Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Thanksgiving in Italy!

Ciao tutti! Things are going really well here. I'm really proud of how much my Italian has improved. Of course I'm still not fluent but I'm honestly amazed by how much I've learned in just 3 months. It may not seem like a lot, I still speak extremely slowly, make lots of grammar mistakes and can't understand absolutely everything yet. But if I think back to when I first got here and I knew absolutely nothing besides ciao, spaghetti and pizza, I've made so much progress. Italian is becoming my instinct now, little words are just automatic for me, I just naturally say perché instead of because or ciao instead of yes. I feel like I'm going to go back home to the U.S in July and it's going to feel so strange to always speak in English..

I'm so happy that I was able to celebrate Thanksgiving here! Of course, no one celebrates Thanksgiving here because it's an American holiday. No one knows about Thanksgiving at all, I told all my friends at school that it was Thanksgiving, some didn't know what it was and most thought that it took place during the summer! Anyway, I wasn't really planning on doing anything for Thanksgiving. I figured I'm in a foreign country so I should just adapt to their culture and forget about Thanksgiving. But my American friend Kaylin thought we should make a turkey dinner for our host families! Her mom sent all the ingredients and recipes from the U.S and we pre-ordered a turkey from a butcher here! It turns out, 2 girls cooking an entire Thanksgiving meal is a lot of work!! Last Wednesday and Thursday we spent the whole evening backing pumpkin and apple pies and making home made noodles. It was so nice, we blasted Justin Bieber's Christmas album and cooked up a storm (: Then on Friday we got to leave school an hour early so we could cook the turkey, potatoes and everything else! On Friday night, my host family came to Kaylin's house and we had our Thanksgiving dinner! The meal didn't start until about 8:30 and all the food couldn't fit on the table so Kaylin and I took on the roles of waitresses and served everyone. Of course, as the tradition goes, before we served everyone their meals we went around the table and said what we were thankful for (in Italian of course). The dinner lasted at least 4 hours! There was sooo much food! Surprisingly everything turned out to be delicious! I was wearing a really tight skirt and after eating my first plate of food I left the room and went and changed into jeans instead so that I could eat more food, I came back to the table in jeans and everyone was so confused and asked why I changed. I said "Ho voglio di mangiare ancora ma la mia gomma é troppo stretto!" (I want to eat more but my skirt is too tight!) I'm pretty sure everyone thought I was insane and my host mom said I'm going to need to go running more since I eat so much.. haha anyway my host family and I didn't leave Kaylin's house until after midnight. I was exhausted and super slap happy and the end of the night. Kaylin and I were just laughing about nothing and my little host sister gave us a weird look when we were laughing hysterically and I told her that I get crazy when I eat so much and she said "not only when you eat alot..." hahahhaa (: We got home from Thanksgiving dinner at around 1 am and I was dead tired the next day when I had to go to school but it was worth it! I'll never forget my Thanksgiving in Italy (: My host dad said that it was his favorite day of the year hahaha but no mom and dad back home, I'm not cooking Thanksgiving dinner again next year..... Way too much work!

Setting the table
With our turkey!
La mia famiglia italiana

The chiefs of everything!

Besides Thanksgiving dinner the rest of the weekend was really relaxing and fun! (: Minus school on Saturday of course where I wanted to kill myself... haha after school I came home and just slept all day because I was so exhausted from cooking and staying up so late. Then on Saturday night I went to Rivoli with some of my Italian friends from my class. It was a fun time! (: We just went to a cafe got some drinks then walked around for a while. On Sunday I slept in then went shopping in Torino with Kaylin. We both got a lot of Christmas shopping done! It was hilarious we seriously bought sooo muuch we were each carrying around like 4 humungous bags and everyone gave us funny looks. Then for dinner we got some sushi, it was heaven <3 I haven't eaten sushi since I've gotten here and I miss it so much! Afterwards Kaylin slept over, it was so much fun we made paper snowflakes, listened to Christmas music, wrapped presents, decorated my room, made puppy chow and watched Elf in Italian. I understand everything in Elf since I've seen it so much! I forgot to mention that on Monday we didn't have school because there was a festival called Santa Caterina in Rivoli. Kaylin, Nini and I took the bus into Rivoli to go to the festival. It was HUGE there was sooo many stands with food and clothes and just everything! Oh and we ran into a lot of people that we knew. I swear everyone knows everyone in this town! Except I'm so mad because all my friends told me that there were some really cool carnival rides at the festival but Kaylin and I couldn't find them anywhere!! We just walked up and down and looked at all the markets. Then at the end when we had to leave we saw the section with all the rides. We were soooo mad! I told all my friends that we couldn't find the rides and they think that we're like retarded now.. hahaha 

