Feels Like a Dream

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Ciao tutti!

The last few days have been a blur of memorable moments and increasing progress. I don’t even know where to start, and the thing that kinda sucks is that I should be writing in my journal every day and I have but for the past week, I just haven’t had time to sit down and fill it in. So, with that said, today’s blog will consist of me completely relying on my memory, which at the moment is a little scattered due to the amount I stuff into my brain every day. But let’s give it a shot. Andiamo!

School has definitely gotten a lot easier! I thought I would dread going because it’s school, but I look forward to it. I have made a few friends now despite the language barrier, and I am confident that as I learn more it’s only going to get easier. I have some really fun classes and others which I can’t even hope to understand, but if I don’t understand the lecture I try to learn a few new words if I can. I really like my teachers as well, although only two of them speak English. Also, my host sister switched into my class, so we were both really happy about that! It’s nice to have a few translaters around when I need them as well. School has been so good for me and I think for my friends, because as they teach me their language I teach them mine. It’s a beautiful cycle that makes me smile and is very fulfilling. I don’t know if I’ve said this before, but for anyone out there who is thinking about exchange, immersion is THE BEST way to learn a language! 100 percent.

Apart from that, I’ve just been hanging out with my family, running a lot (I live in a very active community so that’s great!), and doing loads of things around my town. On Saturday we had lunch with some family and then had dinner with my third host family. Absolutely delicious! They also showed me where I will be staying in their house, so that was kind of cool. They were also incredibly generous enough to give me a phone, so I can finally contact people here! Something tells me it will come in handy.

Yesterday was one of my favourite days so far. It makes me a little uncomfortable saying that actually, because I believe that every day should be fully appreciated and lived to the fullest– the truth of that statement never really hit me until exchange– but it was a day that stands out to me because of the amazing adventures which were had. By the way, I know I’ve said this before, but I just need to re-iterate that my host family is absolutely fantastic. They do so much for me and I feel as if I’ll never be able to repay them, so I always make sure to tell them how much I appreciate everything. They’ve really gone out of their way for me a few times, whether it was to get things sorted out and get me settled or show me a new city, and it just means the world to me. So grazie mille a la mia famiglia hospitante!

Anyways, yesterday my family asked me if I wanted to go to the sea with them, or to the mountains with my second host family. It was a difficult decision, but I’ve always wanted to go to the Mediterranean and I didn’t know if I would get another chance, so I opted to go to the sea and my second family came with us. Right now they are hosting a student from Turkey, so he came along with them. Luckily he speaks English, so communication was easy! We drove about two and a half hours to Liguria, which is a province on the western coast of Italy. We were going through all these tunnels and all of a sudden, out of my window I could see this dazzling turquoise water. I think I smiled so big I almost broke my face. We missed the exit we wanted so we ended up driving along the sea through all these little towns, what a hardship. It was absolutely ridiculously beautiful. I’ve never seen anything like it it in my life. I had to keep telling myself, “Dude, you’re in the Mediterranean!”. I was so happy I couldn’t keep myself from getting a little choked up. That has happened quite a few times actually. Whenever I think about the fact that I am actually here, I am so overcome with happiness and fullness that I get tears in my eyes and I have to go hide in my room and pretend I have allergies. All joking aside, I seriously am so incredibly lucky and to everyone who has helped me get here, not a day goes by that I don’t say thank you. To the wall, because obviously you’re not here. But still.

We drove through so many towns but one that stuck out to me was Rapallo. We stopped to get foccaccia and I just walked around with my mouth hanging open, marveling at how a place could be so beautiful. That happens a lot too. We ended up in San Margherita Ligure, which is an absolutely beautiful town on the sea with these amazing different coloured buildings spanning the boardwalk. We hung out at the beach for a while and ate our foccaccia and other things which I can’t pronounce. I also swam in the sea for the first time! The water’s edge was composed of these giant white rocks, and the turquoise water was a perfect temperature. Not too hot, not too cold. You didn’t even have to wear a light jacket (that reference was for you dad). The water was so clear and behind the beach were all kinds of colourful houses nestled in the hills. I swear, I’ve seen it on a postcard. I had a moment where I was tanning and I had the realization that, hey, I’m laying on a giant rock in Mediterranean Italy without a care in  the world. How did I get this lucky?! After we hung out at the beach for a few hours, we walked around San Margherita and took lots of pictures. We then drove home and had some lovely pasta with the “true” pesto, staight from Genova. Scrumptious!

So, after a great week, we launch into a whole new week of adventures. This week I am going to a three-day multi-district conference in Emilia-Romagna! Can’t wait. And if I can leave you with one thing, it’s this: There is no way to know what the next day brings and for that reason complaining about “tomorrow” is useless. Why dread what you have to do tomorrow when you don’t know what tomorrow brings? You might meet a life long friend or eat the best gelato you’ve ever had. There is absolutely no way to know how many tomorrows you will have in your life, so make them “todays” and enjoy the heck out of them instead, even if you don’t want to go to school or work, etc. It will make you a happier person and you will absorb more than you ever thought you could.

Ciao ciao, until next week!

L

Weekly Updates

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Hello all,

So I know it’s been about a week since I last posted and that is due to the sheer business I have been becoming accustomed to! Sorry I’m not updating more often, but I’m going to try to post weekly!

I’m starting to get used to life here, and I’m feeling way more comfortable. Life has gotten a lot easier and less overwhelming than the first few days, and I am just so enormously ecstatic to be living here in Italy with my amazing host family and to be doing what I’m doing. I just love it here!

