Time.

Where does it all go? How does it pass by so quickly? How can something which seemed so real, so tangible, become something which must have its  existence proven through evidence? Like a jacket which hangs silently in your closet or an old photo you find hiding in the corners of your desk drawer.

What do you do when it’s all over?

What do you say?

What do you do when life continues and you don’t know how to continue with it? Do you go along confidently, act as if nothing has changed? Do you try to embody the idea of being a completely new person? Or do you just float, waiting for the next thing to bring as much excitement as you just experienced for so long?

What do you do when they stop writing you back? When you feel like maybe, just maybe, time has worked its magic and erased your name on the sand of your favourite beach? Maybe your art has been taken down from the walls of your old school. You wonder; you wonder if they’ve forgotten you. You wonder if it was all a dream.

But it wasn’t. As far away as it seems right now, in this moment, it wasn’t a dream. And as time goes on, my gratefulness for my experience only grows; but so does my gratefulness for where I am now. The last year since my exchange has been one of the hardest of my life. Anything like that can make you miss what was; when everything was so simple and clear-cut. But time makes everything seem easier than it was. I know I had hard moments in Italy just like I do at home, and what I find when I look at those memories is a girl who is stronger than she knows.

Even more so, I look out my window and every day I see something beautiful about the place I live. I wonder if my Italian friends will ever see it. But I also wonder where I am going, who I will be, and I’ve come to the realization now that the attitude of embraciveness ,positivity, and openmindedness that I embodied during my exchange is what has made me so successful at such a young age. I have places I still have to go, things I still have to see, and every day I become a little more excited for that adventure to begin. But I think what I taught myself during my exchange, something I have to remind myself of every now and again, is that the adventure exists every day.

Life is, 100 percent, what you make it.

And you know what? Whether in Italy, or Canada, or some place in the middle of China, life is beautiful. I am so, so, so lucky.

And, if there is one thing I can get through to whoever reads this (if anyone), after all this time, is one thing: always remember to be grateful.

Your life is beautiful.

 

Until if and when I decide to jot down my thoughts again,

ciao ciao,

Laura.

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Living the Beautiful Life

Hello everyone, I really apologize for my absence but as time passes faster and faster I am finding it harder and harder to sit down and write a good post… which really is actually not a good idea because as I do more and more I have more and more to write about! But then again, what a problem it is to have too many amazing things to say and to not be able to find the time to find the words because I’m too busy taking advantage of that time! Exactly. So I am very sorry for being MIA for about, well, two months, but I’m back! Who knows when the next post will be but I do want to keep this blog up so I’m going to do my best. Here we go!

Okay, so when we left off I was beginning a series of spring voyages which would take me all over the place, the first of which was a weekend with my good friend who lives in Como. We had a lovely day exploring the lovely lake and town (and a little tiramisu always makes the day a little brighter, let’s be honest). The next weekend, I headed off to Venice with Rotary which was something I’ll always remember as, of course, the city is absolutely phenomenal, but add extremely strong rain, thousands of people, and Carnevale, and you’ve got a day to remember. It was absolutely wonderful and I wish I could have had more time exploring every little street and looking through every little window. There is just so much history and so much culture in every Italian city. It’s one of the things I love most about the country. The next weekend I was invited by a good friend to her house on the ocean in the Mediterranean, and we spent three beautiful sunny days on the sea and in the sun, exploring Rapallo, Santa Margherita, and Portofino. It was an absolutely amazing weekend which reminded me once again of the immense generosity and hospitality I have experienced here. Everyone has been so welcoming and has wanted to give me every opportunity to see as much as I can. This year would not have been the same without the support, kindness, and late-night pasta given to me by all the wonderful Italians I have met. I am so, so very lucky to have them. Two weeks later, I was once again off on a field trip, this time with my school! We went away to Florence for three days, visiting David (yes, the real David), the Uffizi Galleries, Ponte Vecchio and the Duomo, and having a great time while we were there. I have made some pretty amazing friends here and this trip with them was one of the most fun weeks of my whole exchange! One week later, I was once again off to Florence, this time with Rotary! We went just for the day but it was so much fun. One of my greatest memories is just how much we laughed, to the point where our faces and stomachs hurt so much we couldn’t feel them anymore. I have also made lifelong friendships with the other exchange students and I just love every time we get together. Definitely never a dull moment!

