Sunday, October 2, 2011

Let me wake up again, tomorrow morning in Italy.

Every day is a gloomy day.
Every day is a reminder.
Every day that passes, is another I couldn't take.

It's October now. A year ago I was in Italy. I still can't beleive I used to live there. Before on my last post i commented on how its fun to see everyone and come back to a lot of things i missed. I guess that was true for the first month I was back. Then the culture shock hit me, again. Except it was my own culture. I'm not used to it anymore, I realize that now.

I miss Italy, I want nothing more than to go back, to be with my amazing family there and be with all my friends again. I want to talk to my friends and hangout with them, but they're so far away. Just to even set up a time to skype with them is difficult with the hours and hours of time difference.

The first month back was ok. But further into the transition, I began to realize why I left again. It's harder than I imagined, I thought all my friends would be here to welcome me home, I thought things would go back to normal. In a way i think things did go back to normal, things are normal. It's boring. it's not only that though, but i'm not even friends with the friends i had before i left. Things have changed, people have changed, and I especially have changed, and no one here understands me. It's really difficult to be here, to continue life like nothing happened. If youre lucky and talking to a nice person here, theyre gonna ask you how was Italy? and that is/was the extent of everything. It hurts to not be able to talk about the most important and meaningful experience and year of my life. I cant. Even if i did, no one would get it, but no ones asking, so.. I have to let it be.

It's hard to go through this transition to go to normalness, but without the friends I had before. They were the ones who supported me in exchange, its just I had no idea what i was coming back to.

Life here, and now, it's just normal. And when I say normal, I mean the usual wake up, classes, the occassional football games and yeah sure those are fun. I suppose there are fun moments, but it's never really a good fun memory without my friends. The only other big difference (other than the friend change) is that now i have college applications. It's stressful. That's all. It's like i come back to this place i wanted to leave from, but without the friends i thought i had, and with more work. It's great.

Well, life goes by. It's just really difficult to go through this year, like this. I feel like im alone, and stuck. I can't do anything, I can't breathe. I want to let it out, but I can't. I have all this i want to share but I can't, I have all this that i want to say but I can't. I can't be here right now.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Let me go

I'm back. home. It's hard to believe.  I still can't right now. It's strange, strange to be back in America. (I got back in america the 10th, but just got home th 16th because i was on the east coast visiting colleges) It was strange to hear english all over again, everywhere, by now i think and speak italian everyday. The culture shock is hitting me way harder than it did when i arrived in Italy in the beginning. After being here only just a week, i notice so many things about America, and how weird America is. Really. I didnt even remember all these "famous american things" that italians pointed out to me, until i got back and realized they are so normal its not a big deal. (long list, sorry right now im too lazy. ill add later) I didnt even remember what america was like. I had let my mind go, and let it wander in Italy. I think It's still there..

By now i'm so used to the italian life, i really dont know what to do with myself here. I feel so lost. I don't feel like i belong here. I have this attatchment to Italy and i want to go back sooo badly right now. And I've only been back for less than 10 days. Being back home has been really hard. I have only been home home for a couple of days now. Things really are like nothing has changed. Life here is still the same, which is why it's difficult for me to place myself back into life here, and carry on like normal after I myself have changed so much. Basically, the family house life routine is the same, people are the same, nothing has changed at all. And here i come back from this big life changing experience, and life continues like normal. That was weird for me. I mean, it's obvious that would happen, but experiencing that was weird.

Being home in these few days, I've been studying. A lot. I have to finish this course if i want to graduate on time(this course isnt taught in italy. but other than english 11 i did all my other courses in italy) and none of my friends are home in town. So it's been lonely. I mean, i am studying, but that also means im home alone a lot, with a lot of time to think. And when i think, my mind is still lost in italy. I really do feel lost. I miss italy so much it hurts, I dont know what to do with myself. I want to be back in ITaly this very moment, I miss my host family, i miss my friends, and everyone from AFS. they were seriously the best friends i could have ever had and were always there for me, and now, we are all back in our homes all around the world, so far apart. I feel alone.

Being back is nice, like i got to eat all the food i missed for a year, i got to see my family and my puppy and drive my car, and see some friends and sleep in my bed. It's like, i needed a bit of my "home stuff" here. but for life, i dont feel like i need to be here forever. I want to be in Italy forever. I think coming back, was like getting all the stuff i needed, but for a week or two vacation. not for permanantly being back. I'm back. I can't deny it. There. I'm back. I'm back... And i have to accept it, and go on with life, normal life. So far away from all my best friends, my loved ones, the best relationships and bonds i've made in one year. All i want to do is cry and go back to Italy to see everyone and live my life there. But i can't hold on forever. I seriously have to go on.

hopefully I'll be able to go back to college/university or something. I'm seriously in love with Italy. I miss the chill culture, i miss hilarious people, i miss eating the food my host mom cooks, i miss the aromas of the food and everything around in italy, i miss walking down the cobblestoned streets, i miss passing by fountains and little spickets of water everywhere, i miss the strange milan fashions, i miss passing by a random roman ruin, i miss the flowery gardens, i miss the small village growing food in your garden thing, i miss my friends, i miss my host family, i miss the beautiful Italy, it's so magical. I just need to let go, and I need Italy to let me go.


But whatever. I'll keep you guys posted on how my transition goes. and IF i am able to go to university in italy. And if anyone italian, or exchanger, or future exchanger has questions, ask me! and ill make other posts with responses :)

sorry this was really wordy, im bad at writing and i didnt know how to explain myself very well..

Thank you to everyone who has followed my blog throughout this year, it made me really happy to see that people were reading my blog, and were at least a little curious about my life or exchange in general. Just, thank you guys, all of you for everything :)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A Voi Italiani e a tutti gli altri che parlano italiano

Questo post è per voi Italiani. Vi ringrazio di tutto! Essendo una straniera, non sapete quanto mi avete aiutato. Anche con semplici gesti di gentilezza. Quelli che mi hanno dato una mano con qualsiasi cosa, è questo significa molto per me.

Grazie se a scuola mi avete parlato e non mi avete fatto a sentire sola. Se mi avete aiutato con i compiti e mi avete fatto capire che c'era qualcuno simpatico qui per me :) se mi avete chiesto di uscire e mi avete dato una mano ad avere una vita sociale :)

Quelli con cui sempre potevo fare qualsiasi domanda, quelli con cui sempre potevo parlare di qualsiasi cosa, quelli che mi ascoltavono, ho sempre saputo che c'eravate.. vi voglio tantissimo bene! Mi avete aiutato tantissimo quest'anno. Perchè vi avevo, non mi sentivo da sola. rimarremo in contatto, e sempre potrete venire a Seattle, siete tutti i benvenuti :))

Voi ragazzi di Intercultura. Anche a voi, vi voglio tantissimo bene! avete aperto gli occhi e ho imparato tanto da voi. Abbiamo scoperto che le persone sono persone in qualsiasi parte del mondo, ora siamo migliori amici, e siete un'altra famiglia. ci capiamo, ci siamo divertiti ogni volta eravamo insieme. Alloraa dobbiamo viaggiare ovunque nel mondo a trovarci! Ho passato bellissimo anno con voi, non so come spiegare tutto, cioè, abbiamo imparato tantissimo insieme, abbiamo avuto nostaglia, avevamo paura, abbiamo fatto finta di capire nostri amici, abbiamo fatto la finta che non capivamo un cazzo a scuola xD, scherzavamo, conosciamo lo sconociuto, abbiamo le storie assurde da raccontare, e ci siamo fatti tanti amici che sono diventati come fratelli e sorelle.. etc etc. ma cmq devete sapere che vi voglio bene ♥♥

e per la famiglia..

