Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Pre-Departure Orientation!

Ciao!(: So as I mentioned in my last blog post, my pre-departure orientation was this past Saturday! Honestly it was really looong and mostly boring but at times it was really helpful! The church that the meeting was held at was about an hour away from my house so I got up at around 8 am to get there on time! We pulled up to the church and saw a girl the same age as me with a German shirt on. I immediately knew we were definitely in the right place! Once we got into the church there was name tags out on a table for everyone with the country they were going to. My parents left and I took a seat next to the girl I had seen in the parking lot earlier. First thing we did was introduce ourselves, there was 3 volunteers and about 12 kids there and at least half were going to Germany with the full ride scholarship. Then there was one girl going to Belgium for a year, one boy going to Japan for the summer and another girl going to Italy but only for the summer. Oh and my friend Lani was there too, she's going to Spain. We went over the basics, no hitchhiking, no driving, no drugs... blah blah blah (; We watched a Youtube video on the history of AFS & how it keeps growing. I guess they send 13,000 students abroad every year! Hmm... I'm trying to think what else we really did! Oh we did an exercise where we wrote down on a note card what we thought the elements of culture were, then attached it to a rock with a rubber band. Then we stood around in a circle, passed around a bag and each placed our rock in it one at a time to get a feel for the "weight and stress of a change in culture".

My fears & hopes for the year, my AFS guidebook and a few of the worksheets we did.

We also each got two notecards and we wrote our biggest fear and biggest hope for the year abroad. Then we went around and shared, everyone pretty much had the exact same fears & hopes! This showed us that we're not alone, everyones sharing the same feelings. They gave us a worksheet to fill out called "What Would You Do?" Basically it gave you a scenario such as: "You see a former classmate and he makes the OK gesture to you" then you have to write how you would respond. So initially I said that I would just smile and make the OK gesture back, I mean that's pretty simple right... ? Not really. We got another worksheet that specified the situation a little bit more. It added, "Your response if you came from a culture where this gesture is obscene". This goes to show us that we will probably make innocent mistakes abroad because we're not used to the culture! There was a list of problems we could have abroad and it was crazy because almost all of them I  had thought of before! Everyones parents came back for the last hour to have an information session with the volunteers. I'm not really sure if this is appropriate to post on this blog or not.. but I'll just go ahead and say it! My parents and my friends always joke around that I'm going to get pregnant in Italy! haha it was so funny in the orientation because they brought up pregnancy as a reason to get sent home and my mom looked right at me! Don't worry, that definitely will not happen! I just thought that was a little funny story to share(: That was about everything that happened at the pre-departure orientation! It was really cool getting to meet some other future exchange students because they're going through the exact same thing as me!(: Like I can talk to my friends here in Ohio about AFS but they don't really understand as much as another exchange student would.

I got my password & username for Rosetta Stone online and I'm partly through the first level! I like it so far and I feel like I'm learning some Italian but it's so repetitive I get bored of it sometimes... Oh I still haven't gotten my host family )': waahhh I'm so sad, I want my placement SO BAD. Ugh. Everyone who's gotten their family's like "Oh it's worth the wait!" So I just need to be patient. What else!? Oh today I pretty much had a pannick attack because I checked my e-mail and got an e-mail from AFS and of course I jumped to conclusions and thought it was my host family! But of course it wasn't... it was just an e-mail about applying for a Visa! Boooring ): ! On the Italy 2012-2013 Facebook group there's a girl who lives in Italy but is on an AFS exchange program with the United States. She's currently living in a town in Ohio that's only 30 minutes away from me!! She messaged me and asked if I want to meet up sometime and ask any questions! I'm so excited!(: This is going to so awesome to get to meet a true Italian! I'm going to have like a gazillion questions for her!

Weekly host family placement update: 230 students out of 470 have been placed!

Well that's all! Buonanotte (Good night!)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


YAY! So my blogs been added to the AFS Study Abroad Blog page on their website! whoooo hooooo!(: I'm seriously so happy about that! My names under the Italy section on the right side, 3rd name down! Check it out hehe I'm so proud(:

Okay so in my last post, I was talking about how I was worried that I still hadn't gotten any information on my pre-departure orientation, well it turns out that we never got the e-mail with all the information about PDO! Yesterday night I posted on the Ask An AFSer Facebook page just asking if it was normal that I haven't recieved  any information whatsoever on my pre-departure orientation yet. A lady who just so happened to be in charge of the Greater Cleveland Area, saw my post & told me that my PDO is THIS SATURDAY! Uhh come again... I have a lacrosse game on Saturday! ): It turns out the people in charge of the PDO e-mailed the information to my interviewer who was supposed to forward it to me and parents but it got stuck in her junk mail or something? I don't know but the point is I didn't get the information until now! At school I was freaking out because the PDO is from 10 am to 3:30 pm and my lax game was at 1! Ahhh! What the heck was I supposed to do?! It's our last home game, I didn't want to miss it! Amazingly enough, today when I went to lax practice it was a miracle because my coaches said that the game on Saturday was canceled! Wow, talk about being lucky(: So my whole freak-out was all for nothing!

