Monday, February 18, 2013

La bella vita

Hey everyone! So the past couple of weeks have been crazy busy ever since I got back from Venice! I honestly couldn't be happier with my life here <3 It's been over 5 months since I got here and I can't believe that there's only 5 months left. It scares me sometimes thinking that half of my experience is over already. I'm never going to be able to relive this year again so I'm making the best of it and trying to live every moment! I've gotten really close to my Italian friends and sometimes they'll just randomly say things like "Jackie how are we going to survive without you?" It makes me sad but happy at the same time because I've made such amazing friends. Anyway I'll run through everything that's happened in the past couple of weeks!

After Venice I had a week of school and then we got off for le vacanaze di carnevale! Our last day of school was Thursday and then Thursday night I went to a disco. Friday night was my little host cousin's 10th birthday so we went to my host aunts house for cake. Then Saturday I went to an exhibition on cars with Federica, Angie and his cousin Vin who was visiting from Sicily! There was an italian ferrari police car which I thought was pretty sweet lol then afterwards we went and met up with Federica's friends and went out for dinner at the buffet restaurant. It was DELICIOUS! You only had to pay 10 euros for a drink and as much food as you wanted. We went up to the buffet like 49147529451245 times hahaha then after we went to Torino to one of my favorite cafes and got some hot chocolates! Also Federica's friend, Ariana's boyfriend was visiting from Sicily too. It was kind of awkward at dinner because I was having a little trouble understanding the Sicilian accents of the 2 guys! It's like the equivalent of a Southern American accent. The first time he asked me something I just looked at Federica with a scared face cause I had no clue what he said hahahaha but after a while I understood the accent a lot better! I hope when I go to Brindisi in Puglia in April I'll be able to understand!

Ferrari italian police car!

We're such fatties.. haha

On Monday my Italian friends and I were supposed to go to Milano for shopping but it ended up snowing a lot and a lot of the trains were delayed. I was reallyyyy mad. But they promised me that we'll go to Milan another weekend! But instead of going to Milan me and my friends Ilaria, Sara and Federica went to Torino for shopping and McDonalds. Holy crap Italian people LOVE their McDonalds.. Sara ate a big mac, large, fries, diet coke, mcchicken and a cheeseburger.. hahaha

On Tuesday I went to Ivrea for the Battle of the Oranges carnevale festival! Basically it's a yearly festival where there's about 20 teams who throw oranges at each other. It's more organized than that though. Each team has a designated street or square where they stay and wait with all their oranges ready. Then there's 10 other smaller teams that ride in a horse drawn carriage through all the streets and squares. The people on the carriages get to wear masks and they're all like really strong tough men. Anyway the carriages ride through the streets and stop in each area belonging to a team for a couple minutes. In that time the teams pelt oranges at the people on the carriages. I guess there's people who vote on which teams threw the oranges the strongest. They do this for 3 hours for like 4 days! Each team has it's own kind of reputation. There was one team called PDA or something which stood for prima distruzione alcolica which means first consumption of alcohol, when we got to Ivrea at like 10 in the morning they were already wasted drunk and chugging wine and screaming "BERE BERE BERE" (drink, drink, drink) It was hilarious. At the carnevale people drank wine as if it was water, one of the teams took a time out and people brought them glasses of wine instead of water.. haha that's Italy for you! Anyway there was exchange students from all different cities in Piemonte and Valley d'Aosta so it was nice seeing some familiar faces! As soon as we got to Ivrea I noticed the really strong smell of oranges.. hahaha AFS told us that we had to stay with them in this designated area and wear these red caps that signified that we were tourists so that way no one would throw oranges at us. But my friend Sergio who lives in Ivrea was on an orange throwing team and told me to come with him instead. I didn't wear the red cap and I actually got to participate in throwing the oranges! I didn't have the uniform like everyone else on the team but I snuck in with the team anyway. haha you're supposed to pay like 80 euros to be on a team so I wasn't allowed to take any oranges from their huge stock instead I just picked them up off the ground. I was kind of scared because there was people everywhere with black eyes.. I just covered my face with my one arm and then I had like a shoulder bag filled with oranges and I threw them with my other hand. It was such a weird but fun experience! After the first couple carriages I was like "hey this isn't so bad! I'm haven't even got hit really bad or anything yet!" then seriously like the second after I said that an orange pelted me right in the face.. My right side of my face was like numb for a couple minutes. I took a little time out and discovered I had a bloody lip. But it wasn't so bad just a little cut! Then I went back and threw some more oranges. By the end I was completely covered in orange juice and my hair was sticky and disgusting. There was so many squished oranges on the ground it was like a soup! We took the train home and my friend Sanni and I tried cleaning ourselves up a little in the bathrooms but it didn't help a lot.. Then I had to take the metro and bus home ALL BY MYSELF. It was seriously sooo embarrassing because I smelled and looked like an orange (I borrowed my host moms old orange coat which was like WAY too big on me) and my boots were covered in orange gush and my hair was disgusting.. I got some pretty strange looks and not to mention the bus was a half and hour late and there was this insane man screaming at the bus driver! Oh well it was a moment I won't forget! My host aunt picked me up from the bus stop and took me home with her sons who are 10 and like 5 and they were laughing and saying that I smelled like an orange the whole car ride home hahahha (: Once I got home I took the longest most amazing shower ever! Then Wednesday the school break finished and I was back at school :'(

Oh I forgot to mention there was a parade that was a break between all the orange throwing!

