Monday, February 28, 2011

It Ain't a Leap Year. Darn, wanted to have another day in Italy.

Lame title. But its end of February and that's all i could think of.

Life is soooooooooo good.

February Summary:

there was autogestione. i dont think i mentioned it before. but there was like 2 days the second week of february as i recall, where only students teach lessons. it kind of reminded me of school back in america, not that students teach the lessons. but because it was like a fun activity, everyone got to pick what subjects and classes they wanted to go to. just like in america.

Being the only exchange student at my school, i guess thats the reason i dont know. i was asked to teach a lesson on "Slang"
i didnt really feel like i could say no, i figured itd be kind of fun. But for like two weeks i flipped out, really nervous. im kind of a shy person when it comes to having to do soemthing in front of a group of people.

My friends and classmates were really supportive. They helped me, and they were all like excited to sign up for my lesson. I honestly hoped they were the only ones who would choose to sign up for my lesson, because im comfortable around them, and if there is like no one to talk i front of, im not scared.

I had friends come oveR(italian friends) to help me prepare. that sounds seriously retarded, but I had a list of slang words, then they helped me translate it. and make handouts for my lessons
We later found out that like 100 people igned up for it, and that it was full. 100 people is a lot. like, i got really scared. Anyways, we prepared the lesson. And two of my friends fabio and alice(who both speak english really well, and were the ones who helped me transalte) They were SOOOO nice. they made sure one of them was with me for my lesson the first day, and the other with me the second day. so i wouldnt have to be alone. they were both so helpful. so if you guys are reading this, GRAZIE MILLE!!! non potevo farlo senza voi!

The Slang lessons went fairly well, well the first one kind of sucked. There were WAY too many people in the first one, and they were a younger group so i think they were more shy to speak english since maybe they didnt know it as well. im not sure. but the second lesson with alice went much much better :)
and it did help to see some of my friends in my class

Autogestione was fun, well not like really fun actually, for me mostly stressful. but fun considering italian school standards. i hate school. i always have. but italy made me hate it more. just saying.. so basically when we all signed up for what classes we wanted to do, you have everyones name on the list of each class and you write down what clas syou want to do. im a special person.. and my name doesnt exist on the paper. you can look at it as a bad thing, and feel excluded, but i look at it like a magical thing. because since i change classes, i can kind of leave whenever i want, and no one knows where im supposed to be (which class) and like, heck, im not even sure if some teachers know my name. since its never written anywhere. no attendance for me :)
so yeah i got to go to whatever lesson i wanted during autogestione. even if it was "full" because i could just slip in and no one would know. id like to think im invisible and i can do whatever xD lol not really im not that retarded , but i really like that my name isnt on the attendance :)

I ended up following my friends from my main class around, going to lessons that they chose. and we did design and photography, then my lesson the first day. then the second day we did chinese(yeah, thats right, i already knew everything the dude was teaching) and mafia or something, wasnt really sure. then my lesson.
hmmm what else?

in these past rough ten days or so snice i last updated, Things have gotten better. not that it was bad before, but like, things have gotten GOOOOOOODDD!!! :)
My friend Alice had her 18th BDAY PARTY two weekends ago. MASSIVE party! in italy, 18 is THE age to be. like, its when you can drive, drink, and youre a legal adult. like everything at once. but in america its sort of split, driving at age 16, then the adulthoodness at age 18, then drinking at age 21. i think thats kind of stupid,but ok. so yeah, anyways for us in america, its like, yeah big parties for each of those 3 massive years. but in italy, since its everything at once, its friggin massive!

btw. this was my first 18th birthday party in italy. i had been to birthday parties but not 18th birthday parties.

so for her birthday, there was a massive group of people, we all went to dinner together, and had pizza, and after we ALL went to the disco. discos are really common, normal and popular in italy. but the thing about italy, is that events start really late. and its normal to go home at like 4 i think. in america, as far as im concerned, or as far as i know, midnight or 1 is pretty late....
Ok so this is part of my class at dinner.(Alice's Bday)Not everyone is here, and this is only one of the tables at dinner. Im the only one with black hair on the right, turned around obviously because im retarded. But yeah.
but yeah, we danced the night awayy

during dinner i talked a lot more(all my classmates were there too, and others) like, people didnt know i could speak italian, but seriously guys, i can! I hadnt really seen most of my classmates outside of school(my main 4c class) and it was really kind of weird. thigns are different. but i think im making more friends now. Some of them told me they wanted to tal to me from the beginning, but didnt know how to. but now, they know i can speak italian, and we talk :) everything has gotten so magically better with this family. even though i didnt leave novara when i changed families, i didn t change schools, i kind of feel as if i did. Like, everything is so different now. and ive learned so much italian in just one month. in the household now we speak practically only italian all the time. and since ive been able to speak italian, i think im making more friends. and because of my new location, i live closer to my italian friends, so i can actually go out with them. and this family, they dont mind driving me. lately, everything is getting so much better,i know i keep saing that, but really.. Im always invited out now, and i can actually go! te family doesnt mind to drive me. idk its jut reallllyyy gooood. haha my family jokes about how i am too social and i have to choose because i cant do both things xD
anyways, alices birthday party was saturday night about two weeks ago

the following day, sunday. was my host sister VALE'S BDAY. 22.
I woke up "early" like at 10 or 11 to ATTEMPT to make pancakes for her. we had a brunch, an americanized meal! (aw its so cute im always cooking and stuff with this family)
anyways, my pancakes kind of, well acutally, really failled. but my family for some reason liked them. i told them no no, americans would not eat these they are so crappy. and they said since they had never had them before, they dont know how they are really supposed to be, so like this, they were good to them. its funny because they ate all of them.. wow O.0

Monday i went to milan and met with my host sister Vale, and we went to ALL TIME LOW concert together, which was really fun! i love them! but i felt bad because when we returned home she had to continue her project for school. :(

Alex Gaskarth lead vocalist

Me and Vale at the concert
throughout the week, i talked more with my classmates( i think) like, my class is special.. theyre really divided. theyre really groupy.. so i kind of talk to only some of them. and others we dont really even say ciao. and others only ciao. but now i talk with them much more, i think theyre happy they are now able to talk with me, and im really happy im finally learning the language already. jeez, after 5 months, c'mon!!
then this last weekend friday night i went to the movie theater with one of my host sisters and my host mom. we watched some new movie with ann hathaway in it. this is the first full movie ive seen in theaters with this family (as i recall, idk i forget a lot of things) and i actually understood almost all of it! in all italian baby! wooooooo!


Last saturday we went to liguria for the day. We got up early and drove down south. Only about an hour or two car ride. Its like going to canada! but it was crazy because liguria has mountains everywhere. you could be standing at one part and be at the beach, and look over and across the mountains and see the snow. Its crazy!
It was a really nice day, and my family took me
 around a bunch of places. it was sooo pretty!

My host sisters, my host mom and I at the beach
So pretty and colorful!
last saturday night there was another birthday party, a classmate had an 18th birthday party, the class threw her a surprise dinner which was really sweet. :)

sunday was carnivale of ghemme. it was mostly for little kids, running around throwing confetti everywhere, and dressed up in costumes(non c'e carnevale in america) it was really cute. my family said though that this year there really werent as many people like other years. oh well. btu yeah, in ghemme(which is where i now live) for carnival they have giant pots and cook a mixture of lots of beans and other stuff that im not really quite sure what, but everyone lines up to get some. i tried it, it was really gooood.

NOW. its monday. monday night. last day of february. its been short over a month with this new family. i think one week over a month. i speak and understand italian so much better now. Im really satisfied with everything. oh, except for the fact that im now fat.
i dont know, i look back and think about the times i wanted to go home, despite how much i hated the idea of returning back to stupid high school and everything. but now, im so abnormally happy, it isnt enough time. (hence the title of this post) i wish it was leap year, then id have at least one more day here in this beautiful country.

Italy really is the best country. im so in love. cobblestones, the history, the beautiful language. the way of life, people are laid back and just chill out. i love italy.