Hmm besides that there's not a whole lot of other news! Still haven't gotten my host family... ): But in the past few days it seems like ALOT of people have gotten their placements so hopefully that means I should be getting mine soon too! I just have to look on the bright side!(: Uhh that's definitely easier said than done.. haha

Weekly host family placement update: 200 students out of 470 have already been placed!
Cross your fingers for me that I'm one of the 200 that's already been placed & their sending me the e-mail as I type this (;

Okay well that's all! I'll post again after the pre-departure orientation to let you know how it goes(:
Ciao, Jacqueline(:

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

New month, but still no news ):

So it's a new month, May! Yay! (: That means the last day of school's getting closer and my departure to Italy won't be too far off either! I'm excited that time's flying by so fast but I still don't have any news on my host family )': Some people have gotten their families already and I seriously can not even begin to describe how jealous I am!! I've started learning a little bit more about Italian geography and I'm hoping to be placed in the South! Not only because that's the area closest to the Mediterranean Sea but the culture just sounds richer & funner! But it really doesn't matter that much to me, I just want to know!! I got an e-mail from AFS a week or two ago and I was soo pumped because I thought it'd be my host family but no... it was just an e-mail about a new Italian language requirement:

Dear Jacqueline and Family,

While you may still be waiting to hear about your acceptance into the program, I wanted to inform you of a new addition to the AFS-Italy Year Program.  
AFS-Italy has informed us that they will now be supplying all participants with access to an online language learning module through Rosetta Stone, in order to help you prepare for you study abroad experience.  Please note that this language learning course will be MANDATORY, and requires that all students complete at least 1 level of course (approximately 40 hours) BEFORE you arrive in Italy in September. Should you not be able to complete the required One Level of language learning, AFS-Italy will then ask that you reimburse them for the cost of the program (approximately 50 Euros or 65 USD).  If you need to reimburse AFS-Italy, you will be asked to do so upon your arrival in Rome.
To clarify, this online learning module is provided free of charge by AFS-Italy, but you will only need to pay for the course if you do not complete the first level.
You will receive an email from AFS-Italy in early May, providing you with the online learning module details (including a username and password).  Please note that the AFS-Italy volunteers are going to be monitoring your progress throughout the course, and may often email you periodically with letters of support and encouragement.  Additionally, if you find this program to be helpful while you are abroad, you will be able to access it during the first few months of your program (up until the end of November).
Note:  All students will also be provided with another language course once you arrive in Italy (in person, not online).  This course will be organized within your community and typically contains from 40-60 hours of lessons.  

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.
Best Regards,
Outbound Programs

So yeah, that's about the only news from AFS in the past month. Umm what else... well some people have gotten information regarding their orientations but I haven't gotten anything about that yet either... oh well! I just need to be patient but that's definitely not one of my strong suits. Oh yeah also I've been trying to get my blog posted up on the AFS student blog page but once again nothings happened with that either! It's still not up on the website, oh well I'm just going to have to wait (: I've also applied to like a million fastfood places in my city for a job but none will hire anyone under 16 so I'm pretty much screwed ): I'm going to have to think of other fundraisers or something! Also I've been pretty lazy with learning Italian, I keep saying to myself that I should really start learning on the LiveMocha account I've made but I'm still only on lesson 1. I mean, I'll have plenty of time to learn over the summer right?
Soo just to update you: 24 more days of school! whooooooooo!(:
  • 50 kids from the USA going to Italy next year
  • only 7 of those 50 have gotten their host family's already ):
I guess people got a call from an AFS guide who told them about the 7/50 thing but I didn't get a call! Oh and I'm not really sure but I feel like I should start applying for a Visa because I guess the process takes forever, but I haven't looked into that yet either... Wow this is such an uneventful blog post! haha well hopefully next time I post, there will actually be some news!(: