Monday, September 10, 2012

Benvenuto Italia!

I'm finally in Villarbasse with my host family! Oh my gosh where to start.. so much has happened since the last time I posted! The orientation in NYC was pretty boring, I wrote a post that night in the hotel but I didn't have wifi to post it, so I'll post it now!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012 11:00 pm

So I’m sitting in my room in the Hilton Hotel after a loooong day of orientation! Me and my friend Lani who’s going to Spain drove here this morning from Ohio and left at 3 am! Thank goodness I slept the entire 9 hour car ride or I’d be dead. We got to the hotel and had lunch with my parents, it was a lot of fun. We had like 3 waiters and I’d ask one for ketchup and they’d all bring it to me, it was so funny. It’s weird when you see someone that you recognize from the group on facebook in person. I saw so many people that I messaged with on facebook about Italy but I didn’t wanna seem creepy so I’d be like uh hey I think I know you…. Hahaha most people are so much taller shorter younger or older in person! It’s crazy! Anyway, my parents took us to the check in center and we said our final goodbyes. No one cried because I still don’t think it felt real at that point. It just seems like I’m going on a short vacation I’m not actually leaving for 10 whole months. We were surprisingly early so we sat around for about 4 hours in the lobby with other exchange students until the orientation started. There are kids going to Spain, Italy, France, South Africa, Ghana, Egypt, Bosnia and Turkey. I’m pretty sure that’s all the countries! The group going to Italy is the biggest, I love our group everyone’s so nice and we understand what each other’s going through. Well the orientation part is suuuper booring but oh well that’s part of exchange! It’s making us more anxious and excited to finally leave!! Well that’s about everything.. um the rooms are super nice! There’s only 2 people per room and we’re paired up with someone going to the same country as us! Not gonna lie when I took a shower I cried a little bit thinking about how I’m not going to see my family and friends for 10 months. I’ve always been the girl that no one ever thinks will be homesick but it just hit me. I have no idea what my life is going to be like for the next 10 months. I mean I have a basic idea but I’m living with pretty much complete strangers… It’s crazy. But I didn’t cry too much because I didn’t want my roommate to hear.. hopefully the sound of the shower was louder! Sadly there’s no wifi so I can’t contact any of my family or friends or check the weather for Rome ): But our curfew was 10:30 and one of the AFS volunteers came around to check we were in our rooms so I asked her if she could check the weather and it’s going to be a high of 80 and sunny! (: She also said it’s the fig season in Italy so be sure to eat some fresh figs! I can’t wait, I feel like I’m going to be like Lizzie McGuire in Rome!

Me and Lani at the hotel in NYC!
Ready for my first flight! 
Flying over the Swiss Alps
All of the American AFSers going to Italy
 So the next day after this post ^^ we pretty much waited around all day until our flight left that night! I played poker and just hung out with a bunch of other AFSers. At the airport I had to pay $100 to bring the extra weight in my suitcase. Um the flight was about 8 hours and I watched a movie and slept for most of it, it actually went by really fast! We landed in Zurich and it was so hectic because we were late for our flight so we had to rush to make it! That flight was super short, only an hour! Once we arrived in Rome we had to sit and wait at the baggage claim foreverrrrr because a few girls suitcases was lost ): Italian people dress so much more stylish than American's! All of the guys kind of look gay because they dress so nice! and soo manyy people smoke! Anyway, then we took a bus ride to our hotel, as soon as we pulled up to the hotel a huge group of exchange students from all over the world greeted us and yelled "Welcome to Italy!!" it was so cool! We had to check in and put our luggage away, it was kind of stressful all the Italian volunteers were yelling and throwing papers at you. I got to my room who I shared with 2 other girls from the USA, I changed out of the ugly AFS t-shirts that we had to wear then went and meet exchange students from all over the world! It was unreal, everyone was so nice and friendly because they're going through the same experience! I met people from Denmark, Thailand, Finland, Japan, Belgium, Switzerland, Albania, Argentina and so many other countries. The food during orientation was pretty good but nothing close to the food my host family serves me!

First Italian meal in the hotel in Italy
Italian drivers and traffic is crazy!
First meal in Italy with kids from around the world! 
Italian breakfast
Italy is so beautiful
The second night of orientation we had a welcome ceremony. Every country was called out and then we'd stand up and cheer, it was awesome! It got me so pumped up for this next coming year. Then early the next morning I got up and left on at 8 hour train ride to Torino! There was a big group of students, probably about 30 dropped off at Torino. When we pulled up to the station, there was tons of host families holding up signs screaming and yelling for us, it was amazing. It took me a while to find my host family but when I did they hugged me and gave me a stuffed animal bull because that's the animal that represents Torino! The car ride to Villarbasse was about 20-30 minutes and it was a little bit awkward because I don't know really any Italian at all.. my family knows a little English but they spoke to each other in Italian and I was totally lost. Every now and then I can understand a few words and sentences. We got home and I love it, my host moms 2 sisters are our neighbors it's the classic huge Italian family! My host sister, Federica's boyfriend came over and we all had dinner together. Dinner in Italy is a long event, one course is brought out at a time and there is lots of conversation. No one is in a rush like in America, everyone's just there to enjoy each others company and eat some delicious food. My host dad is so funny and reminds me of my real dad! He looked up all these Eagles and Bee Gee's songs on youtube and was making me guess the names of them! lol oh and I'm definitely going to get fat.. First course was cantaloupe and prosciutto, there's 2 kinds of prosciutto in Italy, one that's cooked and one that's raw. We had the raw, salty kind, it was so yummy. The second course was lasagna, the 3rd was steak and tomatoes. Then for desert my host aunt made me a beautiful cake! The rest of the family came over for desert or stopped by to say hello. My one aunt and uncle have 2 sons: Alberto, 14 and Alessandro, 19 and Alberto's friend Georgio said hi too, then my other aunt and uncle also have 2 sons but they are much younger and I can't remember their names :/ Also my grandmother stopped by. It's just like how I imagined an Italian family to be like, they are so close-knit and live next door to each other! As a joke my aunt told me to recite all 50 states in alphabetical order but I actually learned a song in 3rd grade, so I sang it for them and they were amazed! lol After desert, I went to take a shower but I accidentally locked myself inside the bathroom and my host dad had to come and get me out. It was so funny, he was like "We're gonna loose you on the first day!" My family is so sweet they keep telling me that I should do whatever I want! They say it over and over again!

Getting on the train to Torino
Train ride
Unpacking my room!
All of the exchange students and their host families at the train station in Torino!
My host sisters and the cake my family made for me <3
Today, Federica was gone, she goes to college in Milan during the week and only comes home on the weekend. My host dad went to work and my younger sister, Nini went to her first day of school so it was just me and my host mom in the morning! We went to my school and I met my tutor she's so nice, I start school on Wednesday at 9 am! My cousin Alberto is going to the same school so we're going together! I'm excited but also super super nervous!! It's SO IRRITATING because I don't know any Italian and most of my family doesn't know English very well. I'm pretty sure they think I am just really quiet and shy because since I don't know what they're talking about half the time, I don't talk alot! It's soo annoying. I just want to be fluent already ): I start Italian lessons twice a week after school next week in Torino so hopefully that helps! Then today we went and got me some permit thingy to live here then checked out the city from the top of a mountain, bought some pane (bread) and pizza then picked up mio sorella (my sister) Nini from scuola secondare (middle school). We had pizza for lunch at it was delicious, much better than American pizza! It's served cold or room temperature and it's not greasy at all, I really like it! Now I'm just kind of relaxing in my room, I think I'm going to take a nap or do some Rosetta Stone. I'm exhausted from the past few days ):

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