Cara Famiglia,

Mi avete salvato! Veramente! Se non mi aveste presa, sarei tornata gia' 5 mesi fa. Non avrei fatto l'esperienza. Mi avete presentato la cultura italiana, mi avete portato nei posti piu belli del mondo, mi avete insegnato l'italiano cacchio!!! Mi avete fatto sentire parte della famiglia. Voi siete la mia famiglia! Vi ringrazio per quest'anno, ora abbiamo tantissimi ricordi, da scherzi, tutte la parole che ci fanno ridere, erano bei tempi. avete ragione, non è un addio, è un arrivederci. Tornerò di sicuro! Poi verrete a trovarmi a Seattle :) viaggeremo insieme, e ci trovaremo di nuovo FORSE anche in Brasile ;) e quando venite a Seattle, vedrete che NON SEMPRE piove xD e scopriremo se è un lago o un mare hahaha. cmq siete la migliore famiglia che avrei potuto avere :)

Voi tutti, mi avete insegnato tanto, ho imparato tanto quest'anno e mai vi dimenticarò. L'Italia e voi tutti starete sempre nel mio cuore.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

What a year has taught me.

1. Yesterday doesnt matter. Move on, there are more important things, there's a tomorrow.

2. Yeah, I know life is scary. But nothing in life is ever going to be easy or fair wherever you go.

3. Per forza, Prova!! Put effort into everything, just try! cuz slacking off isnt gonna do you anything, you aren't gonna get anywhere if you dont try.

4. Dont be judgmental people, or prejudiced against races. (i never was though, just saying) Because we are all people living in the same world. We're all just human beings. We think the same, we have opinions, secrets, fears etc. (Now i have best friends from all over the world)

5. Independence. Look out. Watch out for yourself. Figure out stuff on your own. Youre all on your own out in that big world.

6. Enjoy yourself. I notice italians relax a lot and live for pleasure. they really enjoy themselves in pretty much everything they do. Chill.

7. Take chances and Make Risks. This year I overcame a fear of mine. Swimming in bodies of water(other than pools) I dont know, i think I've always been scared knowing that in lakes or seas theres things living, or that i cant sea the bottom. But being here in Italy, I forced myself to go swimming in every body of water there is. heck, i go in the fountains even though its illegal here xD Anyways I go swimming in every lake, and even the sea. I force myself, telling myself, "Rachael, you have to do this. You're in friggin Italy. Get in that water. When's the next time youre gonna get this opportunity? or how cool is it to swim in this famous lake, this famous sea?(mediteranean)" So i jump. literally, Last week I jumped off a cliff in liguria into the mediteranean sea :) My best friend pushed me to do it. And she pushed me into swimming out way far off the coast, or the part where im comfortable(i feel vulnerable like something can eat me if im too far out) so that we could see the view of the mountain range and the waters and the whole beach. IT was amazing. She seriously made me realize that i have to live my life. and Do everything i can, when i have the opportunites, or basically in general, to not have fear, dont fear life and dont be afraid to go for it. I then realized that it doesnt just matter that im in italy. It doesnt matter where i am, i still have to push myself to overcome my fears, i still have to push myself to do things everday. Live your life. seriously! dont just say it cuz it's a cool saying. But go out and do it! Enjoy yourself, and make memories, do crazy stuff, and overcome your fears.

This year made me force myself to try new things, telling myself everytime, it's just because im in italy. But really, even when i go back home, I'm going to continue trying new things. It doesnt matter where you are. try new things. dont be scared. make memories.

Before I didnt want to go home. But by now I'm ready. I think I've accepted it. Like it's time, and I'm ready to get back to my bed, my family, my car, my city, my life. But I'm definitly coming back here. I'm so in love with Italy, but i realized it isnt my home, it isnt my real life here. it was kind of like a fantasy and that's why i didnt want to leave. But i know i have my family here, and friends, and some of the hardest times here, but also the best. I've had some pretty good times here and created good memories. But it's time to go home, and now I'm ok with that. Maybe I'll come back for university or something :)

P.S. This is for Lauren, She taught me "Carpe diem", and she is the best friend who I envy because she is never scared of anything, and pushes me to go for things and to overcome my fears. I'm so grateful and lucky to have her as a friend and to have met her here in Italy. I have my best memories with you and I'm gonna miss you so much

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Ok, take a deep breath. Here we go ragazzi.

It's scary. less than 2 weeks here. I leave my house and from milan central station on a train to rome on July 9th. Us americans leave Rome July 10th. and We'll be back in our country July 10th.

We have such little time. It's terrifying. We havve such little time to do all these things. say goodbye to everyone, and do these last minute things. It's not enough!

This is a little something being passed around us exchange students, and this is what they read to us at our camp. IT made us all cry, and it's true. Here we go..

L'anno D'oro

Un anno è passato e ora sei sull'orlo di ritornare dove sarai circondato dal paradosso di tutto ma invece niente sarà lo stesso.
Fra poco abbraccerai controvoglia e, combattendo contre le lacrime, saluterai le persone che un giorno erano solo nomi su un foglio di carta

Per tornare dalle persone che hai abbracciate combattendo contro le lacrime al momento di salutarle

Prima di partire.
Lascerai i tuoi migliori amici per tornare dai tuoi migliori amici.

Ritornerai da dove vieni e tornerai a fare le stesse cose che facevi l'estate scorsa e tutte le altre estati prima.

Arriverai in città da questa stessa strada familiare, e anche se sono passati mesi, ti sembrerà appena ieri.

Quando entrerai nella tua vecchia stanza, tutte le emozioni ti attravversaranno mentre rifletterai su quanto la tua vita è cambiata e la persona che sei diventata.

All'improvviso capirai che le cose più importanti per te un anno fa non sembrano più così importanti oggi, e che le cose che ti importano di più ora, nessuno qui a casa le può veramente capire.

Chi chiamerai per primo ?

Che cosa farai del tuo primo fine settimana a casa coi tuoi amici ?

Dove lavorerai ?

Chi ci sarà alla festa sabato sera ?

Che cos'hanno fatto tutti questi ultimi mesi ?

Con chi parlerai ancora a scuola ?

Quanto tempo prima che le persone che facevano irruzione senza chiamare né bussare ti manchino ?
Allora inizi a capire quanto le cose sono cambiate, e capisci che la parte più difficile dell'essere un intercambista è di saper trovare l'equilibrio tra i due mondi completamente diversi in cui vivi ora, provando disperatamente di tenerti a tutto mentre cerci di capire quello che devi lasciare dietro di te.

Conosci il significato della vera amicizia.

Sai con chi sei ancora in contatto dopo un anno e chi ha un posto così importante nel tuo cuore.
Hai lasciato il tuo mondo per affrontare il mondo reale.
Hai avuto il cuore spezzato, ti sei innamorato, hai aiutato il tuo migliore amico a superare i suoi problemi, la depressione, lo stress, la morte ...

Hai acceso candele nella grotta e sei rimasto in piedi tutta la notte solo per parlare con un amico che ne aveva bisogno.

Ci sono stati dei momenti in cui ti sei sentito impotente essendo così lontano da casa mentre sapevi che la tua famiglia o i tuoi amici avevano tanto bisogno di te, e ci sono dei momenti in cui sai di aver fatto la differenza.
Fra poco te ne andrai.

Fra poco toglierai tutte le immagini, e metterai i tuoi panni nella valigia. Finite le ore a passeggiare senza fine. Lascierai i tuoi amici di cui gli indirizzi mail e numeri di telefono ti faranno piangere quest'estate, e magari anche i prossimi anni. Prenderai i tuoi ricordi e sogni e li metterai da parte per il momento, tenendoli per il tuo ritorno in questo mondo.

Fra poco arriverai a casa. Fra poco disfarai la valigia e cenerai con le tue famiglie. Andrai dal tuo migliore amico e non farete niente per ore, senza fine. Ritornerai dagli stessi amici di chi lei mail e chiamate telefoniche ti hanno fatto piangere durante l'anno. Tirerai fuori vecchi sogni e ricordi che avevi messo da parte quest'anno.

Fra poco andrai fino in fondo a cercare la forza e le convinzioni per aggiustarti al cambiamento e per stare vicino a tutti. E così, in un certo modo, troverai il tuo posto tra questi due mondi.
Sei pronto?


The Golden Year

A year has passed and now you stand on the brink of returning to a world where you will be surrounded by the paradox of everything and yet nothing will be the same.

Soon, you will reluctantly give your hugs, fighting back the tears, say goodbye to the people who were once just names on a sheet of paper

to return to the people that you hugged and fought tears to say goodbye to before you ever left.

You will leave your best friends to return to your best friends.

You will return to where you came from and you'll return to doing the same things you did last summer and all the summers before.

You will arrive in town on that same familiar road, and even though months have passed it will seem like only yesterday.

When you step into your old bedroom, all your emotions will pass through you as you reflect on how much your life has changed and the person you have become.

You will suddenly understand that the things that were most important to you a year ago don't seem to matter so much anymore, and that the things you hold highest now, no one at home will completely understand.

Who will you call first?

What will you do your first weekend home with your friends?

Where are you going to work?

Who will be at the party saturday night?

What has everyone been up to in these past months?

Who from school will you still keep in touch with?

How long before you actually start missing people barging in without knocking or calling?

Then you start to realize how much things have changed, and you understand that the hardest part about being an exchange student is knowing how to find a balance between the two completely different worlds in which you now live, trying desperately to hold onto everything all the while, trying to figure out what you have to leave behind.

You know what true friendship means.

You know whom you have kept in touch with over the past year and whom you hold dearest in your heart.

You've left your world to deal with the real world.

You had your heart broken, you fell in love, you helped your best friend overcome their problems, depression, stress, death...

You lit candles at the grotto and stayed up all night just to talk to a friend in need.

There have been times when you felt helpless being so far away from home, knowing your family or your friends needed you, and there have been times when you know you have made a difference.

Soon you will leave

Soon you will take down your pictures and pack up your clothes. No more endless hours walking around aimlessly. You will leave your friends who's random e-mails and phone calls will make you laugh and cry this summer, and hopefully years to come. You will take your memories and dreams and put them away for now, saving them for when you return to this world.

Soon you'll arrive at home. Soon you'll unpack your bags and eat dinner with your family. You will go over to your best friends house and do nothing for hours on end. You will return to the same friends whose random e-mails and phone calls have brought you to laughter and tears this year. You will unpack old dreams and memories that have been put away this past year.

Soon you will dig deep inside to find the strength and conviction to adjust to change and still stay close to everyone. And somehow, in some way, you will find your place between these two worlds.
Are you ready?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

28 days... til we leave our new home Italy

In 28 days we all have to go home. July 9th we all leave ourfamilies, or friends, our lives. Everything that we have lived for a year we have to leave in one morning. Us guys here that live near milan, are all taking the train from milan to rome in the morning. We'll be in Rome for one night, and then off we go back to our countries. 28 days. Exactly 4 weeks from today. I'm so terrified.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Here we are June. It's been 9 months

 As of two days ago I have been away from home for exactly 9 months. and on June 10th i will have been in Italy for exactly 9 months. It's surprising to think about how only 9 months can change your life so much. I can't believe I've been away from home so long.. If I had stayed home, I'd be doing my normal routine. The days just pass by, and that's all. But here, everyday we gotta live it up! enjoy it while we are here. we are living the expereince of a life time.

This past weekend we had camp. Last month camp, everything in Italian. There we met all the exchange students from Liguria, Piemonte, and Aosta. Our little northern corner of Italy. I got to see all my friends that i hadnt seen in a really long time, who live everywhere spreadout, and i met a lot of other new students who came here for second semester. It was one of the funnest weekends of my life. And one of the saddest weekends.  

I love being with other exchange students, it seriously doesnt matter where we are from, how old we are, or if we've ever even talked to eachother. We're still like family. During the whole weekend (thursday june 2nd to sunday june 5th, thursday was festa, so it's not like any of us missed school anyways) We had a bunch of activities and games. A bunch of random fun games, and lots of serious activities too. One was where the volunteers gave us 4 random dates of the year. 23rd of december, 15th of march, 1st of june, and the september to come. We had to write letters for each date describing how we felt in that period, and how we think things will be in september also, in the future. It's scary to think about the future. In the end we had to highlight 3 words for each of the four letters for each season, and write them down on a list. we came up with these lists

I took the picture before we did september oops..
Another was that we had to draw a graph, design curves of our experience in general. 4 lines, of family, language, friends and school. We had to make the graph and see how it changed over time, over the course of the year.

MY GRAPH(metti la foto qui)

And we had other activities which were like active activities, which are always fun.

One night we all layed down in a dark room, and a volunteer read this story to us. Well not so much of a story, but describing generally what will happen, what we will feel like. It felt like an hour of his reading, and after some time passed, you would just hear everyone crying. It was one of the saddest nights ever. Up until this camp, we have always told each other, dont talk about it, it wont happen, dont think about it. the fact that we have to go back. we dont want to go back. at least i dont. I've fallen in love with this place. I know ive always had problems, but i had probelms in america too. Life will never be easy or fair wherever you go. But I'm so in love with Italy. I dont care if i havent really made italian friends, i dont care if i had a horrible first 5 months, i dont care if there is lots of racism, i dont care if my italian sucks. Italy is beaautiful, and the culture and language is fascinating. And I've just become so used to everything, I've adjusted and my feelings towards italy are undescribable. Italy has changed me. Im honestly terrified about going back home. going back home willbe a bigger change, than coming here. Because before i was just excited, i thought about and expected about the things you can write down. Like learning a new languag, meeting new people etc. I never thought about the emotional aspect. And now that ive been here, for such a long time, i've changed, i have learned a new language and met new people, but I've also gained a lot of things that you cant just list and write down, you cant describe them like that its so much more emotional than that.

We also had to sit down one morning, and all morning long write letters to ourselves. We had to write aboutour feelings or, actually, anything we wanted! but our feelings, and the future, our fears, our reflection ofthe year. AFS told us theyd send it to us at christmas next year. Which is really cool! I'm excited to get my letter from myself at christmas haha

Camp in general was really fun, but in the end we had to take two different buses. one for the people who live near the camp place and people who live in torino. and the other for people who had to go directly to the station in torino to go off our separate ways(me). It was sad. my bus came first and we all got on. before we got on we all hugged and said goodbyes. we know we have another month. but a month just isnt enough time! We have one month to do everything, see things, be with our family and friends, travel, it really sint enough time. and so we got onto the bus, and looked out the window and waved at our friends down below waving. It was so sad, i wanted to cry, we all cried. And the moment the bus left we all cried even harder. we cried throughout practically the whole bus ride back to torino, and even from then which was 2  days ago, i'm still sad about it. I hate the idea of leaving and saying goodbye to my friends who i wont see for a long time. This year I've made friends from all around the world, belgium, china, norway, turkey, france, finland, bolivia, argentina, canada and other americans. everywhere around the world! And I wont get to see them for such a long time :( they're like another family.

So that was this weekend, one of the funnest and saddest weeknds of my life. It's going to be hard to let go, move on, and go back to America. I just keep thinking about how i've lived this life for almost a year, i just cant grasp the idea that we can just leave it like that, and leave our friends from all over the world.