The next week passed by in no time flat and soon enough I was spending birthdays with my host family and two days later I was in a new house with a new family and a whole new aspect of this adventure! I was with this family a grand total of three whole days before setting out on a grand Easter Holiday vacation, which is something I will always remember. We went first to Trieste, a beautiful port town on the Adriatic Sea, on the east coast of Italy. After a tour of the beautiful city, we went to Hungary and met my host family’s son who is spending a year there. We spent one night on the beautiful Lake Balaton, explored two amazing towns (Tihany and Veszprem- no words to describe how beautiful they were), explored a castle, and maybe even experienced a bit of culture shock all over again! I also ate my first goulash. Just. yum. After that, we headed to Budapest and spent four days there. The first was actually spent in another town where we had an Easter picnic, drove bobsleds on a mountain, explored another castle, and explored another fantastic town, followed by another delicious dinner. The next three days were spent exploring the phenomenal city which is Budapest. We swam in the world-famous pools, saw the Opera, shopped in the local market (a bit of Granville nostalgia may have snuck in at this moment), and explored all the monuments such as the Citadel, the Castle, Fisherman’s Bastion, the Green Bridge, and the famous Cathedral.

After Budapest, we made our way to Vienna, Austria! Although it was raining the whole time and we didn’t really come with a plan, we still had a great time exploring the city and seeing all the sights. It was absolutely gorgeous. I would love to have the opportunity to go again and see it better. One of my highlights was the Leopold Museum. So much art and history, a very cool thing to experience! After two days in Vienna, we said goodbye to my new host-brother and made our way to Postojna, Slovenia! That night we crashed and the next morning we went to see Europe’s largest caves. I have to say, it was legitimately like being in an India Jones movie! So absolutely stunning and almost difficult to believe how these things exist. After that we headed home together, all a little more tired than before, and got some much needed rest. It was one of the most memorable trips I have taken this year and I will be forever grateful to my brand-new host family for their extreme generosity and hospitality. I had a truly wonderful time!

Yesterday (which was Monday and we got back Sunday night), I woke up bright and early and headed with my class to Torino! We went and visited the Cinema Museum, which was very very cool. I would love to go back and get a better feel for the city but what I saw was beautiful.

So that brings us up to the present! One and a half months to go. Where the time goes, I don’t know, but I have been so blessed to be able to experience all that I have in these past eight months. The language is going really well (not fluent but making my way there!), I’ve made lifelong friends, my new host family is amazing, and i am working now at making the most of my last few weeks. Wow. Last few weeks. Ew. Weird. Anyways, I’m going to decide not to think about that and rather think about living every day to the fullest. That’s what’s the most important, right? 🙂

Sending all my love to everyone, wherever you are. I hope to write soon but if I don’t, don’t worry, I’m probably on a beach in Sicily. 😉

Until next time, ciao ciao,

Laura

I’m still here!

Hello all! I’m sorry I’ve been a bit nonexistent in the last month and a half; Honestly, I thought it had been one or two weeks since I last wrote and I suddenly look at the calendar and, poof, it’s February 26. 

Let’s just take that in for a minute. 

February 26. 

First of all, what. Second of all, how. I don’t understand this. There is no way in the world almost six months have already passed. However, when I have moments of complete mindblowing today’s-date-realization it brings into perspective the amount I’ve done and seen and learned and grown here. I feel like if I compare that to how long I’ve been here, that’s when the amount of time seems really small and my mind gets blown on a whole different level. Exchange has taught me so many things and given me the opportunity to see things I never thought I would have the opportunity of seeing. In two days I’ll be going to Venice to witness the majestic and world-famous Carnevale. That’s ridiculous. Every moment instills in me a gratefulness for life and living every day which I feel you can only learn when time is slipping away from you and you’re racing to catch up. I’ve learned to live more, smile more, love more, explore more, be who I really am, and that if I let it all go and stop thinking and just breathe and feel the air on my face, that’s the moment they all talk about. And I can do that every moment of  every day if I want. And when I get back to Canada and I look back on this crazy whirlwind dream of a year I had, I won’t wish I made more of it. So that’s what I’m doing. And that’s exactly why I’ve been skipping out on this blog; I’ve been so busy doing all the things I’ve been wanting to do! The only days I seem to have a moment to sit down are the ones when I’m down and out with whatever virus is going around, and today happens to be one of those. I’m glad I finally am sitting down to write though because it feels good to update you all. If you’re one of the ones who comes on every so often to check if I’ve updated and constantly sees the same post, I apologize, Laura’s living in her own little dreamland. But rest assured, she’s not wasting a day. 🙂

