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!)

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