P.S. Mercoledi 2 di marzo, parto per sardegna. c'e una settimana di scambio, tutti i ragazzi di intercultura che fanno un anno in italia, vanno. ci sono tante settimane che possiamo scegliere, per esempio c'e un posto in udine, rieti, latina, parma, arezzo, livorno, bari, napoli, calabria, taranto, trani, siracusa, marsala, enne, cagliari, oristano etc. ci sono tanti!!
normalmente i ragazzi del sud vengono al nord, e noi del nord andiamo al sud. io ero in ritardo a scegliere la mia settimana di scambio, quindi c'era solo pochi posti. ma quasi tutti nel nord. non volevo andare in qualche parte nel nord, perche, vivo nel nord xD c'era solo un posto nel sud, oristano, sardegna. quindi ho scelto oristano, sardegna. mi piace questo programma tanto, un bel programma, ma non mi piace questa settimana(se non vado per questa settimana, non faccio la settimana di scambio. perche non voglio pagare o andare in un altro posto dove sono gia stata come roma o venezia o milano xD
cmq, non mi piace questa settimana perche, e la settimana di carnevale. volevo stare qui per carnevale, cosi potevo andare ad Ivrea con gli altri ragazzi di intercultura(non ho visto loro per 5 mesi...). ma nooo invece vado in sardegna. si belllooo, pero, ivrea ha un grande carnevale. sono un po triste perche non posso andare ad ivrea, anche a incontrare gli altri ragazzi, i miei amici. anche le mie sorelle vanno in una discoteca, una grande festa solo per carnevale! loro mi hanno invitato, anche abbiamo preparato i vestiti.. :\ ma vabbe. sardegna.bel posto, bel programma, ma non mi piace questa settimana. (le settimane dipende dove vai, la mia è la prima settimana.) il prossimo post metto le foto qui. di ivrea(che cosa avrei visto) e anche di oristano sardegna carnevale(che cosa vedrò). sto scrivendo questo adesso perche parto fra 2 giorni, anche in sardegna forse non ho internet. quindi, il prossimo post è quando torno.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

5 months (5 mesi)

It's been 5 months in italy as of 6 days ago. Its kind of mind blowing, to think that ive actually survived this much time away from home. I dont know, my mind is at a weird place. All i can think of is just, wow. Being here, learning the new culture, it was a lot more different than i imagined it to be. I dont really know how to explain what i imagined, but it really wasnt this. Thats not meant to be a bad thing, its just different.

One might think, why go on exchange? Everywhere else in the world is the same, we all have food, we all have cars, we all have buildings. the world is modernized and its all the same(yes i did have a friend who said this to me once) i guess if you look at it that way it is true. But once you do come here, though it took me some time, you really do experience the culture shock. for me, it didnt really hit like a lightning bolt. But it hit me, though most countries in the world may have similarities like that, i came here and noticed all the small little habits and things about italy, and that italians do, thats what makes them italian. I cant even describe it. I guess if you came here as a tourist(like i did 2 years ago, thats when i fell in love with the country) you think its so pretty and blah blah blah, and you see that there are modern buildings and shops and cars etc. everything normal. But when you actually come and live here, you see it. trust me, it hits you. 

Ive finally settled in, despite the fact I just changed famlies about a month ago. I feel really at home :)
But its not the same as home home, of course. But being away from home all this time really makes you miss stupid little things that used to be so normal, or things you might have even found a little annoying or hated. It's a lot like that saying you never realize what you had until you lose it. But i know i havent lost it, When i return home im excited to see all my family and friends, but itll be really weird. I cant really imagine how itll be at all. I just know i really do miss them. But the overall feeling, of going back home is sort of a blurr, because my experience here is so great i really dont want to leave!

ok, I'm not gonna lie. When i said im blown away at the fact ive survived these past 5 months. It sounds stupid, oh yeah yeah, im going abroad for a year, and yeah its kinda like a vacation. or thats what it may seem. yeah i guess i sort of am taking a year off, but i still do some school work. but thats not the hard part! aside from that.. sorry.. What i mean to say, is that going on exchange really is so much harder than you may think. Many people might think its just a year off, a year to travel. But it's SUCH A CHALLENGE! The emotional roller coaster you go through, is like something youve never experienced before. Ive had some really hard times where all i wanted to do, was be anywhere but here, but realized i finally did just miss home. I was so against missing home because i didnt want to be sad. But I think it was just because I had a lot of problems with my last family. But exchange in general, aside from the family, its the whole idea, of when you are here, nothing is familiar to you. You have to establish youre own life, do everything on your own, and figure it all out on your own. yes you do have a host family, but it really does feel that way. But even though its only been 5 months, i can honstly say i feel like ive grown up a lot. and theres still 5 more months to come!

I dont know, the whole experience is actually really hard to explain, unless youve done the experience. This is why all exchange students, even if youve talked maybe one time, you keep in touch. At camps we have the best time together, even if weve never hung out or talked before, we all can relate and we understand eachother, and the problems were all going through. Its the weirdest strong bond you can imagine(i thinkk..)
hmmm, ok so whatsup been up with me....?
My birthday just passed about 2 weeks ago, My family was realllyyy nice and took me to milan for my birthday, i got to go shopping. Then we went to an indian restaurant, because they remembered that i once said i love and missed international food(not so common in italy, almost all food in italy is italian. i know people who've NEVER had chinese food in their life here in italy. that shocked me...). And it was REALLY GOOD! They got me other presents too, but they gave me headphones during dinner. that sounds little, but i thought it was SOOO cute of them, because they remembered like the first day i was with them, and i pulled out my laptop with my ripped headphones(only one, because my host sister from the last family the 4 year old ripped it off, and the wire hanged off and sometimes shocked me. but i was too low on money to buy another pair xD ). I thought it was so cute they actually remember things i say, and small little things like that! i feel like they actually care about me and listen :) so yeah they got me new headphones :)