Anyways, WHERE DID WE LEAVE OFF. I believe I had just switched families and was adjusting to life with a new house, family, and fridge organization system (obviously the most important). Surprisingly, adjusting took almost no time at all. I’ve got just about a month and a half more with this amazing gift of a host family and then I’m onto phase 3, the shortest and last phase of my exchange. School is going swimmingly as usual, my friends are absolutely amazing (both those in rotary and those at school), the language is really coming along and I find myself falling more and more in love with my city as time goes on. The question of whether this place is “home” or “my current city” is not a question anymore; I now have two homes, three families, and two countries into which my heart is divided. I also now have pasta connections.That’s a beautiful thing.

In two weeks I will hit the 6-month mark. I really don’t know how I feel about that. I prefer not to dwell on it too much, though it does creep into the back of my mind a few times a day. 6 months means I have just about 3 and a half months left, which is incredibly difficult to comprehend. This point is the point of my exchange when I start to go on all the trips I’ve been planning, so I can’t wait for all the adventures awaiting me. I have been given some amazing travel opportunities such as going to Budapest, Hungary, in the spring, which is definitely something I never in a million years thought I would have the opportunity to do. I absolutely cannot wait. I will also be going to Venice (on Saturday!), Verona, Cremona, Florence, and Rome, so these next few months will be full of amazing memories. I am so excited to see what they bring me. 

Honestly, just like January, February was a blur. I got to see a lot of my friends, was busy all the time, did a cooking course, made macarons, signed up for horseback riding lessons, and traveled to Como. Couldn’t be luckier for all the fantastic surprises I’ve had since I’ve been here and I’m so grateful for every one of them. 

That’s the end of this post, but you can rest assured the next one will exist. I’m not sure exactly when, but it will, I promise. I told you; I got things to do. Until next time, get out there and seize the day. You never know what you’ll find, whether it be inside of you or outside on the street. I’ve gotta go, there’s a cake waiting for me. 

Ciao ciao, 

L

Winter Hiatus- Emerging from the Chocolate

Ciao tutti!

So, I mean, I don’t even know where to start but hey, I’m still alive! So much has happened since the last time I wrote (which was about a month ago) and getting back to the blog seems a little bit more difficult every time I think about it because it takes me so long and I’m quite busy but I love having a blog and being able to share my experiences so I’m getting back on the wagon! So, here we go (by the way, we’re doing bullet form today. It’s easier this way seeing as I tend to like run-on sentences but i just think they’re a way of adding depth and subject to a sentence which could have been boring but now it’s not because there’s so much jam-packed into it and you just feel like, wow, that could have been separated but because it wasn’t i grew as a person. Maybe not?) Anyway, here goes:Image

1. Christmas- Christmas was spent at home with family and friends in the warmth of home. In the days leading up to Christmas I attended many a delicious dinner (don’t worry, there will be a food bullet), as well as visits from friends who we didn’t see every day. There were many people who came throughout the days preceding Christmas bearing gifts, who came just to have a coffee and say hello. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before but the Christmas spirit is different here in the sense that it is much less commercial and all the more personal. It has been said that Italians are all about the family and living here has proven this to be true. It was such a warm, happy and intimate environment rather than what I have noticed as the North American “Ugh, the whole family in one house. Great.” attitude. Also, gifts are smaller and more personal and are opened Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, depending on the family. We had a lovely dinner Christmas Eve with my second host family, after which I went to a nearby town and played Mary in a living nativity scene with my Rotary counselor and host sister. Every year the exchange student takes part, so it was a nice tradition to be a part of and quite a fun experience! Christmas Day usually consists of a large lunch with the family, after which we just spent time being together. What a privilege it is to be able to experience the holidays in another country. I thoroughly enjoyed myself!

