Home Sweet Home!

Alrighty so Im very happy to report that I made it across the pond a-okay! = )

Theres so many things happened in the these last two weeks, not all of which I would like to go into great detail about. So Ill quickly write about my Easter in Italy. Basicly my Easter was honestly very sad simply because I was away from home. I was really hoping for a flight back to the USA before Easter but my exchange program wasn't able to get a flight for me so I had to stick it out in Italy. My Easter consisted of a big family lunch of mainly seafood and pasta and lot of dark chocolate. We spent the day in my host families home and all the grandmas, cousins and my aunt and uncle were all gathered. We spent the day relaxing, chatting, playing mario cart, wii, and watching disney movies. Easter lunch was really similar to Christmas lunch- both HUGE!

These last two week Ive been on vacation because in Italy I had 10 full days of vacation. Sadly my host parents had to work most of the days so they didnt have any family trips for us. My brother and sister spent most of their time studying or going out with their friends. I tried to keep myself busy during the break by taking day trips with my friends to Treviglio, Bergamo or Milano. Since my parents were generally out of the house, I was forced to master the bus schedual so I could get to the train station to meet my friends. I was kind of bumbed with the weather because back in my home town majority of the days were 75-90 and sunny while in my town in Italy it was in the 50s and rained half of the days. During the week I tried to say as many goodbyes to all my Italian and exchange students friends. I'm finding myself hating goodbyes, and noticing that I tend to avoid them... When people say goodbye to each other, knowing its basically forever most people become emotional and start crying. I have never cried at a goodbye before, when I say goodbye to people I just think of all the good times we spent together. If I really want to see that person again Ill make it work.

Luckily I made it through the Easter break okay, the break was overall very long and rather awquard. Right before I left for the USA I got in lots of arguments with my host family. It was mainly because of the fact that I was leaving their family. They thought that I didn't care about them and cared more about my friends, boyfriend and home family than them. I just hope they know that I really do care about them, and staying at their home and joining their family was an amazing expierence and I appricate everything they have done for me.

My flight home was anything but quick and easy. It started on Tuesday the 6th with a car ride to the airport and a flight to Rome. I landed in Rome at night time where an Afs advisor picked me up and took me to a hotel to stay in for the night. He came back to my room at 4:30am and we headed back to the airport for my flight to Zurich, Switzerland. The flight over was short and painless. Although arriving in Zurich alone was a bit overwhelming. The airport is huge and there were tons of people from all over the world running in a million directions. Luckily I got to my plane okay. My flight to New York was rather... grueling. The flight itself was 8 and half hours long and I wasnt able to sleep at all! I got the middle seat so my seat neighbors consisted of a man who was flying over from Kenya to continue his running career in the USA. He was friendly but had never seen a blonde American girl in person before so he was very interested in me and my life... he even asked me if he could have my address which is polietly declined him. The other man sitting next to me was from Jeruselum. He was also very friendly and kind to me and offered me lots of candy and chips from his country. The downside to him was that he took up all of his seat and half of mine. The women reminded me the cast of sex and the city but dutch. They talked very loudly and put their seats all the way back for the whole flight. And to top it all off I had the pleasure of sitting in front of a three year old who entertained herself by kicking the back of my seat. Lovely. Why didnt I change my seat? It was a completly full flight = (

When I arrived in New York, I claimed my extremely large and overweight back and walked to the polar opposite end of JFK. I checked in a Jet Blue, changed out of my sweatpants and sweatshirt into some lighter clothes becuase it was a broiling 90 degrees in New York. Once I was in New York airport a giant wave of relief came over me. I went a little crazy in the gift shops and bought tons of snack foods and drinks I had been craving for the past 7 months. I pulled out my laptop and watched P.S. I Love You while I waited for my flight to Boston. When I arrived in Boston I lagit had ants in my pants about see my mom and sister for the first time. I raced off the plane and booked it to baggage claim where I had the most emotional and happiest hello in my life. The hug with my mom consisted of my bawling my eyes out while hugging her for about 5 minutes. Its strange how I can get emtional at hellos instead of goodbyes.