Ci chiamiamo fratelli del mondo. We call ourselves brothers of the world. <3
Siamo una grande famiglia! Ragazzi vi voglio tantissimo bene! vi ringrazio perchè mi avete dato il migliore anno della mia vita. Ho imparato tantissimo da voi tutti

Anyways, other than camp. A lots been going on. There was the festa ofmy village which was really cute and fun and cultury. Lots of food and wine and games everywhere, like a fair! That same weekend was mothers day weekend. Mother's day day, The uncle Zio Nino passed away that morning, it was really hard on everyone, and nothing that we had all planned went like we thought it would for mothers day. The whole family came together and w stayed together. We understood he was old, and at least it was in his sleep, and he got to see the beata(the name of the village festival) It was a really really sad day, but i think we all accepted it well. It was a privaledge to know him, that i was able to meet him. He made me laugh and said lots of crazy things and was so kind, he had a really warm heart.  Zio Nino, conoscerti è stato un grande piacere, riposa in pace <3

Other brighter topics, a dog came to my school and found drugs. it was like a big deal i guess. it was interesting. Well i guess thats not a brighter topic, but its better? xD

Visit from Uncle
the week before camp, my uncle came to visit, my uncle who lives in germany. he came from friday 27th-30th may. the first day he helped me send off like 6 packages of clothes. whew! thats a lot of stuff! dont know how i would get home if i didnt send some stuff home!

Then we went to torino, he fell in love with it. He said it was one of the most beautiful cities ever and he could live there. haha. he really couldnt beleive that north and south italy could be this different. he has come to italy many times, but always around napoli and rome. he came here to north italy and was in shock. (torino was about an hour and ten minutes away). I personally think torino is also really beautifulk, i mea its like a royal city, all the emperial looking buildings because its where the royalty was.

The next day we went to the islands in a famous lake which is 40 minutes north of my house. There was also royalty on these islands, they were so beautiful!

Isola Bella

Host mom and my uncle on Isola Bella

the last day milan. about one hour give or take. we walked around, saw all the sights, all the churches etc.b ut i felt bad because there was a big pep rally thing for soccer and we couldnt go on top of the duomo, neither could we go in. and we couldnt go in the theater. thats like 3 big things we couldnt do! i felt so bad that he couldnt see them! anyways, at the end of the day i took him to this amazing pizza place. Its fried pizza. he was in heaven haha its seriously the best pizza in the world. we saw a couple fighting, and the girl threw her soda all over the dude and then they left the moment the pizza was brought to their table. and then they continued the fight outside. she started going at him. it was interesting...
anyways, then my uncle had to go back to germany and continue working on monday. He enjoyed north italy a lot, and is definitly gonna come back. he still doesnt believe how the north and south of this one small country could be so different.

Arianna, host mom, me, Valeria, host dad, my uncle . a Big dinner together!

a lot of other things have been happening, but my mind is really cloudy right now. I guess i'll write more later and put the pictures up later too. I just wanted to get this up like in time for my 9 months date here.

The weather has been really crappy. Actually there have been storms on and off and there's no internet at my house. This is a BIG deal, because i have to do my homework online for my course and it's frustrating me, but whatever. I decieded i hate storms now, officially. I used to think they were fun and cool... (when on exchange, NEVER make plans to do something, becuase you probably wont, and you cant plan your exchange. you just go along with it. along with the flow. Actually being able to keep up with a blog is hard enough. just, take my advice, dont plan anything. Exchange will take you where it takes you and theres no way of kowing where it will take you and what will happen.) right now im using the computer and internet in the office of my host parents work. It's chill.


FINALLY! I hate italian school with a burning passion. I cant believe i even survived a whole school year here. I know i dont really do a lot of work like all the other students. but like, 1. teachers just lecture and lecture and lecture. 2. no films no activites no nothing.3. i have no friends. so yeah it's a bit awkward like, if your an italian, yeah i get you have lots of work!!! at least youre not like sitting there alone..
Being an exchange student is lonely. I'm really happy summer is here so i dont have to sit in class by myself anymore. (another thing i dont like about italy, that people stay in their groups whole life, italians are really friendly and talk and are loud, it's all true! but they arent very open about their friend groups, at least from MY experience. like they talk to you, but it's not like you're REALLY friends.) so yeah, REALLY HAPPY! LIBERTA!!!!

I still cant believe it. 9 months... I dont want to go home. I miss my stuff, but i love it here! It's running out, There's not enough time!!

 xoxo rachael

p.s. I know this is a crap post, i'll rite more later when my internet gets fixed at home. My pictures are at home.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

8 months and Italianization

It's been just past 8 months here. In beautiful Italy. Where everywhere you go, there's old buildings and something ancient. Something magical with a little bit of story behind it.

We are 80% through. Only 20% more to go.. I can't even explain how i feel. I had been told before, that at this point i would feel torn. Between wanting to go back home, and how i would love this place so much.. Yeah i guess a little bit of that is true, but i didnt really imagine how it would feel. Obviously i miss things about America, driving, school, family, friends, my bed. But I've created a life here, it's so hard to think about the fact that i've been living here for 8 months, with a new life, and just like that, in a 10 hour flight in 2 months i will be back in America, back to my "normal" life. I don't know how im going to go through that, i dont know how I'm going to just drop everything here, end it. When i first signed up for this year i knew it would be a year, of learning, a language, a culture, meeting new people and learning so much more about the world. I had never thought out completely what would happen, how i would feel, and how life would lead me up to here, how it would turn out. I knew i loved Italy, but being here i didnt know that i would fall in love with Italy. It's my home. So yes, i am torn. I miss some things, but this is where my life is now, i dont want to leave, and i know leaving here will be one of the hardest things i will ever have to do.

My first 5 months were really quite difficult, but i learned a lot, and i became really independent. I felt like i had no one, and i did everything on my own. I was given freedom, and no one questioned me with anything i did. I just had to take care of myself. I guess i hadnt really been living the culture, i just grew as a person.

Now, with my second (absolutly amazing, and to whom i absolutly owe everything to. they saved me and they provide for me and i know they are always there for me and i love them so much!) i've been so much more immersed in the culture. I feel so loved and an actual part of this family. Now i do so many things italians do, and i have to say it's really weird. If i looked back at myself being who i am now and seeing the things i do, i would be a little weirded out.
I've adjusted so well to this culture. Even in the beginning, i was never shocked by the culture, i eased right into it. I dont know why i didnt experience the culture shock, but i know im going to experience the culture shock RETURNING to America, which is strange..

Italian things:
I say things that italians say, things that in english makes no sense, but i just say it. (can't think of examples right now)
I bike around my village, in italy everyone bikes, i think its kind of cute
I use my hands when i speak, which i have to admit when i do, i feel very italian xD
I blow my nose like im an elephant, and it's absolutly disgusting.(i think its because of my horrible allergies here in italy) I will probably have to change that habit when I get back to America.
I walk around the house wearing slippers
I eat fries (and pretty much everything else) with mayonaise. Which in the beginning i thought was pretty nasty and i missed barbeque sauce, but now i think its really good and it's kind of grown on me.

BUT one italian thing i will NEVER do, is use the bide. No. Not going there.

I am forgetting english.
This worries me a little bit considering when i get back to America i will have to take the SATs ( a major exam for college entrance). Starting i think about 3 months ago, i started writing in my journal in italian, completly in italian. I'm speaking italian everyday all the time, I've just loss the use of needing to speak english, or write it, using it at all in general really. I think in italian, and english words just havent been coming to me. My italian friends and host family correct me sometimes with my english and it's actually really quite embarassing. It feels like i dont even know my own langauge anymore. I know thats not true, but it's just really kind of sad to forget some of even just YOUR own language. My vocabulary in italian has grown a lot, and is continuing to grow. Meanwhile my spelling and vocabulary, and grammar in english is getting worse.. I've forgotten many words, forgotten how to spell, or sometimes i spell with italian pronunciation, and correct myself, or when i try to read something in english i read it out with an italian pronunciation and wonder why it doesnt make sense until i give it more time and correct myself or someone else helps me. The other day when i was in the train returning home, i said : "I've never arriven from this direction" i dont know about you but that sounds right to me. But i was told i was wrong, it's i've never arrived from this direction. You tell me. But either way that's still embarassing. At least we can look at one posotive thing, one thing on the bright side. My italian is improving. Good. That's all. In the beginning i was forgetting my english while not learning italian. thats just a negative and a negative. at least if i lose some english i gain something else. I just hope when i return, giving it a little time my english will come back to me. Or not just hope, i NEED it to come back to me, SATs are on the line.. xD

ok, peace for now.
ciao ciao
a presto

xoxo Rachael

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Long time no post.