This was probably the best way a birthday in italy could have gone with the family. They are the nicest! I had also wanted to do something with my closest friends here, but afs was sort of stupid and forbid us from seeing eachother(because they dont like us speaking english together, so stupid)

Not much else has happened. Normal life goes on, normal days pass on. Italian school really is hell. The buildings are crappy, there are no school sports or clubs(for this reason ive gotten fat, if you ever go on exchange and gain a heck load of weight, dont be sad or surprised. its so normal) you dont change classrooms so you dont get to know anyone more than just your own class, and the teachers dont know how to teach. They only lecture! for this reason i think the marks standards are sort of different. i stated this before, but like good and passing is a 6 out of 10. in america, some people like throw fits if they get lower than 8.... as in a B.  but yeah american teachers like do slideshows, and pictures, and sometimes activities to help explain. here the teachers just sit or stand and lecture. like, its really hard to focus when the lesson is just taught that way... its so boring!

It had been like one week short of 5 months, and i JUST got my school books. Since i follow(or at least try to) subjects, i had to have books. With the other family, I had asked the first month, still nothing, then the second, then the third, then the fourth was like holidays time, and i was by then, reall trying to change families. I didnt feel like i had really established a life there. I felt stuck(also didnt help that i lived in a forest, couldnt really get out, and it was difficult since i am from a big city) so i sort of gave up trying to get books through this family. I hoped my tutors would help me out, or i could get used ones from someone else. But during those past 4 months i had been sharing books with my classmates, most of them are pretty nice(italians are famous for being friendly. yes its true. but since their social system and school system as in the stay in once class part, is different... i find it really hard to break into a group of friends. theyve been with the same group of people all through high school, everything is established. whereas in america you always change, and your friends change, and you make new friends every year). Anyways, in this new family, i got my books. FINALLY! thank goodness i have two older host sisters. i feel like they kind of saved me. they are 21 and 19. The 19 year old went to my school, she even had some of the same teachers i have. But yeah i got her books which was really great. finally.. omg. xD So now after 5 months, i understand the language A LOT MORE and NOW i HAVE the books, so i can legit follow the lessons. I do math, physics, astronomy, and now latin. Though for latin i dont get marks i think... But my host family knows i really want to be an archaeologist, so they are helping me out and suggested i study latin. So now i have 4 classes of Prima, which is first year of high school, equivalent to freshmen. And let me tell you, (excuse my language) Latin is a pain in the ass. I seriously thought italian grammar was difficult, try latin!  but whatever. hopefully it really will help me get the job i want, and maybe itll help me with SATs!  But i come home everyday(since i have like 9 hours of latin a week) and complain, my family always jokes about how i should change what i want to do as a career. its cute :) im so happy with this new family

About the new family:
The family is the mom, dad, and 2 daughters(like i said before), oh and the doggy iara :) i love dogs! (or at least i think thats how you spell her name, but its pronounced like eee-yar-a) My host sisters both attend university in milan. So i only get to see them during the weekends when they come home. During the week, I have school, my host rents work, they work together in dentistry. I come home around lunch time, and my host mom always come homes just to make lunch for me :) its so cute. before i never had lunch.. and then she goes back to work, and i study, sleep or watch tv. i dont know. when they get back We all work together to prepare dinner, its actually really cute. and we have funny conversations during dinner. i think with the other family trhe tv was always on, and we never really talked. but maybe just because the children were young and they liked the tv. But i like that here i get along with my family really well, and i can watch whatever i want on tv(before it was always hogged by the kids) and with this family, we speak in almost only in italian! (language, another paragraph after this) As for my sisters, I'm really grateful to have older sisters. I can relate to them more, they like and want to do the same things as me. we watch tv shows together, paint each others nails, cook and bake together, and we want to travel together and see the same things. They also both can drive, and of course, they have other italian friends(my host sisters are like best friends, so they go out together) and they bring me if i want. Also because honestly to make real good italian friends on our own, especially when youre the new kid, and when you live in a forest and cant go out, its pretty difficult. the first month or two here in italy i was always asked to go out, but i could never go out.. so then everyone stopped asking me to hangout..but now, i live closer to my italian friends so i can actually do something with them. and i have older host sisters who i can go out with too! I'm sooo unbelievably happy with this family.

