Tuesday, September 28, 2010

No title(im not creative)

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!

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 :(

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!

>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!

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)
                  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