so many new things and trying new things. I really want to go out of my comfort zone, and know that I can become a mature independent young adult, and overall grow as a person.
I hope that in the future, I will become much more involved in AFS, it’s a really fun and engaged program. I like that just by volunteering every so often, you become such great friends with people all around the world, and you make great lifetime connections!
There are a few things I really need to prepare for though, and one of them is fundraising. I really want to be able to help my mom in being able to pay for this whole program. I feel bad, and I want to help out as much as I can! I’ve already been babysitting a lot, doing yard work, pet sitting and dog walking. I’ve been trying to raise as much as I can, so far i’ve only made about $400. I am going to continue working until I leave, as my goal is $3500.
Thanks for your time!
To sponsor my AFS program now, please click the ChipIn button.