Alright so this last week has been all about Christmas. Which was really different from Christmas back home in Duxbury, MA. For starters my Christmas vacation in Italy is from the 21st til January 7th = O yes a very long break! Back home its only from the 23rd til January 3rd or something short like that. Anyways my vacation even started a day earlier than planned. On the evening of monday the 20th my brother came into my room and announced that there will be no school tomorrow due to snow. I looked out my window and saw lagit 5 inches of snow. I asked him if he was serious and he said yes, that Italy will cancel things due to small amounts of snow... Wow. Back home I heard there was 3 feet and my town was the only one that didnt have a cancelation or delay. So it was really nice sleeping in that Tuesday morning... and every morning so far = )

Some of the big downsides living in Italy is that they dont like using a lot of heat, dryers, dish washers, big cars or even using real christmas trees. They are very green here! So Ive been noticing that Ive been doing some serious layers up... a lot. Just hanging out in the house I wear two pairs of socks, leggings under my jeans, sweater, cardigan and scarf. Simply because they hardly even turn on the heat and the heaters are really small and there arent many in the house. My family also leave this small side door open so the cats can come in and out of the house. Brrr.
Then with the hole dryer thing... they just dont have them. Everything is washed with a washing machine then they pick an area in the house to hang dry the clothes. For me its our massive size bathroom. Ive learned that I have to be careful on what I put into the hamper becuase I wont be seeing it for a week or more. And then when my clothes are clean and dry that are cold, stiff and dont have the right fit... its hard to explain. You know when you take a shirt out of the dryer and it smells spring time fresh, its soft, warm and clings to your body perfectly? Well sadly this doesnt happen here = (
With the dish washers they will pile all the dirty dished on the counter (not in the sink) and wait until there is enough for a full load. Other wise they will wash them by hand. No half full dish washing loads here!
In Italy there arent any big cars... You will not see any soccer mom style suburbans that fit 8 people. They just simply dont exsist. Its all these tiny look a like cars that fit 5 sometimes only 2 people. Its probably because gas is super expensive here- about 7 dollars for a gallon! Also families are really small- most Italians only have 1 or 2 kids so theres no need for the big cars.
Finally with the fake Christmas tree... yeah its just sad. I rememeber my host parents said to me a few weeks ago that they wanted me to help them with the tree. I said okay lets go and buy one, and they said that they had already bought one. I asked where it was and they said it was in this box and the needed help assembling it. = O It was a total Charlie Brown tree but thankfully my mom has passed down a small amount of her interior decorating skills to me so I was able to spruce it up. We bought some very full cranberry garners and small sparkley red ball oriements. Then the final touch was stringed popcorn. For a tree thats on a budget it looked good to me!

Okay so onto my first Christmas in Italy. So the days before the 25th I mainly did some serious lounging around the house and hanging out with friends. In Italy Christmas time doesnt really mean family time... more like friend time. Very strange but true. Even on the 24th its normal for teens to go out late at night and then again on the 25th. For me this is just so weird, and that Christmas eve and day should really only be celebrated with family and very close friends.
So Christmas Eve I video skyed home which was really awesome to see my mom, brother and sisters, even my cat Jamal. It was weird seeing my house all decorated for Christmas and everyone just chilling out... I felt like there was something that was missing... me. After my lovley skype session, my sister and I saw the movie The Priness and the Frog which I loved and was able to follow along in Italian without any problems = ) Then for dinner me, my papa and sister got McDonalds. Normally Im happy with Mickey Dees for dinner but on Christmas Eve.... not so much.