It's been awhile.. I think I've just been so caught up with life here. I'm so happy with my family! theyve taken me everywhere and provide me with everything, and helped me learn so much more about this country, this culture. I've begun speaking with my hands, and walking around the house with slippers like an italian, I've begun to eat fruit after meals, and so many other things! I'm soooo grateful i am with this family now. I feel like im living the full on italian expereince with them. And i love it! i never want to leave!

My italian is coming along pretty well, though im still really dissappointed that my first family always spoke only english to me, and i was hardly ever able to go to italian class. Like my italian should be WAYYYYY better than it is now, but i guess it's ok. Like now Everyday is italian(well its been like this for a long time, but i forgot to mention it). Before in the beginning with this family, I could speak at home, but i still wouldnt speak it with people at school, i guess because we started speaking in english at school, and so i wasnt comfortable speaking italian with them. But since i have been with this family, i have always been able to speak only italian when i go out and do things, or around in the house or with the family in general.

But now im speaking in italian all the time. At school, home, around. Speaking with my hands now. And i've recently been getting a lot of comments on my vocabulary, which has been making me real happy :) I also think study/translating my entire book of science has helped me. Ive been studying A LOT recently, and i think its helped me learn a lot of random terms, and also a lot of difficult terms and terms that maybe arent used so often. so im really proud of myself for that :)
Whats up been up?

Went to Lago D'Orta  few weeks ago:

Apparently its really famous, there were quite a few people there!

Oh and we ate the best gelato in the world, everytime i eat gelato reminds me even more why i love italy. good food. good gelato. gusto! xD

This is a picture of the lake. Isnt it beautiful? It's actually the prettiest lake I've ever seen. My host sister told me that when it gets warmer, we'll go there to swim or in italian (faremmo bagno). I usually don't swim in any body of water other than a pool, i know I'm weird. But this year, just becuase I'm in italy, im going to swim, and im REALLY EXCITED! I mean who wouldnt be? I'm in Italy! and look how pretty it is!

United States, Norway, Bolivia =)

I also went to Torino within the past month, i met with two other girls of intercultura, from Norway, and Bolivia. It was really nice to see other exchange students. Being in Novara (A province newer to afs) we are only 2, and its sometimes lonely. Like obviously i have my family, but to have other exchange students is awesome. Sometimes i envy the other guys like in Ivrea or Torino, where theres like more than 10 of them and they are eachothers best friends. I kind of wish i had that sometimes, because it's so much easier to get along with other exchange students, and on the other hand, here where i live, being one of only two, it's really hard to make friends!

Anyways, we had a lot of fun, we shopped, they complimented me on my italian (knowing 3 months ago i couldnt say anything) and talked, talked about all of our problems, doesnt matter what country we are from, where we live in italy, we all have the same problems and are going through the same things. We're like always there for each other :)

Then there was Vacation, Vacanze. for easter! it's called Pasqua. and also in Italy, the day after easter, the monday is called pasquetta. it's also celebrated here. So no work until tuesday! i had break from april 20th until may 1st. I had an abnormally long break, which was awesome!

What did I do during break?

FLORENCE! The city where i think the pinocchio story originated, and the city where arts, and skin is famous. skin as in leather.. just random facts..

My host mom and I wednesday evening took the train to milan, stayed the night there with one of my host sisters(the train for florence was really early the next morning). Thursday we took off! took a massive fancy fast train to florence, and the tourism began. Our hotel was perfectly in the center, and we were able to walk around everywhere, it was amazing! Florence is seriously one of the most beautiful cities in Italy, Second to Rome. Rome will always be magical. but Florence is really interesting, a different kind of interesting. Its famous for the renaissance, and the feeling of this city was different. it's just a different kind of magic from Rome. I dont know how to word it though.. either way Florence was magical :)

Ponte Vecchio. Old Bridge

Since Florence is famous for the renaissance and the Arts, art is EVERYWHERE. People on the streets paint giant famous masterpieces.

This is a view of Florence from the top of the tower which we climbed. over 400 steps. It was tallllll

me, host sister vale, host mom

In the Garden. Nel Giardino

The famous Duomo and Tower.

Love locks. A major Tourist thing. But i thought it was pretty cute. They are absolutly everywhere in Florence
Oh yeah, and in Florence, there's amazing food. I had my host sister choose my food for me everytime we went out, it was always amazing. just saying, since im like obsessed with food. Oh and there's amazing gelato there too! We went to one place called vivoli. It used to be the best gelato place in all of italy a few years ago, now i dont know. but still, it's pretty good. If you go, you should all go there and buy all the ice cream you can eat. 
Host grandma, uncle, cousins, dad, sisters, mom everyone :)

We came back Saturday, right before Pasqua. Sunday morning, Easter day, we got ready and family came over to our house for a massive lunch. We had the whole family from my host moms side of the family over, and we had about 4 or 5 rounds. we all got fat xD Then on top of that, there's the colombo. It's a sweet dessert thing for only easter. It was kind of like the special dessert only for christmas, but in a different shape. It was weird, but good! Then later in the evening, we didnt eat dinner, because we were so full, instead we ate chocolate bunnies and eggs! Here in Italy, they have chocolate everywhere, and especially giant eggs for easter. i didnt eat one of the GIANT GIANT ones, but i had one, and it was sooo gooood.

My chocolate bunny is the one on the right with the white collar :)

Have you ever seen a egg this big? Woww

The next day was Pasquetta (i dont know the translation because it doesn't really exist in america, but the monday after easter) and my family and i went up to the mountains to the grandparents house. Everyone was there, except this time everyone on my host dads side of the family. My host grandparents celebrated 50 years together, which was really cute. I have a friend who is also a part of intercultura who lives there. So we met up, it had been about 5 months that we'd seen eachother. Last time was in milan for that one holiday in november, and i couldnt speak italian. Now, she complimented me, and was in awe. Everyone's in awe, everyone who spoke with me when i was with the first family, and spoke with me now. they see the change. i speak completly normal now. Thanks to my new family, i love them so much! they practically worked magic on me :P
On the top of a really tall bridge.

In the village eating some random food only made in
this town in all of italy. With sofiane! From canada.
There were still a few days of break, so i went to Milan and stayed with my sister. I went out and met up with one of my Intercultura friends whom I hadnt seen for 8 months, or since rome. So we hung out and caught up on a lot of stuff, it was really great to see him!
We also ate a lot, i dont know why, but everytime im in Milan(where all these restaurants of diverse food/cultures exist, which is a thing i miss about america. becuase here in italy, most food is all.. italian.)i have this need to eat a lot, like eveyrthing. We ate japanese one night. and the next day the best pizza in the entire world, fried pizza :) oh yeahhhh
I also went to Genova for a day trip. It was this big Intercultura event for the people of my regione, Aosta, and Liguria. We were all invited to go and see the Aquarium. I had already been to Genova 3 years ago, and had already seen the Aquarium, but i went to see one of my best friends Lauren who lives there. But her region Liguria, is really stupid(like in terms of intercultura) and shes never allowed to leave that region. So i went to go see her! Practically one of the only times i'd be able to see her here in Italy.