Me in the bright orange jacket doing my best to throw oranges at the carriage! I really stand out amongst all the uniforms hahaha 
Oranges were being thrown at us while we were taking this picture.. hahha

yummmy orange soup!

Wednesday night my host mom and host aunt got home from London! They were gone for 3 days for a little vacation. My host aunt messaged me on facebook and told me to go out on the balcony because she had something for me.. I went out on the balcony and she handed me a HUGE pile of Reese's!!!!!!!!!!!! (: I started screaming "Oh madonna santa!!" (Oh my god!!) hahaha because I just finished all my reeses that my parents sent me in my Christmas package so this was perfect! <3

This past week there was 2 Indian AFS volunteers here visiting from India. On Thursday all of the exchange students in Rivoli went and walked around Torino with the volunteers then we went out for dinner at a pizzeria. There was an Italian girl who went to India last year and I talked to her for quite a while. India just seems like a completely different world it was cool hearing about her year in New Delhi. Then on Friday night there was a "saving energy dinner" with AFS. Us exchange students had to make posters and do presentations about how we save energy in our countries. It was a little intimidating getting up in front of a huge crowd of people and having to speak in Italian.. and of course I had to go first since no one else wanted to. I wrote the speech before and Federica corrected it for me and then I just read it word for word because I was so nervous! Some of the words were pretty difficult though and I had some problems pronouncing them.. haha but at the end someone came up to me and told me my pronunciation was fantastic! (: Everyone brought food so it was buffet style and it was soo yummy. There was also some Italian kids who do scouts which is like boy & girl scouts. At the end of the presentations 2 like 14 year old girls ran up to me and were like "Do you live near New York City!? Have you been there?! It's my dream to go there one day!! At school do you really have lockers just like in the movies!?" It was so cute (: Then on Saturday I went to my Italian friend Martina's house and we did our make up together then Federica, Sara and Ilaria came over and we went to our friend Federico's 18th birthday party at this discoteca called Twilo Club in Avigliana right on the lake. Federico and 2 of his friends rented out the entire club just for us it was pretty aweome (:

Yesterday I went with my host family and Nini's friend's parents to Aosta to watch them play in their tennis tournament! Nini won of coursee (: And Rivoli their tennis team won everything overall. It was funny the last game that determined the winner all the kids were chanting and screaming for their team. It seemed like the superbowl or something! Then we all went out for lunch and I got this delicious gnocchi! I think that's one of my favorite Italian foods. Then we went back to the tennis place and Nini and her friend Georgia played tennis outside for a little because the weather was so nice! It was really sunny so we all just pulled up chairs next to the tennis court and sat in the sun. I kind of fell asleep sitting their in the sun.. like I passed out, I was in a deep sleep. Then Nini's tennis coach woke me up, I looked around and no one was there sitting next to me! I freaked out for a second because I was still kind of half asleep and I was so confused because no one was there and I was all alone! The coach was like "Your family left you can either take the bus home with us and the rest of the tennis team or stay here!" I just liked kept yelling "No no no no!!" He thought I didn't understand so he explained it in English and I was like "no no I understood but I don't believe you this is a joke!!" He was like "No it's not a joke!" I got up and walked to the bar and started looking for everyone and one of the other coaches saw me and was like "They left you here!" And I was like "Nooo they didn't!!" People were all staring at me and though I was like a crazy woman hahaha I finally found everyone hiding behind the bar. It was so funny! Then last night I went out for pizza with my Italian friends for my friend Silivia's birthday! (:

Nini playing tennis!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Venezia per Carnevale !

Ciao tutti! So I got back from Venice on Sunday night! (: It was seriously such an amazing trip. This weekend Carnevale started in Venice so there was people walking around in costumes and masks the whole weekend. If you don't know what Carnevale is because my parents didn't.. it's basically like Mardi Gras and Halloween at the same time. Click on the link to read more about it on Wikipedia. Okay I'll go through everything that happened during our 3 day trip in Venice!