Then the next morning was Chistmas Day, I was actually really excited that night and didnt sleep much. I had no idea what to expect for the day since my family didnt really tell me what the game plan was. So I woke up early (9 am) to my little cousins loudly talking and running around the house. I went into the living room and was wished a buon natale (merry christmas) by my mama and aunt nora. My little cousins were already ripping open the gifts my mom had sent them which they totally loved. When I looked at the tree I only saw the presents my mom had sent me from America... Turns out my family doesnt do the whole present thing. So my mama told me to open my presents which honestly was a bit awquard. Opening a huge pile of presents alone is kind of... sad in a way. Back home we open presents all together after church on the evening of the 24th. We all gather in our living home with holiday music playing, something that smells really good cooking in the oven and all of us tearing open the presents under the tree and showing each other what we all get in our new pajamas. (its a tradition to buy new pajamas for christmas eve) This year I was basically opening all my presents alone on Christmas morning in pajamas I hadnt worn in a while so they sort of felt new = p
While opening gifts my mama gave me a very cute pair of earrings that she said were from her and my papa. Their gift to me for Christmas was 5 sundays worth of skiing lessons! = D I dont really know how to skii or have anything for skiiing so this should be very interesting! I start after the first week of January and Ill be leaving the house at 5:30 am and hit the mountains with my brother and papa. Goodbye late saturday nights out and sunday mornings of sleeping in!! But Im really excited to learn how to ski, I know its going to be a really big challange but I know ill enjoy it!
So for Chistmas my mom did a totally amazing job at picking out things for me. I really think that I got the best Chistmas gifts out of all the years. The fact alone that Im in Italy is an amazing gift itself!! My mom and my sisters pick out some really cute clothes, shoes and jewlery which I was in despret need for! On Christmas eve I got a small package from Verona. Thats right, a gift from Federico = ) He sent me a gorgeous pair of swarovski diamond earrings which I really love; what girl doesnt love getting nice jewlery?? So overall the presents and ski lesson in Italy are an A+ in my book!! = )

So Christmas day in Italy includes of eatting, eatting, drinking, sleeping and eatting some more. Thats basically sums it all up right there. Christmas lunch is huge... like Thanksgiving times 3! After we ate I started to clear my plate and my family told me that we had only eatten the first course = O I was already so full... I dont know how Italians do it. Im almost 100% sure they have two stomachs or something. And there all so skinny, its uncommon to see a person of size over here.
The only down side of the lunch was that it basically was all seafood. Those who know me, know I am not at all a seafood fan. My host family knows that I dont like it since day one. So I tried everything, most I didnt like but I put a smile on and said that it wasnt bad even if I wanted to spit it out that second. In Italy Im trying really hard to try new food. Some things look really weird and gross but I try them anyways, sometimes they are surprisingly good other times its worse then I expected. Im thinking that I have a taste of a 5 years old since I prefer a cheeseburger or chicken finger and fries over some fancy seafood meal.
The rest of Christmas day included me, my brother and sister taking a really long nap after lunch, waking up eatting some more then playing board games with the family then going to bed.

The next day was Saturday so I video skyped to my cousins house in Wahsington D.C. where my family goes to from the 25th til the 29th. So I got so see my family again as well as my cousins, auntie and uncle. I really miss everyone back home a lot!! It seemed like total chaos in the house but Ive been noticing I prefer total craziness to a rather quiet home = p
Saturday night I went out with my friends to a local bar then we all piled into cars to head to a new bar that just opened. On our way there we went over a pot hole that gave us not just one flat tire but two flat tires. And we were in the ghetto of Italy around 12 am. Luckily I was mainly with males who look like they can take a punch so we didnt have any creepers bother us. We did have to wait an hour however for a tow truck. By the time the truck came we ended up going back to the local bar for an hour since the new one was too far away to go to at that hour.

Sunday was a total lazy day, I ended up watching a bunch of old school disney movies like little mermaid, lion king, alladin, and robin hood in Italian with my brother and sister. Then that evening I went to a really nice bar for happy hour with some friends. = )

Then today (monday) I took a train from Treviglio to Bergamo were I met some AFS friends like Michelle from Hong Kong, Ray from Canada, Erin from Oregeon, Katie from Alaska and Tonje from Norway. We all hung around Bergamo for a few hours, seeing the little city all lit up with christmas lights. We also went ice skating which I hadnt done in years. I knew that ice skating was like riding a bike, it just comes back to you. Well I put on the skates and took one glide and an untentional spin and did a lagit belly flop. Very embarassing but we all just burst into laughter when it happened. In the course of half an hour we all had our fair share of wabbles and falls. Luckily that was my only fall and after 10 minutes I finally got the hang of it = )

Tomorrow I think Im going back to Bergamo with the same people and going shopping since everyone but me has Christmas money burning a hole thru their pockets. = p
The the rest of the week Im not sure whats in store for me. For new years eve I was invited to Federicos house in Verona but I have to get special permission from my advisor so finger crossed everybody! If the trip to Verona is a no go ill be spending it with my brother and our friends at our house then probably after midnight hit the disco. So two very promising evening of fun!

Ill write again next week about the rest of my vacation. Theres also another holiday that comes after new years. I dont know to much about it, only that supposely a kind old women comes to peoples houses on a broom stick and bring presents to all the little children. I really dont know much about this holiday but when it does happen ill give you the full scoop! Until Next Time...