Genova is really pretty, prettier than i remembered it to be(i had been there before 3 years ago)

Australia. america. america(me) turkey, america, australia, america. and sideways dude, denmark.
  It was really nice to see Lauren :)

Perfect ending to break/Vacanze

Monday, April 4, 2011

Bologna and other AFSers :)

Me and my host mom on top of duomo
Today's monday. a week from this past weekend, i guess about 10 days ago, my fam and i went to Bologna. Friday right after school i went home and ate and my host mom and i were on our way (by train and only train) to bologna. We took the train from ghemme(my new village, which by the way i love, for some reason that no one understands haha) to novara, novara to milan. There we had about 2 hours until our massive fast train from milan to bologna goes(actually the end of the line goes to salerno, all the way near napoli!) Also here in milan my host sister Vale met with us. but she waas finishing up school stuff when we arrived, so we went around centro and ate panzerotti, the famous folded pizza thingies. they are amazing, heaven in my mouth.. :)

went on the top of duomo(i go to milan a lot, been to centro a lot, but never been to the top before) and it was beautiful! took lots of pics(which i will put up hopefully tomorrow) Took lots of pictures! and it was absolutely a beautiful day!

Me and other Seattlite
Little did i know it was the week of an exchange week for a post near milan. one of my fellow Seattle friends also through afs(who now lives in rome for the exchange) was there for his exchange week(remember mine was in sardegna) and he happened to be on the top of duomo that same hour that same day(the exchange weeks have programs of activities to do everyday of that week) and we ran into each other! it was rreally good to catch up and itt was really cool to just run into someone like that that i know from seattle! what a coincidence!

Rushed back to the station, met my sister, took the train. I slept.. i love sleep. italy makes me tired. Got to Bologna, it was about 6 in the afternoon. walked around a bit(beautiful city!) found the hot and washed up. out and met with my host dad(thereason we went to bologna is because my host dad has a business meeting type thing there. and my family decided it'd be a awesome idea to go since also they havent ever seen or been to bologna!

Had dinner(also with other people who work in the same field as my host dad, as far as im aware. but they are like from norway. but they live in italy, and they work here. i dont know it sort of confuses me, i just go with it) and we went to this restaurant, and i ate lasagne. but not normal lasagne, BOLOGNA lasagne! bologna is famous for its meat, and the lasagne was the best lasagne ive ever had! (oh and the restaurant had a hole in the floor, covered with glass. and through it you could see ruins of ancient italy under, nothing big but still. EVERTHING IS ANCIENT AND BEAUTIFUL IN ITALY!) its especially interesting to me since im a hsitory freak. but yeah this gives another point. these ruins are justn everywhere like its normal.
aka good night, good dinner, bologna is awesome.
Walked back home, the streets were live with university students(bologna is also famous and full of universities, i think i want to come back here for university) It was relly lively and lights everywhere :)

i think we would have stayed out but we were all dead tired. went back to the hotel and i immediatly fell asleep.
The next day, out and about. saw all the tourist sites, checked everything off our list! wandered the street markets(which are everywhere in italy, and are seriously the best things ever) and the markets in bologna are the best ive ever seen and been to. like seriously everything was so cheap... wooo shopping!

 <-------------- two famous towers, most famous thing in bologna. the one more to the left is crooked if you cant tell.. I think its famous for that xD

Me and my host sister Vale at the towers

After lunch, I met up with one of my friends. I have an american friend(the only other chinese american) who is now living in bologna. I got to meet up with her and that was really fun! (and another afser who i hadnt met before, a girl from finland) we wandered the streets, and caught up, and well really not much else becuase we had so little time, like one hour or an hour and a half. But it was just really nice to see her. Basically This weekend was another really cool weekend with my host fam :) i love them so much! they take me to see all these things, we get a long so well, they know i enjoy history and travelling. I dont know im just so happy with them! i like being with them, i like doing things with them. I'm so grateful im with this family now.

Seeing my seattle friend on the top of duomo, and being able to meet up with my friend in bologna was just icing on the cake :)

Prima Vera. 150 anniversario Unità di Italia!

So two weeks ago, It was the 150th anniversary of Italy. UNITED Italy that is. (All the different parts were not together, the north used to be under austrian power, and the south under spanish) Italy is like one of the oldest countries ever, or the area, you could seriously find ruins if you dig a hole anywhere.(It's apparently difficult to build new stuff because if you dig and find something, which they almost always do, you have to stop, youre not allowed to destroy it and build any further) but Italy the country itself is actually really young, WE celebrated 150 years! so we didnt have school thursday, and for my school we didnt have it friday either because, my school doesnt have school saturday. Make sense. In my regione, the main city is Torino, which was the first capital of Italy. Soooo In Torino there was a BIG festa! fireworks and everything in the streets from like 10pm until 3 in the morning. But i couldnt go because it was a bit far, and it rained so.. since its a party in the streets.. idk. Just saying, think thats a bit interesting though, since its in my region. haha

Car made and desgined just for this occasion. saw in in a shoe store at mantova
Most of my schoolmates went to the disco since there wasnt any school. I instead went to a small concert, My friends host brother is in a band, and him and his friends are all music people. so we went to their small band concert thing. It was pretty chill

Anyways, point is, Italy is 150 years old now! And there are Italian flags everywhere! Now is the time where theres the most italian pride like ever everywhere. And now is also the time (for a number of people) to protest. my friend explained to me a group that dont want italy to be united, they go around and protest how different region should be apart, or how at least the south and north should be divided, as far as i understand. The south and north really dont like each other, its like a sort of competion i think. (The cultures and everything are SO different! I still wont get over how different my experience in sardegna was, for only one week there, verses my life here. ) But yeah they protest in this period on purpose, becuase they dont support it being united.

MANTOVA(march 17th-18th)

Thursday (since we didnt have school, haha! only awesome thing about my school!) my family and i(one of my sisters Ari, because the other had to stay in milan to study) left for mantova and sabbionetta. These two places near each other in lombardia, like 2 hours away from where I live. We went for a day in sabbionetta, and the evening and next day in mantova. Both are REALLY PRETTY! .(mantova, where romeo in romeo and juliet was banished.) we saw a castle and palaces, and there is this one room with the most beautiful painting ive ever seen! it was on the ceilling, with cupids and like the heavens(i think it was gods looking over, i dont remember)looking over. I wanted to take pictures but we had to turn everything off when we went in :(

This is a picture of the painting, but i had to get it off the internet lol
Center of Mantova

Typical cakes of Mantova
Went back home friday night, stopped in milan to get my other sister vale, and we ate dinner there, the BEST PIZZA IN THE WORLD, then returned home. On this trip i saw so many things that were history and beautiful. Trips like this really make me fall in love with italy so much more. every where you go, everything is old, and beautiful

VERONA ( march 19th-20th)
Following day, saturday i went to verona. I went to visit one of my friends who went to Seattle last year on exchange, she is an italian from verona. Anyways My host mommy took me to the station at novara(main city of local chapter) and then i took the train to verona. My friend was in school(yeah thats right, were in italy, saturday school. its funnn haha.. well i can only imagine cuz in this case, my school is awesome.) so her mom met me at the station and she drove me around. She showed me some of the city. Then we met my friend back at their house. Had a yummy lunch, and hit the town. My friend lives right in the center of Verona, so we walked around, they know i like archaeology, so they showed me the archaeology museum. actually theres a lot of ruins in verona. theres the Arena

There's stuff in the Arena because they were preparing for a concert
The ruins are seriously everywhere. Theres like random holes in the ground just so you can look down and see the ruins. It's actually really fascinating, to think about how old this place really is, and how you can just look down beneath you and see these ancient artifacts of the past. how often do you get a chance to just wander the streets and look down and see that?! Maybe its just abnormally interesting for me because i want to be an archaeologist xD Anyways. I actually went to see Juliets house, like in the movie Letters to Juliet, and took pictures of the famous statue and the love writing everywhere, I waited in line like all the other tourists and I TOUCHED JULIETS BOSOM! hahahhah. so yeah
Verona is sooo pretty! this was basically one of the best weekends ever! Cute trip with my family to mantova, and the next day went to visit one of my friends :) i got to see a lot of things and it was a beautiful weekend! the weather was absolutly perfect!
View from the top of a hill where there is an austrian castle. View of all of Verona :)

Ciaoo Rachael

A presto

Thursday, March 31, 2011


Some people dont understand America. They dont understand that it seriously is like the world's largest melting pot. Like here, or all around the world I'm pretty sure people are aware that America is diverse, but they cant really get it in their head, or picture it. There are people from every country around the world, people of mixed races. It's a diverse country! That's what makes us America.

It's really strange and awkward for me, because in Italy, everything is Italian. I mean obviously, but very very italian, only italian. Only Italians food, people, culture, everything. I guess thats one of the biggest differences for me. Where I live in america, people of all races are accepted for the most part. But here, the culture is so strong in Italian-ness, that they view even people who are asian or african, but were born and raised in italy, who know everything only to be italian, as foreigners. they dont see them as italian.

People think America is one race, i guess it is. But Americans are made of all races mixed together. When i walk around, people look and stare at me, badly. Like as if im another one of the immigraters that Italians all seem to hate. Some people dont believe I'm American, as if its impossible. Like they dont realize that America is made of so many different cultures, that being american means you life the american life, the culture, but your roots are always something different.

No one questions other Americans, because they look normal, caucasion, what "Americans" are thought to be. But then they question me. I bet if you ask the other americans, they might not know their roots because their families came from wherever they came from a long long long time ago, or they might say that they are part norwegian, or part italian, or polish, or swedish, or french, the only reason no one asks though is because they are caucasion and look like a typical american, but Americans can be chinese, or indian, or ethiopian, algerian, taiwanese, japanese, columbian, mexican, and canadian too. you name it. We seriously are from all over the world, and we are still American.

I dont understand why people dont understand this. I know I'm repeating a lot, but does this make sense? or am i just rambling on.. I'm really cranky. Main point: People dont believe I am american, they think being chinese american(What i am) is somehow different from any other american. But really, all Americans are mixtures, i dont see how its any different. Some people are really close minded. It's just really difficult for me to be here, because no one believes me, or if they do, they think its still somehow different, like my life isnt really an american culture. Idk, in my opinion i think they see me as like a foreigner in my own country. Maybe they think like i belong in china. Like, i dont know why I'm just noticing all this now. I guess it's because i thought people didnt talk to me in the beginning because i didnt speak italian. ok fair enough. but now i speak it, and people still dont talk to me. Yes a few people started to talk to me more, but the rest, nope. I guess i thought that after i would be able to speak italian, life would magically get better, and id be considered more normal here. But i guess i will always be looked at as a foreigner here, but not just any other foreigner like an exchange student(italians for the most part love exchange students and are always really curious) but a chinese one. and Italians really dont like chinese or africans.

p.s. some people think all asians are only chinese......
oh and one time i was just out and about, and someone came up to me and said ni hao, and pulled their eyes back at me like making fun of asians, and then my friend(italian) established that im american. and THEN he apologized.. that's just not right. It's really awkward being a chinese american in a country that hates chinese but loves americans. Especially when i LOOK chinese. so for all the people that dont know me, for all they know i am chinese, so i feel like they hate me a lot more.

Life is great.. Italy has made me a lot more independent, but a lot more self conscious and in a difficult position with who I am, conflicted. I've Never been uncomfortable in my own skin before. I guess obstacles like this make you stronger! However. I am Chinese American. Deal with it. Even though obviously not everyone in italy is like this, it's just a lot more of this behavior than in America. obviously.. Anyways, I hate prejudices, and I hate racism. Now i kind of miss America.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

6 mesi. Sardegna. Carnevale

Heyyy so It's six months today. in italy. wowwww!!! only 4 more months left :(
So today i just got back from Sardegna. I went for my exchange week. and I was also there during carnival. Today has been a really busy day, and i actually have to go. But I will update and write lots more sometime within the next 3 days. I'll put up pics and write about sardegna and stuff.  :)

thanks readers! check back here sunday!


Ok. Life. Life in Italy, i guess everyday is the same, or school days at least. days go by, I've established a normal routine. Actually it ws sort of established right away with the new family. WOO!! two months with them :) sono contenta

Tonight I went out to dinner with a girl who will go on exchange next year, to argentina. She's from Novara province. I met with her because my host mom is an afs volunteer, and she wanted to meet with me. It was really cool that someone wanted to meet me, i dont know why but it just was. anyways i explained to her things that i never really thought to write here before. or maybe i did write(seeing as i write a lot) and forgot and its somewhere wayyyy down low in my old posts idk. buttt here it is:

>going on exchange, Is the most difficult challenge ever. Things you once thought were once so simple, everyday things have become some of the biggest challenges. like i used to think going to school was normal. Yeah i know in america i had life good, walking across the street. but even if i didnt have that, normally youd drive ten minutes at maximum to go to school. Thats just how the school system is in america, they are all the same and theres one in like every town. But in italy, since there are diffiernet kinds of schools, you have to travel to go to the kind of school you want to go to, and in italy everything is like small villages. (like my first family, was in a forest in a village of 3,900 people give or take. and this new family in GHEMME famous for wine, has about the same number of people) anyways here in italy every morning i have to take the bus at 6:55 in the morning just so that i can get to school on time. But get this, even though school starts at 8, i get there at 7:20 or sometimes 7:16 and i have to wait outside until it opens at 7:30. then i wait inside where its warm. I have to do this because its the only bus that goes to the town of my school in the morning, the next bus that goes there is like 1 in the afternoon and thats when i finish school.. But the point is, life is just different here. The culture. like i wrote before in my 5months post, there are things that are normal, the same, yeah theres cars, schools etc. but the culture. the way its done or gone about. its so weird for me to have to do this in the morning every day.. but whatever, its become routine.
> another big thing was making friends. I guess i used to take having friends for granted. but now i really miss my friends, and here its so hard to make friends. Only because the school system is a little bit different, or just, everything in general. like becuase everyone lives in small little towns, generally theyve lived there their whole lives. soooo they have their own little group of their own village friends. then at school since in high school you stay in the same class with the same group for all 5 years of high school, they already have their groups established. its so hard to break into it. its hard to make friends :\

Overall I just told this girl that When you go on exchange, its the most difficult experience of your life. But you will grow so much. You will always be tired, because everything is always new, there is something new everyday. And you will be tired from having to focus on trying to understand and listen to the language. (like me, i fall asleep everytime we watch a movie in all italian with no subtitles or anything) Things that were once simple, might not be anymore. A culture shock will hit you, maybe not right away, but it will. You will miss things you never thought you would. Stupid little things might point out to you. And you will have to try your hardest, so hard to do everything. To understand, speak, make friends, everything, because you have to start and establish your own life
(yeah a lot of that is actually repeated.. my bad.. and some of that stuff i listed i didnt tell the girl.. i guess i forgot but i hope shes reading this :) )

in conclusion of 6 months: BOOOOOOOOOOOOOO only 4 months left :'(

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La settimana di scambio(the exchange week) in SARDEGNA!! (sardenia)

I left for Sardegna Wednesday morning, March 2nd. Arrived in Cagliari, the main city of Sardegna. I was the only one for the exchange week, but it was all good because i got to hangout with all the other exchange students of Sardegna.

At first I didnt want to go, like i really wanted to participate in the exchange week, but there weren't many other posts left. A lot of people were like omg sardegna! you get to go there! yeah it was really pretty, i was excited for a week of a whole new culture(p.s. in sardegna they consider themselves sardo, not italian, and they speak another language, which i learned some words of the language. called "Sardo" obviously haha) I had originally looked into doing exchange week in puglia, or a place near napoli, becuase then id be able to see pompei. Im a really big history freak.

I dont know, Sardegna turned out to be a lot better than I thought it would be. I honestly don't really enjoy beaches much, or the sun for that fact, like ill only stand being in the sun if its like worth it, like for example if i go to Egypt and its burning hot, but its ok cuz im seeing something awesome.