Being back in the USA is the weirdest yet most amazing feeling in the world. I really feel like my life in general has been on pause for the last 7 months. Everything seems to have stayed the same, my family is still so loving and sweet to me, my friends were all there ready to hang out with me, and school never seems to change. I feel like I have grown up and changed in ways I cant exactly describe... Im no longer the girl I was when I left. Ive grown up and become a more worldy, responsible and more mature person. So many times people have told me that my life is really amazing and that Im really lucky to be living such the great life that I have. It wasnt until I left my comfort zone and lived in a new place to see that my life is incredible. I live in a beautiful town in the USA, I have an amazingly loving and support friends and family, I was born healthy and I have so many opprotunities for my future right at my fingertips.

Now Im home and settled back into my life and it honestly feels so good!! I may write one more blog on my life back in the USA. I have prom and gradua
tation right around the corner. So Ill probably have one last blog about the end of my senior year. Im still trying understand everything that Ive done and learned while I was abroad. I really hope all my friends and host family in Italy are doing well and I miss all you of a ton!! So Until Next Time...


Fun and Sun in Sicily

Alrighty so I came home the other day from my really fun week in Gela, Sicily. The trip was with my exchange program and they like to call it exchange week. Basicly all the exchange students in Italy have the choice of picking one area they would like to visit for a whole week. Generally people from the north go south and vise versa. So when I was told about this exchange week I knew right away that I wanted to head south for some sun. A lot of my Italian friends told me that Sicily was a great place to visit, and they were totally right! = )

So Sunday afternoon I had a flight from Milan airport to Catania, Sicily. When I stepped off the plane I could immeditaly feel the warm air... it felt so good to defrost from the freezing weather! When I arrive in the Catania airport there were already the other exchange students who had chosen Sicily as well. Their was a total of 9 of us. The countries everybody was from included Germany, Tailand, Norway, Dominic Rep., Costa Rica, Finland and Australia so it was a nice mix of exchange students.
So we all piled our bags into a big van and drove over an hour so the opposite side of Sicily where we would be staying for the week. I have to admit, driving through Sicily when the sun is about to set is really amazing! Sicily has this giant volcano in Catania then everything inbetween Catania and Gela are hills of green grass, exotic flowers, palm trees and complete tranquility. When we arrived in Gelawe saw it was a small city right on the ocean. The only downside to the city was that it was covered in trash. Every street just has garbage all over the place. There were even mattresses just laying in the middle of the road. It was like the entire city had got rid of their trash cans and were using their city instead.

So the first night we were all divided into our host families. I stayed with a family consiting of a mom and 16 year old daughter. They lived in a big apartment that had a view of the water- not bad = ) I also got me own room, bathroom and the kitchen was always full of yummy snacks. I forgot how much I missed seeing the water everyday. Back in the US I see the water everyday on my way to school. Here in nothern Italy I see field after field and sometimes the mountains if its a really clear and sunny day.

So basically the entire week all the exchange students and our host siblings would spend the mornings site seeing around Gela. I have to admit that the site seeing in Gela was kind of a disappointment. The things we saw were kind of boring for us. For example we went to some free accient dig sites that were basically holes in the ground and didnt show much. We also went to the towns local basket ball court which was smaller than my high schools one. But since I was with all the exchange students we had fun anyways. In the afternoon we would usually go home for lunch and meet up later in the afternoon for gelato, shopping or a walk along the beach.

One of the days we took a day trip to Catania and Taormina. They are really accient cities full of ruins, old buildings and a lot of history. Both cities were right on the beach but of course the day we went it was cold and cloudy. Another day we were all on the local news and some of us were interviewed. I had never been on the news before so it was kind of cool seeing myself on tv. Then another day we had an interview at a local radio station. They asked us questions like how do we like Sicily, whats it like being an exchange students, and how is it different from our lives back home. I even talked about how I met my boyfriend, Federico in America and how we still together two years later in Italy. Overall we had a lot of publicity about being exchange students!

Overall the week was a lot of fun! It was interesting to see how the other side of Italy lives. I noticed that in Sicily people are a lot more relaxed about work and school, they feel family and friends are the most important thing. People in Sicily are also a lot more friendly and open than Northern people. Another plus to the south is that everything is a lot cheaper and people in the south eat a lot!! The only down side to the south is that its really dirty and there arent a lot of major cities like the north has. So overall a really good trip to Sicily, I got to expierence something new and meet some really amazing people who I was really sad to say goodbye to. With exchange studentd goodbyes are kind of different. For us we are sometimes saying goodbye to people forever. As much as we like to think that we will see them again its unlikely because they live on the other side of the world. So we try to make the most of our time together and just enjoy life.