I think that's all for now! I need to start writing more because I want to write a posts about Italian food, school and the language! Next time! Now I'm off to wrap some more Christmas presents (:

Monday, November 19, 2012

Normal day in the life!

So I don't think I've ever described in major detail what my daily routine is! All my friends back home in the United States seem to think my life is extremely glamorous and exciting just because I'm in Italy but really, it's very normal! I'll go through everything that I do during a normal weekday (:

7:00 am - I wake up. It's nice that I'm able to wake up more than an hour later here. Last year for school in the States I normally woke up at like 5:45 am.. This is SO much better! Anyway after I wake up I brush my teeth, get ready for school, all the normal stuff!

7:30 am - I'm normally done getting ready by now so I go downstairs and eat breakfast. Normally Nini, my host dad and I eat together. My host mom is so sweet she gets up earlier than everyone else and sets the table for us every morning. For breakfast I usually eat a bowl of cereal and my host mom makes fresh squeezed orange juice for me too (: But cereal isn't really the normal Italian breakfast, The typical Italian breakfast consists of a cup of tea or coffee and cookies! I don't really like eating just cookies for breakfast, I feel like it's too early in the morning to eat sweet stuff so that's why I eat cereal instead! Sometimes I try to be Italian and eat cookies and coffee though but normally just cereal and orange juice!

7:45 am - I finish breakfast and go downstairs to the garage and go to school with my host cousin Alberto. I think I mentioned him before but he's 15 and in the grade below me at the same school. Every day it changes how we get to school, either my host aunt Elena (Alberto's mom), my host mom or Alberto's friends parents drive us. We always pick up 2 of Alberto's friends on the way to school as well.

8:00 am - The time we arrive at school depends on how much traffic there is but normally we get there at around 8. I walk into school and go to my classroom 3F on the first floor of the building.

8:15 am - The first class starts. We have 5 hours of school with 5 different classes that change everyday! But I'm not going to go into too much detail about school right now because after this post I'm going to do another post just about school!

1:10 pm - School finishes! Whooo! What I do after school changes depending on the day of the week:

Monday is usually a lazy day because I'm always exhausted from a busy weekend with probably no sleep. After school my host mom picks me up then I go home and eat lunch with my host sister and mom. Normally we eat at around 2 pm and have a pasta dish first, then some type of meat and vegetable! It's always delicious, I'm going to do another blog post about Italian food soon too. After lunch with them I take a nap for about an hour then go running, take a shower and after my shower I do my homework, Skype my parents and write my blog.

Tuesday I have an Italian lesson in Torino. After school I meet up with Sanni, my exchange student friend from Finland. We walk to Rivoli from our schools which is about a 15 minute walk. Then we take the bus from Rivoli to the subway which is a little over a half an hour. Then we take the subway to Torino which is about 20 minutes. We normally get to Torino at about 2:30 pm and go get pizza for lunch. There's a bunch of little pizza cafe's everywhere. The lesson starts at 3:30 and lately the lessons are becoming more difficult but I'm happy because I think I'm learning a lot more! Oh and the lesson finishes at 5.

Wednesday's are always different, some days I go to a friends house after school and hang out, some days I just go home and sleep, some days I go running. It really depends! Normally I go out for lunch with a friend though.

Thursday I have another Italian lesson, this lesson doesn't start until 4:30 though. So normally Sanni and I go to Torino after school eat lunch and walk around for a while shopping and just hanging out until the lesson starts. Then the lesson finishes at 6.

Fridays I have an Italian lesson at 3:30 but I'm always in a rush to get to the lesson on time because school finishes at 2:15 on Friday's. After the lesson finishes at 5 I normally hang out in Torino for a while with my friends and eat dinner with them. Sometimes I come home and hang out with my host sisters instead, it's always different!