So since I last updated I have started school! I go to an arts school so I am doing cool things like figure drawing and sculpting! Other classes I don’t understand at all (like art history) so I just listen and try to learn new words whenever I can. None of my teachers speak english except my English teacher, so that’s been a bit of a challenge but her along with my host sister have been instrumental in helping me get comfortable at school here. It feels like being a baby again, being thrown into this whole new life with a new language and people and school, and I can’t do a lot at school because of the language barrier, but the potential of learning is huge. Every day I learn so much, about the language and the culture and myself. I’m only about 11 days in and I know this is the best decision I have ever made.

On Saturday I went to the lovely town of Lecco for a Rotary district meeting! It was the first time I met the inbounds in my district so that was really cool! Lecco is absolutely ridiculously beautiful. We walked around the streets and the lake for a bit while eating the best gelato I have ever had (SO MUCH GELATO IT’S RIDICULOUS). It was really cool to see the area around Lago di Lecco and Lago di Como. The mountains are so big and fake-looking, it’s like I was in a fairytale or something! I also met my other two host families, who are also amazing! I have gotten so lucky with my families, I can’t wait to experience this year with all of them.

Apart from all that, I have been going to a lot of softball games (Vai Chiara!) and have fallen into a daily routine here. I am also taking some Italian lessons with a lovely friend, although the fact that the lessons are in French makes it a bit difficult! I am trying my best to grasp the language as fast as I can, but I have to constantly remind myself of how little time I’ve been here. When I think back to when I got here 11 days ago, I really didn’t know ANY italian and now I can have small conversations and understand most of what is said to me. Immersion is AMAZING.

That’s all for now! I will post more on my adventures soon.

Ciao ciao

L

MILANOOOO

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Ciaooo! So yesterday I went to the outskirts of Milan for a softball game and I thought we were going into central Milan right after, but we came back for a beautiful lunch and after that my host sister and I took the underground to the Duomo!! The Duomo is absolutely breathtaking. When I was walking up from the subway and I saw it appear I had to take a deep breath and remind myself that it was actually happening! This is my life and I am so incredibly lucky to be here. I love central Milan!! We walked and walked and on the way we saw some popular streets and shops (Including the famous galleries, where I did some sort of famous circle with my heel on certain spot which is supposed to result in good luck), roman-era ruins, and the winner of Italian X Factor!! Milan is so magical, I just fell in love with it. What a great day!

This morning I didn’t do much, but after a lunch of delicious Italian spaghetti some friends came over and I helped them with their English homework, which was surprisingly hard for me! After that we went for a long walk to eat some gelato, which was the best I’ve EVER had. Benissimo!!!

I am really having a great time and am starting to feel like this is my second home. I am so incredibly grateful for this, what an incredible experience. Wouldn’t change it for the world (no pun intended)!

ciao ciao

L

Busy busy busy!

So yesterday was definitely a full day! My host sister and I watched some American TV shows in the morning and I met a friend of hers, Marco. I also met some of her friends the night before. Everyone here is very friendly and welcoming! I am still trying to figure out the way things work here but I feel extremely happy and comfortable with my family.

Yesterday we also to the mall in a town which I think was called Lambiate? There are so many small towns here squished together that half the time I don’t even know where I am! The mall was no different than a Canadian mall, with very similar stores, just more expensive! We also went to two softball games, which is very popular here. There is American music playing and they sell hotdogs, and it is very Americanized I think. Italians often talk about how people here just want to live the good old American Dream, but I am glad to see that traditional Italian customs and behaviour are still at the forefront, although the country is very westernized. Usually I get bored easily during sports games, but I thoroughly enjoyed myself, partly because of these three crazy number one fans who brought giant flags and smoke machines and big drums which they would bang and sing chants with. It was very funny and entertaining. People here are very lighthearted and have a great sense of humour. It almost felt like home for a little while, only this audience was much more rambunctious than the one at home. I loved it!

i have had some delicious food so far including prosciutto, panini, pasta, pizza, fritata and some things I can’t pronounce. i haven’t loved all of it, but I have been encouraging myself to only eat things I haven’t tried before. Its one of my favourite parts of traveling!! I am about to make my way to Milan for another softball game followed by a day of shopping. Can’t wait. 

 

L

BUONGIORNO ITALIA

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So, after a long and treacherous trek across the Atlantic Ocean, I have arrived in Italy! I took a walk around my town today and got a library card (where we RENTED movies!) and Arese is beautiful!! I have already noticed so many differences in the way they live here compared to home, but at the same time there are so many similarities that it creates a nice balance.

My host family is amazing. We get along great and they are very hospitable and kind. They speak to me in Italian and if I don’t understand, they translate. It is tiring on the brain, so sometimes I lose focus and it just sounds like “dorito dorito dorito” but is beautiful nonetheless. Some things I have noticed already are: 1. They don’t have automatic garage doors. The door is one you actually have to get out of the car and unlock, then push up and back in the car. 2.  The humidity here is off the charts, which mixed with the heat caused my body to swell up like a giant sausage. 3. They don’t have air conditioning. 4. The meals are structured differently, sugar is more apparent but portions are smaller than in Canada.

I love it here already. Right when I got here yesterday I was struck with sudden homesickness but I am feeling more comfortable today and much of that is because of my amazing host family. Also, people weren’t kidding when they said the food was to die for. Last night I had a giant cheesy pizza and today, “welcome cake” for breakfast and pasta with pesto for lunch. It was fantastic. Jetlag is prevolent but I am trying my hardest to stay alert. today I watched a movie with my host sister and struggled to keep my eyes open, but it’s all part of the process of settling in. On Sunday I will be going to Milan and tonight I am meeting some family friends. Can’t wait for what awaits me, this place already feels like home! I will try my best to keep this updated as much as I can! Love and miss you all!

L