Anyways, I didn't think Sardegna would suck, i thought itd be pretty, and interesting because there was lots of stuff to do on the program(but initially didnt like the idea of sardegna at all because what its mostly famous for is beaches..)

I get there and EVERYONE is so nice! We did see some beaches, which were really pretty, and they took me to see some historical things, and Carnival was amazing. It was FESTA FESTA FESTA always! carnival was a big famous thing in the city i stayed at. Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday.

The first few days I went to school with my host sister in Oristano. and we went to see the Nuraghi, ancient buildings, like villages:

one of them, they are all over sardegna, theyre famous in sardegna. oh, and sheep and cacti are everywhere too

Inside a nuraghi
Throughout the week we were also taken to see the beach and other archaeological sites, the beaches were beautiful!!! the weather, sometimes it was REALLY hot because the sun was almost always out, only except for that one day we went to see the nuraghi (pic above) but we couldn't swim because sometimes there was wind, and when theres wind, its freezing. It was really annoying because you would be wearing a jacket when theres wind, then when it goes away it was really hot, then wind would come back. So the whole day youd be taking your jacket on and off.

Archaeological site: Tharros :) took pics but it wont let me put it here right now.. dont know why maybe later. but you can google it!

Then CARNIVAL! Sardegna was the only regione that did a camp for carnival, i guess because its such a big deal there. So there was a camp in Terrabla (I stayed in the city of Oristano about 20 minutres away by car) where all the ragazzi of sardegna stayed.Iit was one week long, the same week I was there. So Saturday night, there was a festa of intercultura, we all decided to go (took a lot of effort, because the two girls of Oristano should have gone to the camp, but they stayed with me, but Oristano Intercultura was stupid and made it difficult for us to go. but we managed!)

There I got to see all the other ragazzi of intercultura of Sardegna! it was awesome! I never get to see other exchange students! because in my local chapter its only me and the australian girl Brittany. (which by the way, since i changed families, AND she changed families, we now live 10 minutes away bar car. its friggin awesome! ) But it was so fun to see everyone else! and since its been past 5 months, it was cool because we were speaking to each other in italian, not english this time :) haha I actually had one friend from Russia who lost her english really bad because in Sardegna no one speaks english. only Italian and Sardo. (paragraph on language later) Anyways, Its just always really fun when you are with other exchange students, always! like i mentioned before, you just have a bond, and you all get along so well, i love it! oh, and I got to see my other american friends, and one of my friends who is also from seattle :) from all of United States, there are 60 of us in Italy now, for the year program. Im not sure about 6 months.. more came. and just from Seattle, we are 6.

Carneval sunday, we saw the parade of the SARTIGLIA:

It was really cool! and really pretty! I dont know but im really into like everything "typical" and historical. Like i feel the need to take a picture of every single thing typical, and when i chose my exchange week, i saw this and immediatly wanted it because it had "The Sartiglia". Anyways, there are like 120 horses and horse riders all masked, and women and children dressed up.

One of the many different groups of masked men. They decorate the horses too.
The traditional clothing and costumes

This design on these horses are of the flag of Sardenia (Bandierra di Sardegna)

I didnt really understand the significance of this dude, but hee's the main dude and waves the green flower stick in the shape of a cross.
So what do these people do? there is like a whole street covered in dirt, and hay (sort of a problem for me because im allergic to hay and horses.. i died a little bit, but i didnt touch anything :) ) and in the middle between two trees a string with a silver star hangs. the star has a hole, and the masked men on the horses have to run through the course with a sword like stick. I forgot the name. like lancing.. lancing stick? lancing sword? So they have to run through on the horse through the whole street and charge at the star, and get the sword through the hole in the star. its a game! they do this over and over again for many many of the masked men. I don't think all of them go.. i didnt count. I couldnt get good pictures of it because i sat all the way at the top of the bleachers, but you can google "sartiglia". Then later in the evening they do acrobatics on the horses! that event was too crowded i couldn't go to see it, but i watched it on the screen, it looks like this:

Yeah they do this while the horses are running.. thats right

So this is what happens during the day. and all day long there are people running around in their costumes, normally more children during the day. Then at night there in the center was a band that played traditional sardenian music, and everyone gathered around in the center piazza to dance! I took a video but i cant put it here. Then in sardegna, particularly oristano, There is a typical wine called Vernacia. People everywhere at night drinking it, there were actually a lot of drunk people, but it was ok. We tried some of it, for the "culture", it was good. But at night just the vernacia, costumes, and dancing! It doesn't sound like much, but the city was so alive! I dont know how to explain how fun it was!

It was like this for three days, and no school. :)

I dont know, Maybe it doesnt sound like much, maybe it sounds like a lot, but it was so fun! and i found that people in sardegna(or at least in my opinion) are so much friendlier! in the one week i was in sardegna, i went out with italians more than i had in m entire 5 months here.. thats so sad. but maybe not because of the culture, but because of my first family, where i couldnt really go out.. but the point is they were really friendly.
(i stayed 8 days, not one week, because from sardegna, there werent any planes flying out until the next day)

Sardegna Culture: Its so different. They speak Sardo. Everyone seems to be more open, so much more friendly. Their accent is stronger, much like the italian i imagined all italians would speak like.They are more laid back. And they smoke, A LOT! The culture in sardegna is considered south, yet sardegna is completly different from the rest of italy.

But the culture there, it's a lot more like how i imaged typical italy, its strange. The weather, the people, the behavior of people, everything!

Language: Like i was saying before, It was really cool that when i was with all the other exchange students, we spoke with eachother in italian. In sardegna, i was always really tired, even more than i am with this new family(with this family i speak only italian, and im always tired) because nooo one in sardegna speaks english! I as more tiredf than normal becuase normally at school or something, i have at least a little of english in my everyday life! i know its not good, but thats just how it is. and so in sardegna, nothing.. everyday, all the time, italian. and sardo.. Soooooo During this week, My vocabulary might not have grown, but i learned to understand better, i understood before, but now i understand even when people talk faster, and with accents(other exchange students speaking italian) and i can speak more fluidly, i dont have to think so much now when i speak, it just comes. but my vocabulary still isnt very good. I want to know everyword in the dictionary! i know its not realistic but its a noble goal xD my friend alice in class(also my table partner) and i are making lists at school of all the random words we can think of. it helps a lot! a lot more than youd think.
so overall, my italian has gotten a lot better, in only one week! lesson learned, being absolutly surrounded with the language, 24/7 seriously helps.

Oh and i learned sardo. Aio=andiamo/dai=let's go/c'mon. eia=si=yeahh
and other words, but they arent very appropriate hahah le parolace!

ok so sardegna was awesome, Though at the same time i was a little bummed for two reasons. I missed out on the big costume party at the discoteca for carnival with my host sisters, they dressed up in really cute funny costumes and everyone else did too! it's like halloween i guess, but the cotumes are crazier! Second reason im bummed, i couldnt be with the other ragazzi of my own regione piemonte for carnival. I dont know, im at a crossing with this one, because im happy i got to be with everyone in sardegna, im happy i went to sardegna, it was beautful! and i learned so much, but i still miss my friends from my own regione(live to far from me but still my own regione) and i wish i could have gone to the carnival in ivrea also. I guess we cant have everything! xD

Everyone from my regione, or almost everyone went to Ivrea for carnival. something typical here, Its the battle of oranges! La Battaglia delle Arance!! so yeah these pictures below are of The carnival in ivrea, the thing everyone from my regione was invited to, and i should have gone to, but instead i went to sardegna! ma vabbé sono conteta che ho scelto per andare in sardegna! :) it was so fun!!

but yeah if im missing anything, ill add more later. peace
p.s. scrivero qualcosa piu in italiano piu tardi quando ho piu tempo