Saturdays and Sunday's are never the same! (:

Okay now I'm going to tell you about what happened this week! I'm only going to talk about the exciting days though because you already pretty much know everything that happens during the week.

Monday 12th: This was an interesting school day.. (; So I went to school just like any other normal day but when I got there, Romero, the school next to mine, was holding another strike. It was super crowded outside the entrance of my school with people yelling and whatever. I found my classmates and we stayed outside for a while. They were all arguing about if we should go to school today or skip because of the protest. In the end everyone decided to not go to school (: YAY! Instead we all walked to a bar in Rivoli and got cioccolata calda con pana (hot chocolate with cream). It was delicious! Definitely a thousand times better than going to school.. ! After the bar we walked to the library because we were planning on being good students and try to study. But it turned out that the library was closed so we just sat at a table in the sun in a park and talked. It was a really good day (:

whooo no school!

Thursday 22nd: My package from my mom finally came from Ohio!! I was sooo happy (: It took so long for the package to get here because the first time it was sent back because my mom put my name on it instead of my host parents names. It was filled with random things that I forgot to pack like my Uggs, heels, a few pairs of jeans a hoodie and a bunch of halloween candy for my host sisters and I. Also my mom made me a scrapbook of the trip we went on last February to New York City! I explained nearly every single picture to my host mom even though I think she could care less about when I went to New York City... hahahha the package made my day so nice but also made me miss home a little bit ):

Saturday 24th: After school my friend Michela and I went out for lunch in Rivoli at my favorite restauraunt, Opificio! yayayyy! (: It was a really nice time, I haven't known her that long but Michela is already such a wonderful friend! We gossiped and just talked about everything, it was really fun and reminded me of hanging out with my friends back home! After we got some gelato then I took the bus home. As soon as I got home I rushed to take a shower and then my entire host family and I left for Torino. It gets dark sooo early here now at like 5:30 so it was really nice walking around Torino with all the Christmas lights. After about an hour I left my host family and met up with my friend Victoria in Piazza Castello. We then went to our friend Olivia's apartment and met up with a bunch of other exchange students. Then we walked around Torino, got some pizza for dinner and then went to a bar for some drinks. It was a really fun night (: My host sister Federica and her boyfriend Andrea picked me up at around 10:30 then we went to another bar and with all of my host sisters friends. It was such a great night! 

Everyone! <3 
Olivia's house 

Paula & Olivia love getting their pictures taken..

Sunday 23rd: I was supposed to wake up at 10 and go to an AFS meeting thingy but I kinda ended up sleeping until 12:30... hey it's my only day to sleep in all week!! haha but anyway after I woke up we ate lunch then my host mom and I went to this AFS meeting. It was a meeting for all the Italian kids who want to go somewhere next year with AFS. I was surprised just in the Rivoli chapter there was probably like 30 kids! I was kind of nervous cause I didn't think I would know anyone but I showed up and saw plenty of friendly faces (: All the local volunteers were there and Giulia, the girls whose house I went to for dinner a few weeks ago, saw me as soon as I got there and ran up to me and introduced me to all the other kids! Also Irene, my tutor's sister was there and Giulia an Italian girl who went to New York last year with AFS. I had a lot of fun (: I love Italians they're seriously so friendly and nice, when I got there pretty much all the kids gathered around me and asked me a million questions about life in the United States. It made me happy because there was a lot of kids who were interested in going to the U.S next year! They all asked if parties were just like Project X and American Pie. hahahaha (: Then we all sat in a circle and introduced ourselves and said our favorite t.v show, book and stuff like that. By the way all of this was in italian (; Then we played a trivia game where I got to ask the kids questions about the United States, I was surprised when I asked what the capital of Ohio was everyone said Cleveland, which is still wrong, the answer is Columbus but I couldn't believe everyone's heard of Cleveland! haha Then Giulia and another girl who went to Thailand last year talked about their experience and answered questions. It was a nice day! A bunch of the kids got my name and added me on facebook too so yay new friends! haha (: After the meeting my host mom and I went home and I studied for my math test the next day \m/ I'm so happy I can finally understand math in school!