2. New years- Shortly after Christmas, we headed back up to our house in the Mountains. The house is in Valle D’Aosta, in a little village called Antagnod to be exact. Every house is stone or wood and 5 steps from the door brings a panoramic view of some of the most beautiful mountains I have ever seen. Yes, that includes the Alps, which I skiied on. New Year’s was spent with family friends who also have a house up in Antagnod. We ate a traditional dinner and celebrated at midnight with fireworks. It was a beautiful night! 

3. School has started up again and I am having a terrific time, as usual. I really do enjoy myself, however weird that may sound, and don’t even mind going on Saturdays! I guess it helps that my language skills are no longer that of a 3-year-old but rather a ten-year-old with terrible grammar. But hey, every day really is an improvement in the language department! Every so often I get compliments on my improvement and it just makes me feel so happy inside and smile like a little kid because man, is it ever a lot of work and tiring on the brain to do this kind of immersion every day. However, I must clarify that’s a good thing. In fact, it’s an amazing thing! I am now at the point where immersion doesn’t exhaust me anymore and rather propels me when I have a solid conversation or help someone navigate their way through Milan. It’s like food for the soul every time I make a little improvement or accomplishment, and that feeling can’t be replaced by anything. I have also made legitimate Italian friends who are absolutely amazing and welcoming and nothing but kind to me. So as far as feeling comfortable, I couldn’t be happier.

4. Food- Yes, it needs its’ own bullet. Don’t be crazy now! Food is one of the most important staples of Italian life and I have found my appreciation and zest for food is ever-growing. Here, a certain passion and system goes in to every dish and every meal, and it’s contagious. Every evening my host mom teaches me how to cook a new dish and therefore my repertoire of traditional Italian cooking is slowly increasing! Some of my favourite Italian foods that you need to put down everything and make/buy/find are: pasta with TRUE pesto genovese, pizza margherita, risotto con formaggio e cipolle, polpette, pasta con pepperoncini (I prefer orecchiette and fusili noodles), salame al cioccolato, pizza al trancio, lasagna (get an italian to cook it for you), ravioli con spinaci, and just a good old panino con prosciutto cotto. Nothing else, just bread and meat. It’s fantastic. At Christmastime, some traditional dishes are tortellini in brodo, pandoro and panettone. Guess what you’re having for dessert every day of December? It’s probably Panettone, a traditional Milanese cake with fruit. Try adding some mascarpone in there. It’s heavenly. At New Year’s, it’s traditional to eat lentils and some sort of really grubby meat at midnight because it brings good luck (and also tastes fantastic!). The truth is, I eat ridiculously well and also really clean. Italian food is so fresh and scrumptious. I have a million other things I could list which blew my taste buds away but it would take over this blog. And you can look for it in Canada, but it’s probably not going to be the same. So really, just come to Italy and get your eating on. You won’t regret it.

5. I also switched host families about two weeks ago and it’s going so well. They are absolutely amazing and kind and I feel so comfortable already. The only thing I don’t like about this situation is that it has to end, but that’s how I’ve been feeling about everything recently. They all told me it would happen and I can tell it has; that part of exchange where you laugh at how you used to think time was going fast because now every day feels like a few minutes. It makes living every day to the fullest all the more important, and it also proves that doesn’t mean going out all the time either. It can mean spending time at home with your family or even going for a walk. I think what it really means is realizing the beauty of living in every day and enjoying that to the best of your ability. At least, that’s what it means to me. 

Until next time, (and let’s be honest, who knows when that will be), this is L, signing off. Go eat some pasta. 🙂

Ciao ciao

L

Buone Feste!

DSCN0277DSCN0143DSCN0232DSCN0112Ciao tutti!

