Happy Thanksgiving to all my Canadians! I hope you are all in the company of family, enjoying the season, the weather, the food, and each other. Please savor that turkey for me, as my Thanksgiving dinner consisted of a kebab wrap. It was delicious, don’t get me wrong, but no turkey dinner! Oh, and cranberry sauce. Please eat all the cranberry sauce. I hope you all had wonderful weekends, whatever you’re doing and whoever you’re with!
It’s almost been six weeks since I got here and I can hardly believe it. I’ve started Italian lessons twice a week in Milan, which seem to be helping! They are organized through Rotary, so I go with four other exchange students. Our lessons are in the house of this adorable little Italian woman who is really sweet and actually quite hilarious! Time seems to fly by, which means I must be enjoying myself, so that’s good! I’m not sure exactly when, but over the past couple of days something has changed in the sense that I am finding myself speaking and hearing only Italian, except when things are really difficult and translation is needed. Sometimes, when talking to people I don’t know very well, I end up speaking what I like to call “Fritalglish”, a mixture of French, English, and Italian, but it seems to work just as well! Anyway, the Italian is improving in spades and I am really proud of what I have accomplished so far in terms of language. I know I’ve got a heck of a long way to go but when I think of how much I knew six weeks ago, I realize how much I’ve learned! i’ve gone from deer-in-the-headlights to slightly-confused-at-times, so I’d say that’s pretty good! I hope to speak quite well by three months, maximum. Vediamo!
Other than that, things have been business as usual. I enjoy having a daily routine, as it makes settling into regular life much easier. Last Sunday I traveled with my host family and host sister’s softball team to a city far away for a softball tournament. It was a pretty long day and it ended up pouring rain all day (as it has for the past week, and anyone who really knows me will know how happy this made me), so I spent most of the day in the cafe with my host mom and friend, drinking cappuccino, eating chocolate, and playing cards. It’s safe to say it was a really nice day, and also a great time for me to just spend time with my host family and friends. I also got to know a few people on the softball team, so talking to them was great. I made one friend who went on exchange to Ohio, so it was nice to be able to just talk without thinking about it for a while.
This past week was probably the most normal and casual I’ve had, which was nice and relaxing! I got to go shopping a bit for some warmer clothes in Milan (let’s just say I was successful), hung out with my family, went running a few times, and just lived regular life with my family. I went on errands with them, helped them with dinner, and really got to spend time with them.
Yesterday, while my host family went to a softball tournament, I was invited to go to MIlan for a 10k run! I went with a friend of mine who is a competitive runner and we took the metro to Castello Sforzesco, which is Milan’s castle. It is absolutely beautiful and is surrounded by a huge park, which is also gorgeous! Yesterday, there was an added sea of orange tee-shirts, blasting music, confetti, sign-up stations, and spandex. It was my first time being at the castle itself. and it was amazing. I found out as I was walking through that, y’know, Leonardo Da Vinci lived there for ten years. No big deal. Italians, man. And although I have been to my fair share of historic European landmarks, this was the first moment where history really hit me like a slap in the face. I just could not believe that this man, who crafted so much of what we treasure today, walked in the very same place I was walking, saw the same things in the sense of the castle, and thought up some of his most famous works in a place where, 500 or so years later, I would be running a 10k with 40, 000 other people. It just amazed me. This world is a crazy, fantastic place. I had no idea what I was getting myself into because I was casually asked about this on Friday and decided to do it on Saturday, and it turned out to be a fantastic day! The run was like a 10km tour of Milan, through some really beautiful areas, so it didn’t really feel like work. It was hard and tiring, but the scenery combined with the atmosphere and adrenaline made it a lot easier. It was my very first 10k and I finished in an hour exactly, so I figured that wasn’t too bad! What a great day.
So, to finish things off, as I sip a warm cup of tea, I am reminded of everything I am thankful for. I am so incredibly thankful for the fact that I get to wake up here every day for the next ten months and experience something new every day. I am thankful for the people who have taken me in and cared so much for me in such a short time. I am thankful for the friends I have made and the copious amounts of knowledge I have acquired. I am thankful for every opportunity I’ve been given. And, obviously, for the food I get to eat every day. I honestly miss Canadian food so much sometimes, especially at this time of year, but then I have a cappuccino and I feel so much better! Anyone who knows me will know I am crazy about this time of year and am incredibly festive, and here in Italy the atmosphere is quite different. There is no thanksgiving here, so enjoy yours! Enjoy your turkey, your talkative grandmas, your copious amounts of gravy, pumpkin patches, colourful maple leaves, farmer’s markets, and crisp autumn air. And for those of you who are university students and are complaining about missing your family even though they flew you back for Thanksgiving and you’ll see them in eight weeks, just try to be grateful that you understand everything that is said to you, you know exactly what you’re eating, you know how to use the toilet, and most of all, you got to see your family. Whoever you are, no matter how much your family might bicker or annoy you, just try to appreciate the fact that you get to spend the holidays with them and hug them a little tighter for me. Sending my love and hugs to my family and everyone else at home! Happy Thanksgiving. Have a great one! 🙂