Me with one of my sisters Ari, out walking around in the center

Cooking with Vale

Making chocolate chip cookies for Intercultura (Novara) dinner we had(which i mention in the last paragraph). This looks weird that im chopping up a giant block of chocolate, but here apparently they dont have chocolate chips like in america, so you gotta do it this way. The chocolate chips still tasted good though :) At the dinner brittany and i both had to make something from our countries. Her cookies failled because she forgot sugar.....................So mine were totally way better xD

Like with this family I actually get to go out EVERY weekend. Before i would have to plan way ahead of time to do things saturday night. Pretty much the only way i could go out late at night(because the family went to bed at like 10 at night, and they wouldnt drive me) is if i took the train to the city where my other exchange student friend lived, and stayed the night at her house. Its fun with her, but because of this i spoke lots of english with her, we were together too much, and i never really intereacted that much with other italians. Because i wasnt really close enough with any italian friends to ask them to drive 30 minutes to get me, thats too much to ask. so this was how it was the first 4 months. There were a few times that i did go out with my italian friends saturday and friday nights(since my school is one of the few rare ones that doesnt have school saturday) but mostly i went to novara with my aussie friend. But yeah, here, now, if i dont have plans of my own, or if i want, i can go out with my host sisters. This way i always have something to do, and im making new friends through them :) and this family actually does a lot, lots of outings, activities, theyre kept busy! i like that! and  i really feel like my life has established here since they recently singed me up for a gym :) (i really need it, in america at minimum 15 hours of sports a week, here nothing) i feel as though my life here is set. like, just because i was signed up for something, its like.. yeah im here. i live here. i have a membership for something! sounds stupid but yeah

Italian language:
So by now, my italian is ok. Like i understand pretty much all conversation. But EVERYONE thinks i cant speak it, nor understand it. But only because i never really speak it. Im so shy and scared because i sound like and idiot. which is another reason im, really happy with this family, in 1 month with this family ive learned so much, and i can now actually speak it :) before i could understand just basic basic conversation. Im behind almost everyone else, which really kind of makes me sad because everyone else can speak it like fluently by now, and my host family (current one) hosted an american dude, and they said after one month he spoke like i do now. that really kind of hurts to know that ive been here 5 months and i speak like a one monther. Like im so sad i wasted all that time in the forest. In the other family, even when i tried to speka in italian, they responded in english. it didnt help at all! and because we lived in the middle of no where, too far from everything, i could rarely go to italian class. for this reason i learned like nothing. so yes my italian is improving, but i know it should and could be much better. Now i understand almost everything i think. and i can speak much much better. I can write fairly well, but i know there is much much more to learn. The only thing i dont really know is like random words like water bottle, or grape, or rainbow, or ceilling. But i know how to talk and stuff. Everything is better with this family, Im just really sad i wasted almost half of my whole experience like it that. I had already studied italian ( a little bit) before i came! i should be ahead of everyone else! my italian friends think im the most retarded thing ever, i think. its so sad.
but anyways, things are improving :) lets cross our fingers i speak it well when i come back home:)

So thats my update!!!

Love Rachael

P.S.(post scriptum<-----Latin) i never mentioned that there is a dude named carlo in my class. or my main class anyways. my class 4C had always been talking about him the first 4 months, then he came back in mid january. He went on exchange to australia! It was really cool to meet him, and hes really nice! Its nice to know theres someone there just to talk to if i need it. It was a bit awk though because I was in what seemed like HIS class, like i took his place, then he came back and the first day he didnt have a seat. hahaha awk

oh and we had a AFS intercultura Novara dinner. Where the aussie girl and i(only ones here currently on exchange) and the people of novara province who had gone on exchange in the past, all came together for a dinner. and we all talked a bit about our experiences, and for brittany and i, how we like italy and our expereince so far. but they made us say it in italian.. :P
but it was cool, i got to meet more new people, and ex-exchange students! so they understand the changes and the shocks and the whole idea, which is nice to have those people to talk to.

ok, davvero davvero finito! xD

se volete chiedere qualcosa, chiedete! posso rispondere in inglese o italiano! c'e tantissimo piu! ma le mani fanno male xD abbanstanza per oggi, per questo post.

Monday, February 7, 2011


It's a new month, a new family, new life. yeah life's good :)