I can’t believe Christmas is nine days away! Time is flying by as usual and I realize it’s been more than a week but I don’t really have a schedule anymore for when I write due to the fact that I’m usually doing something every day but hey, that means my exchange is full of exciting things! And, oh, it really is. The past couple of weeks, as usual, have been packed full of different things but I did have a couple days to relax so that was nice. However, I looked at my calender for December/ beginning of January and I actually have two or three free days in all that time! Don’t take it as stress, I take full joy in the fact that I have some pretty great plans awaiting me every day. Anyone who knows me will agree that I love being busy! Today is a free day though (kind of, because my to-do list is stretching a little bigger every day as my inner clock slowly relaxes to Italian time) which is nice because I’ve been pretty sick for a few days so today means taking it nice and easy, and finally updating my blog. Here goes!

So much has happened since I last left off! Unfortunately there isn’t enough space in my brain to remember two weeks back so thank goodness for journal writing! Anyways, two weeks ago my good friend came in from Rome and I gave her a tour of Milan so that was really nice! The next three days were more relaxed and I finished my university applications (finally!), did some good running, and got to planning some cooking for my host family! Saturday, It SNOWED! It was the first (and only so far) day I’ve seen snow here and it was absolutely beautiful! It snowed for a good five hours which actually surprised me and it didn’t stick but it was gorgeous. Then when I came home I made apple crumble for what I was to do on Sunday, tested it out (to make sure it was safe of course- it was), then headed out to a dinner with my host sister’s softball team to celebrate the end of a great season/ Christmas. It was really nice to be with everyone and get to know them a little bit better. I also tried chocolate salami, which changed my life. If you have not eaten it before, find a true Italian recipe, head to the store, make it and eat it. It is amazing.

The next day, I got up nice and early and headed to Lecco! There, I met with a bunch of the other exchange students and we had a beautiful Thanksgiving meal (hence the apple crumble)! It was an absolutely lovely day ,albeit a bit bittersweet seeing as I wasn’t in Canada with my family, but hey, these people here are my family too. That’s a pretty cool thing about us exchange students- we grow pretty close pretty fast. We ate all the usual suspects which everyone made and brought, as well as a couple exotic treats because obviously not all of us are North American! We played a group basketball game, took lots of pictures, ate too much cake, and laughed so much we cried and our abs were in serious pain. Safe to say it was a successful day!

The next few days consisted of the usual routine, going to my lessons and if not, doing fun things at home. On Wednesday, after my lesson, I headed to “L’Artigiano in Fiera” in a nearby town called Rho and it was insane! It’s basically a homeshow and a farmer’s market in one and multiplied by 1 million. It’s a ginormous fair with booths selling things from all over the world, with one whole floor dedicated to the different regions of Italy. The next was Asia, then South America, and Europe. I started in Sicily, ate dinner in Japan, and ended with some delicious macarons in France. By the end of if we all were so exhausted our legs almost stopped working but it was a really fantastic exhibiton!! Then on Sunday, we had a nice relaxing morning which was great because it was my first day in a few weeks in which I could sleep in! Then we headed to a nearby town called Saronno because it was a holiday so we thought there might be some interesting things going on and the shops would probably be open even though it was Sunday. However, when we got there there weren’t really a lot of people and it was quite cold with an incredibly dense fog in the streets. I thought it was gorgeous and it made for some pretty great pictures! My toes were a bit numb when we got home though but it definitely was a nice day. The next day I made banana bread, and after looking a bit unsure my host family gave it a try and I think they liked it (seeing as it was gone in two days). The next day I went and saw Bling Ring, and on Wednesday after my lesson we went to a concert at the Duomo! It was my first night being in Milan at Christmas time and there was a beautiful gigantic Christmas tree all lit up in front of the Duomo which was truly majestic and gorgeous! there was also another Christmas market around the Duomo which we visited for a bit, then went for dinner and headed to the concert. It was a Christmas concert and it was IN the Duomo and I have to say, it was something I will remember for a long time. How many people can say they’ve done something like that?! Pretty cool.

