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