Monday 24th: Okay since I have enough time I'm just going to tell you about my day today as well (: I took my math test and it was actually really easy! Of course, my test was easier than everyone else's because the teacher is super nice and doesn't want to freak me out but still I'm proud of myself for finally being able to participate in math class! After school today I met up with 2 girls from my Chemistry class and we went to my friend Alessandra's house to study for our Chemistry test on Wednesday. Alessandra and Michela are SO nice and so helpful! I can't emphasize it enough how friendly Italian people are. Alessandra and Michela would probably rather have studied on their own but instead they took their time to basically re-teach me everything that we've learned in class because I didn't understand anything. They're the best teachers! I now understand everything so much better! After studying Chemistry for maybe an hour and a half, we had some toast with nutella then hung out for a while (: I'm so happy everything's finally falling in place, I speak in almost only Italian and can understand almost everything, I'm finally understanding what's going on in school and making lots of friends and going out a lot because my host parents trust me now (: Okay well ciao tutti! (:

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

2 months.. wtfff

November 7th, last Wednesday marked 2 months in Italy.. holy crap.. It seriously feels like I just got here! Time is going by SO fast. Almost too fast.. I'm finally reaching that point where thinking about returning to the United States makes me depressed. I honestly am so sad that I only have 8 months left. I feel like I'm going to wake up one day and have to go home! Okay anyway so here's everything that happened this week in my life! (:

Monday 5th: Today was kind of a crappy day ): I'm just starting to get overwhelmed with school because I can't understand very much and I'm expected to learn and study while I'm here. I just got really stressed out and felt like my Italian really sucks. I just feel like I'm getting so stupid here because I don't participate in classes very much and I'm scared that when I come home I'm going to be SO behind ): I've always gotten good grades and it's just so difficult for me now it's irritating. I skyped my mom and my friends and it cheered me up! My mom told me to just try and relax and have fun while I'm here and worry about school when I come home. I'm just going to focus on learning Italian for now and then once I'm fluent I'll start worrying about my subjects at school. This is a once in the life oppurtunity so I don't want to waste the whole time being stressed about school! After skyping with everyone I went on a killer run, I felt like I was going to pass out at the end but it felt so good. Running always relieves my stress (:

Tuesday 6th: Today was election day in the United States! The election is not only a big deal in the US but also in Italy. It's all over the news and radio, I'm so proud to be an American because I really think many other countries look up to us. My Danish friend Victoria said that in Denmark everyone looks up to the United States and everyone thinks it's really cool that she's friends with me since I'm American (:  It feels a little strange not being home for the election but for the last election I was living in Australia so I'm used to it! Anyway, today I didn't go to school yayayyyyy because my host mom and I had to go to the immigration center in Torino so that I can finally get my permesso soggiorno (my permit to live here for a year) It was so funny Monday night I guess I forgot to close my shades of my window so my bedroom was freezing at night. My host dad came into my room and gave me an extra blanket, I was half asleep but woke up for a second and said "Grazie!" So hopefully that means I'm starting to dream and think in Italian.. I don't know it probably doesn't actually mean anything but whatever. Anyway so I didn't go to school but I still had to get up early at like 7:30 so that we could get to the immigration center early and try to beat all the traffic. Sadly that plan completely failed.. we were stuck in traffic the whole drive to Torino. My host mom was swearing and yelling at other drivers in Italian, it was pretty entertaining haha once we got there we waited maybe about 2 hours :/ but it wasn't so bad! My host mom and I spoke in Italian and I'm proud to say that I really think I've improved a lot! I can have basic conversations with someone if they speak slowly. But still when I'm with a huge group of people and they're all speaking to each other super fast I don't understand crap... but whatever little progress by little! When I got my permesso soggiorno, the lady asked me who I prefered Romney or Obama! The whole world really pays so much attention to American politics. Most Italians prefer Obama. After getting my permesso soggiorno we met up with my host dad at his office and went out for lunch at a cute little cafe near his office. It was yummy I got pollo fritta (fried chicken) e pasta! Then I took the metro to Porta Nuovo and met up with my friends Victoria, Olivia and Sanni. We got gelato and walked around Torino for a bit then went to the lesson. Since it was such a nice day we had the lesson outside in the sun! Then the sun went away.. so we went to a caffe and I got hot chocolate (: The lessons are almost too easy for me sometimes so I'm going to see if I can start going to the other groups lessons which are more advanced because I want to become fluent as fast as possible! After the lesson I took the bus home and I saw one of my friends from school! It was a nice finish to a good day of no school (:

Finally legal in Italia whoooo!