Thursday night my friend Kaylin came over for dinner and then slept over. We got to bed probably at around 1 am after packing and getting everything ready for Venice. Then bright and early Friday morning at 5 am we woke up to go to Porta Nuova with my host dad. We had to be there at 6:30.. We meet up with all the other exchange students and volunteers. There was about 20 kids from our Rivoli chapter, the Torino chapter and 2 girls from Alessandria. Then there was 3 volunteers, one guy who actually went to Ohio for a year and Miki our Italian teacher. The train ride was like 4 hours and I pretty much slept the entire time. We got to Venice then had about a 45 minute walk to our hostile with our suitcases but I didn't mind, walking through Venice was beautiful. The first sights of Venice were completely gorgeous. There's absolutely no cars or streets, just water and boats and gondola's. There's really no other city in the world like Venice. We walked up and down all the little tiny ponte (bridges) until we finally got to our hostile. We just dropped off our luggage in a closet since our rooms still weren't ready and then were off to Piazza San Marco, pretty much the center of Venice. San Marco is only about a 15 minute walk from our hostile, our location was perfect!We went inside the church in Piazza San Marco and it was so gorgeous, then we had some free time to just walk around, all my Italian friends warned me that there would be a bunch of pigeons in Venice and they were right! haha we bought some masks for Carnevale and put them on. Friday night we were allowed to go off on our own and do our own thing our curfew was just 1 am. I went with a group of my friends to Hard Rock Cafe. I was soooo excited to eat American food again for the first time in like 5 months. It was delicious <3 Then afterwards we went to a bar and then went back to the hotel.

Saturday we got up and went to Burano and Murano, 2 islands of Venice. The weather was horrible, it was pouring rain and there was really strong winds but I still had a lot of fun anyway! I think it's so cool how in Venice instead of using cars, busses, metros or taxis, you just use boats or gondala's for literally everything. There's police boats, taxi boats, everything. Anyway on Saturday we took a taxi boat to the 2 islands. First we went to Murano which is known for glass-making. We watched a little presentation of a guy make a class cup and a glass horse. It was cool and once he finished making the glass horse he lit it on fire. The presenter explained everything in Italian and then he realized there was a group of French tourists and so then he just switched into French and explained everything again, then there were some German's so he switched to German. I hope one day I'll be able to do the same! We grabbed some lunch at a little cafe in Murano, there were some men there speaking the Venice dialect and I could not understand a word.. it sounded really strange to me! Also the Venice accents are a little different too. I bought a couple glass bracelets for my Italian sisters and friends then we hopped on the boat taxi and were off to Burano! Burano's well-known for it's super bright and colorful houses. By the time we got to Burano the weather was about 10000x worse than it was before. I initially came to Venice with 2 umbrella's, I was well prepared because I knew that one umbrella I would probably end up loosing or breaking. However being the amazingly nice person I am I gave away both of my umbrella's to 2 of my friends who had forgotten umbrella's. I figured that I would just share an umbrella with someone but it wasn't that easy. Everytime I tried ducking under someone else's umbrella they'd end up poking me in the head or eye with the pointy part of the umbrella. So after a while I just gave up and went senza umbrella (without). In Burano I was completely drenched. It looked like I had taken a shower. But whatever, I didn't really care! I was in Venice! In Burano we walked around and took pictures of all the pretty houses for as long as we possibly could stand the weather. Then we found a cafe and got hot chocolate to warm up our freezing wet bodies. We got back on the taxi boat and went back to the mainland of Venice. Then the plan was to go to a museum but it wasn't open so we all started heading back to the hotel. Except somehow in the tiny narrow, extremely crowded streets of Venice our big group got separated  The group I was in was without any volunteers or anyone who knew where we were going. We were completely lost. I think I have bad luck when it comes to getting lost because every vacation I've been on in Italy so far I've gotten lost; the sea, the mountains and now Venice. At this point I was soaked, every single part of me was drenched with water. I was not happy. We wandered around the streets for probably like an hour until we found the hotel. Once we got there I changed into warm clothes and drank like 740450394469346 hot chocolates from the free coffee machine. Once everyone was warmed up we headed back out into Venice for dinner at a pizzeria with everybody. After dinner we had free time again until our curfew at 1 am. My friends and I saw this reggae music concert, it was hilarious. I'm not sure if the guy singing was speaking English or what.. it sounded like English but a really odd version sort of like "eyyyerybody" hahaha my friends and I all sang along and danced like idiots. There was one old man who I'm pretty sure was a pothead who was dancing like a maniac. It was interesting. Then we went to a bar and went back to the hotel.


Reggae concert hahahaha
The last day the weather was absolutely gorgeous! I wish it would've been like that all weekend but oh well, can't complain I went to Venice! Sunday was the official starting day of carnevale. There was seriously soooo many people it was insane, and there were people everyone in crazy costumes. It was such an amazing atmosphere. First we went to the museum that we wanted to go to on Saturday. It's called Palazzo Ducale. It was so beautiful inside! We weren't allowed to take pictures but I snuck a few anyway ssshhh (; lol then afterwards we went to Piazza San Marco and saw il volo dell'angelo which is the angel that flys down from the sky signifying the start of carnevale in Venice. Then we took a gondola ride!!! I don't know why but I've always wanted to ride on a gondola I think it's just so Italian. We took like the poor people version of a gondola though since pretty much all of us are broke. That's one thing about exchange students we're literally all always broke. But I loved the gondola anyway it was so pretty! Afterwards we took a boat taxi to a little tiny island just to take some pictures of Venice.  Then we got some lunch and went to the train station and went back home :( I was so sad to leave, it was one of the funnest vacations of my life with all my friends and it went by way too fast!

il volo dell'angelo ! 
Palazzo Ducale 

It was crazyyyy 

bye bye venice :'(