On Friday I went to Milan with my class and we went to a Rhodin exhibit where we saw some pretty breathtaking sculptures but what really was my favourite part was the next exhibit where we saw tons of different portraits and they had many incredible famous paintings as well as original Picassos, which really took my breath away. Standing in front of an original Picasso was pretty cool. After that, I went out for a great lunch with some other exchange students and we went to our last lesson together! I’m kind of sad they’re over because they helped me a lot but I definitely feel like I’m improving with the language so that’s rewarding. The next day I went back to Milan after school and met my friend to do something called, “Babbo Running”, which was one of the most awesome and crazy things ever! It was basically a 5k run with 11, 000 other people around Milan’s castle and the best part- everyone dresses as Santa Clause. It was so much fun! Then I went back to Lecco and we saw the Hunger Games and the next day we went to Meda for a Christmas lunch. We actually went to a mass first and then the lunch followed, which was four courses in this extroardinary room in a giant mansion- and yes, of course there was an orchestra. Why not?! Then I went home, had a shower, and went out to a Christmas dinner with my local Rotaract club and had some great pizza. Today I get the chance to relax and then the business continues, but it’s safe to say I’m having an amazing time and enjoying every minute. If I don’t get the chance to write again before Christmas, Buon Natale e Buone Feste a tutti!!

Ciao

L

Whirlwind

DSCF2911DSCN0092Ciao tutti! Non preoccuparvi, sono viva! Mi dispiace che non ho scritto per qualche settimane ma forse è una bella cosa perche vuol dire che sto facendo molte cose e sto non restando a casa tutto giorno, vero? Io ho tante cose di scrivere, non ho niente di idea dove a iniziare! Ma, provo il mio migliore a dare una bella descrizione della mia bellissima vita qui in Italia. 🙂

Hey everyone! Don’t worry, I’m alive! I’m sorry I have not written for a few weeks but hey, maybe it’s a good thing because it means I’m doing a lot of things and I’m not staying at home all day, right? I have so many things to write, I have no idea where to start, but I’ll try my best to give a good description of my beautiful life here in Italy. 🙂

Alright. So. The last time I wrote I had just reached my two-month anniversary here and now I am quickly approaching the three-month mark, which is slightly frightening. I just cannot believe everything I have done, seen, and learned already. I am so appreciative for everything I have been given so far and for everything I will experience in the coming months. Maybe I’ve said this before and maybe it’s cheesy but exchange is the best thing that ever happened to me. Sometimes I just shake my head and think, “Is this really my life?” and I just feel so grateful and thankful.

So the day after I wrote my class went to Padova! Padova (Padua) is close to Venice and is known for its’ artistic history. We visited two famous churches and we all had to present little blurbs about what we were seeing so I presented in English which ended up being a hit! My highlight, however, was definitely seeing  one of the world’s most famous chapels, la Cappella degli Scrovegni. Walking into a place I’ve seen in movies (and didn’t even know was in Padua), full of so much history, just completely took my breath away. It’s a moment I hope I’ll remember forever.

That weekend we had an art show in a nearby town in which my sculpting class presented tapestries we had made for little kids in a gallery-setting. It was a very cool experience! The next week I met my host sister in Milan one night after my lesson and we waited in an absolutely insane crowd of screaming girls for hours until finally we were let in and got to see Mika! If you don’t recognize that name, maybe the song “Grace Kelly” rings a bell? He’s a judge on X Factor here even though he’s not Italian and therefore he’s super famous. He’s super tall too! That Friday there was a huge student protest so I didn’t end up going to school and had a nice day together with my host mom and sister. The next weekend I met up with the other students in Milan for a day on the town and it was really nice to get everybody together for the day. This past Saturday, after school, I went to Milan with my host mom and sister to another Mika meet-and-greet and after, did some shopping- it was a lovely day, although Italy is getting a bit cold now! Sunday our district took us to Cremona for  the Festa Del Torrone, which is a very famous festival in Italy. Torrone is Italian for nughet, which is basically almonds, honey, and other things which stick it all together. I think I liked it but it was a bit of an overload! It was really nice to be able to explore the city though. Cremona is a beautiful place. We ate lunch in a beautiful Palazzo which just shows how much culture is dripping from every wall of this country! Then on Tuesday (yesterday) a good friend of mine came to visit so we gave her and some other friends a tour of Milan. It was definitely a full day but nonetheless a great one!