Wednesday 7th: So Obama wins again! haha but anyway, today nothing exciting happened at school! Then after school I met up with my American friend Kaylin in Piazza Martiri and we went to the Italian version of McDonalds for lunch. I forget the name of the restaurant but they have burgers and chips and it felt pretty American! I forgot what a burger tasted like I haven't eaten one in so long. Of course we lost track of time and ended up running to catch the bus to Kaylin's house! But thankfully we just made it! Everyone was staring at us as we ran to make the bus on time. Kaylin lives in another small city near Rivoli called Buttigliera. It's a little bit bigger than Villarbasse where I live. We took the bus back to her house and then hung out. We studied some Italian together and attempted to do some Italian math homework... Then we made home made cappuccino's. Kaylin had a jar of peanut butter that her mom sent her from the U.S because in Italy they don't have peanut butter! So we decided to take spoon fulls of the peanut butter and dip it in our cappuccino's. Beatrice, Kaylin's 15 year old host sister thought we were completely insane! She was like, "You dip the peanut butter in the coffee!?" We watched an episode of gossip girl online in Italian and I was able to understand absolutely everything I was so proud (: but the only reason I can understand everything is because I'm obsessed with gossip girl and I've seen all the episodes like 5 times so I just remember everything that they're saying... We ate dinner with her host family and then my host mom picked me up. It was a really nice afternoon, I kind of felt like I was back home in the U.S.A (: Oh and this was the day that marked 2 months in Italy! I can't believe it's already been 2 months, I still feel like I just got here. I don't want to go home in 8 months! ):

Thursday 8th: This was such a fantastic day!! (: Me and my class 3F, my chemistry class 4A and a few other 4th year classes went on a gita (field trip) to Diga di Place Moulin, which is one of the biggest dam's in all of Europe. It's in a small city called Bionaz in the northwestern region of Aosta Valley in Italy, very very near France! It was so beautiful, it felt like a dream, the skies were just so blue and the mountains had a layer of snow on them. I love all my classmates too, I'm finally able to talk with them in Italian and I'm starting to get really close with everyone (: We left from Rivoli at 7 for the field trip, it was so early! Then drove 2 on a huge tour bus to the dam. I sat with a girl from my class and we spoke only in Italian for pretty much the whole bus ride! I was so proud (: Once we got there we took a tour of the inside of the dam, honestly I understood pretty much nothing of what the tour guide said in Italian :/ I understood that from this dam they send out water from the lake to all different cities in Italy but that's about it... After the tour we went back to the bus and drove to a teeny tiny restaurant in the town for lunch. My host mom packed me panini's so I ate those, we spent maybe an hour at the restaurant just relaxing, playing fooseball, taking lots of pictures and just hanging out. I'm so happy with my class everyone is extremely nice and we get along so well (: After lunch we took another tour of the actual lake where the water comes from. We went down into a narrow dark damp tunnel and had to wear helmets. The tour guide said if our hats fall off our head then the world will end.. hahaha of course my friend Sarah's hat fell off so I was like, "Oh no the world's going to end!!" everyone thought it was so funny. I love it everyone here thinks I'm like hilarious whenever I say something in Italian. Probably because my grammar sucks so it's not right and I have a major American accent so I pretty much just sound like an idiot! After the second tour we drove home but stopped at a cafe for a bathroom break. We got back to Rivoli at around 7:45 my host mom picked me up and I went home. It was a long day and I was exhausted but it was sooooo much fun! I wish I could go on field trips with my class every day instead of school! (:

Elena & Federico <3 
The mountains <3 
La diga! (the dam) 
Our super cute helmets (; 
Bus ride! 
Fabio! (: 
Like a dream <3 

Ilaria, Martina, Federica and Sarah!

Our tour bus! 

Sylvia, Paula and Valentina!
Where we ate!
AHHH so pretty

Sarah! <3

Sarah, Elena & Sarah <3
Love them! 
Sarah & Sarah (:


The tunnel we walked through ahhhhh

Friday 9th: School was nothing special! After school I met up with Kaylin and we went to the Italian lesson in Torino together. Normally she doesn't go because she's with Rotary not AFS but I figured my Italian teacher probably wouldn't care so I invited her to come with us (: After the lesson Kaylin and I went to a really cool coffee place that was just like Starbucks! It's called Buster's and reminded me so much of Starbucks. I got a nutella frappe and it was delicious! We walked around Torino for a little bit and saw all the Christmas lights they put up! I'm starting to get really excited for Christmas, I think it's going to be so cool to experience it in Italy. Oh and we bought the book "Confessions of a Shopaholic" in Italian, I read the book a couple years ago so I'm hoping I'll remember what it's about and I'll be able to understand it! Kaylin and I are going to try and read it and help each other figure out what it says. I haven't started yet though.. haha anyway I bought a new purse, scarf and sweater from H&M! I need to stop shopping so much but I can't help it because everything in Italy so just so amazing! Ahh anyway, we took the bus and subway back to Rivoli at around 7 and then met up with some of Kaylin's Italian friends from school and went out for dinner at Opaficio, my favorite restaurant. It was nice we spoke in only Italian and I really liked Kaylin's friends they were nice. My host dad picked me up at around 10 and I went home.

A historical Christmas story is lit up all down one street in Torino (:
Whoo Christmas is almost here!

Saturday 10th: I went to school :/ I'm starting to get used to school on Saturday's it's not so bad I guess.. it's so short once it's done I normally forget that I even went to school. After school I walked with my friends Sarah, Federica and Federico to Rivoli to take the bus to Torino to meet up with my American friend Sergio. It was so nice when we were walking Federica told me, "Tu é uno di noi adesso!" (I am one of them now) because my Italian has improved so much (: On the bus I ran into 2 of my friends from my Chemisty class so I talked with them and then took the subway to Torino and met up with Sergio in Porta Nuova. It was raining the whole day but Sergio and I still have fun, I felt so cool because I knew my way around Torino perfectly and Sergio had no idea where he was. We got risotto for lunch at a cute little cosy cafe then walked around Piazza San Carlo, Piazza Castello, Via Po, Via Grabaldi and Via Roma. I ended up buying a new pair of black boots! yayyay (: After Torino we took a train back to Ivrea and met Sergio's host dad, he took us to a little restaurant for a dinner with Sergio's local AFS chapter. It was cool I got to see some of the other exchange students in his chapter and I haven't seen them since the AFS camp. The dinner was delicious we had polenta and meat and for desert a bunch of different pastries (: mmm é molto buona <3 It was so funny all the volunteers and host parents in Sergio's local chapter was serving us all these different kinds of desert wines. Me and Sergio were like wait isn't this AFS?! They just laughed and gave us some more wine. hahaha that's Italian people for you! After the dinner we went back to Sergio's house and just hung out and went to sleep!

Rainy day in Torino (:

Sunday 11th: We got up and went to this cabbage festival in a town called Montalto Dora. It's a small town near Ivrea and I guess this time of the year they grow some of the biggest cabbages in Italy so of course there's a huge festival! It was cool there was so many different unique foods and we tried so many different things! I got cabbage ravioli and it was surprising really yummy. At around 4 I took the train home from Ivrea to Porta Nuova all by myself (: I was so proud because I had to change trains at one train station! It was so funny when my train pulled up to Porta Nuova I saw my host parents waiting for me and then I saw that the train across the tracks was just taking off and my host sister Federica was on it leaving for Milano! Anyway, the weekend was perfect, I had so much fun and I'm so happy that my host parents and AFS finally let me go visit Sergio and spend a night there, they're finally starting to trust me and let me travel alone I'm so happy! (:

Well that's all for now! Oh I just remembered this random thing, one time an Italian asked me why I'm always smiling and laughing and then she was like, "Oh wait I know why, it's because you're American!" It was probably the best compliment I've ever gotten. I'm so proud to be American and I love my country so much! <3 haha sorry if that sounds so stupid! That was random but just figured I'd mention it! Okay ciaooo! (: Baci (kisses)