So obviously it’s been a very full few weeks and I hope I can post more often but I doubt it. This weekend is full of plans, as is the next, and the next, and the next, and the next, and then it’s January! WHERE IS THE TIME GOING. Sometimes I just need to stop and take a breath. So, today’s message comes from the wise Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Wishing everyone well, wherever you are!

Ciao

L

TWO MONTHS

DSCF2897

Hello everyone, please excuse me if I make hideous typing mistakes as I am at home sick and completely exhausted and therefore I can’t even spell my name right, but I’m going to try my best!

So the past two weeks or so have been fuuuuuull of exciting things!! Went to my Italian lessons as usual, which I really enjoy, and I feel are definitely helping me improve! Of course there’s the added perk of going to Milan twice a week, but that’s just an added plus! Two Fridays ago I went to the mall with my host family because they were helping me find a winter coat and I finally did, yay! We also had some Japanese food for lunch, which by the way is absolutely delicious in Italy! They just do everything better here I guess ;). On Saturday I got to skip school and sleep in, and then headed to Milan! There I met with the other exchange students in my Rotary district and we went on a guided tour of the Duomo. We were also given the amazing opportunity of visiting the University library, which barely anyone is allowed into. There were books as old as 700AD, which absolutely baffled me. The amount of history here never ceases to shock me, and the opportunities we are given as exchange students are so unique and fantastic. We then proceed to go get lunch, where I had my first burger in two months and it was scrumptious! We also went to a theatre and saw an orchestral performance of the Jungle Book. Like most Saturday and Friday nights, we the evening consisted of hanging out with friends and watching movies. Great but tiring day!

The next day was my host sister’s birthday. so my host mom made her a beautiful pan-di-spagna cake covered with fruit and icing. We also had delicious pancakes for breakfast! We were going to go out for pizza but unfortunately couldn’t get a tables, so we hung out and had a little family party together that night. The next day we tried to go a movie for her but the theatre was closed, so we went on Tuesday. On Wednesday I was about a half an hour late for my lesson because the trains here are crazy, but I got there so that’s good! Then, our friends came over and we watched the Host. It was weird to see it for the first time in Italian, but I liked it nonetheless! Gotta say though, I also read the book here (in large print so it was about 1300 pages!) and fell in love with it, so nothing could have beat that for me.

The next day was Halloween! They don’t really celebrate it here, so I hope you all enjoyed yours! I did see a few pumpkins and trick-or-treaters so that was nice. However, the next two days are holidays and we didn’t have school so on Halloween (Thursday) we drove up to our house in the mountains. Our house is in Antagnod, which is in the Aosta valley. It is absolutely stunning! The next day we went for a four-hour hike (mom you would have loved it) and really got to see how gorgeous the valley is! The Alps (Monte Rosa) are at one end at at the other, sprawling hills. It was magical! The next day my host dad came up to meet us and along with some family friends, we went about an hour to the town of Aosta. It is a really medieval town with tons of beautiful streets and ruins of an ancient Roman Theatre, which were very cool to see! We also just happened to go on the day of a giant chocolate festival, so needless to say, I was in heaven. The next day we had a big lunch with our friends because it was the son’s birthday, which was of course delicious! We ate gnocchi, which is a very Italian dish consisting of little balls of flour, usually in a tomato sauce. At this time of year it is very popular to eat it with pumpkin, but I haven’t tried that yet! We then packed our bags and headed home. That was a very condensed version of what we did, but nevertheless it was an amazing weekend I know I’ll never forget.

Today I left school early and didn’t go to my lesson because I am feeling quite sick but hopefully I feel better by tomorrow because my class is going to Padua! I am really excited to go there for the day and experience the architecture and the city. It’ll be a great day. Also, it will be my TWO MONTH anniversary in Italy! It is almost impossible to believe I’ve been here for two months, but they have definitely some of the best times of my life. Can’t wait for what awaits me.

Until next time, ciao!

L