Now Im back in Castel Rozzone and Im already on Easter break. My break is super long- its from the 28th of March until April 7th. Some things have happened in the last couple of months. Ive gotten really homesick and I feel like its time to return back to the US. Ive given it a lot of thought and I feel like I cant continue to live in Italy anymore. I miss my family and friends too much, esp my american mom. Shes the most important person in my life and living 7 months away from her has been really hard! My situation in Italy hasnt really been perfect. Im not really happy in my host families home, Im not allowed to see my boyfriend, and Im always feeling sad. I know that when I come back to the US Ill be happy again. My flight home is April 7th and Ill be back at school in the US Arpil 9th. My expierence in Italy has been overall amazing and life changing and I would totally do it again if I had the chance. I think I would have benefitted more if I was here just for a semester becuase being away from home for 10 months is a long time! Right now Im trying to say goodbye to all my friends and enjoy my last week in Italy. Ill write a final blog when Im back and settle in the US. So Until Next Time...


The Sound of Bagpipes Is In the Air

Alrighty so as most of you know I spent the last week in Edinburgh, Scotland. I must say that the trip was overall fantastic! It started with my class meeting at the school early Saturday morning and taking a giant coach bus to the Milan airport. The plane ride was about 2 hours long and we were greeted in Edinburgh by the famous sound of bagpipes. I havent expiernced seeing men wearing the kilt and playing bagpipes before, only during the 4th of July parade. So when we were in the airport there were a round of giggle as we were greeted by a young man in full kilt uniform. It just so happened that the rest of the trip we would regularly see men of all ages wearing the kilt outfit and the streets were filled with the sound of the bagpipe.

Anyways after we landed we were taken to our host family. I stayed with two other girls from my class. We stayed in a house that had an extremly strong resemblance to the house in Harry Potter on Private Drive. Basicly where I was staying there would be long streets with all the houses attached to each other and looking exactly the same. At night it was really hard to know which house was mine! My host family was very kind and sweet to me and my two friends. They had hosted a lot of other exchange students in the past so they were very prepared and hospital. My Scottish host mom was a part time chef so I ate very well while I was there!!

On day two all the students met up in the center of Edinburgh were we went to the Museum of Scotland and had a picnic in the park. The gallery would have been a lot more enjoyable if we hadnt been giving a very think and long packet to fill out. The afternoon we were free to explore around a little and do a some shopping. This is when me and a group of friends discovered the conviently close Starbucks. We ended up going to the same Starbucks everyday at least twice a day for the entire week. = p

Day three we visited the famous Edinburgh castel. The castel sits on top of a very large hill and overlooks the entire city. I havent seen many castels in my life but this one was definatly the best one yet. It was extremly old and very medival, and not to metion HUGE! I think we spent 4 hours just touring around the castel becuase there was so many rooms and exhibitions! I did get to see the display of the Royal Jewels which were amazing! Then we had our first day of school for the rest of the afternoon. School for me was extremly boring because the classes were very slow and basic. So I tried to pick up a few new British English words and help the other students with translation. We were told before the trip that we would have internet access while at school, but when we got there we were told that we wouldnt. So the entire week I was computer less. I had also lost my cell phone the day before I left so I really felt technologicaly isolated while there. = (
That night we had an underground tour of the city. It was probably the scariest things Ive done in a long time! Our guide was a bit crazy and scary herself. She took us to the old and more run down part of the city, then we went underground and went into series of rooms. They were rooms where people and animals use to live in. They werent really homes but more of caves. She told us that families of 30 would live in one room, most of them being criminals and a lot of murders and bad things happened in those rooms. Some rooms next to the ones where people lived were rooms for cows and slaughter houses. There was no lights down there, and the guide told us that these underground rooms were often flooded because its always raining in Edinburgh. The rooms all had this incredibly eery feeling to them, and they were only lit up by one or two candels. The guide told us lots of dark and scary stories about these rooms, it was overall a very scary expierence that I probably wont be doing again.

Day four we went to the cities royal botanical gardens and spent the morning looking around are all sorts of rare and beautiful plants and flowers. And we all ate lunch at on the gardens cafes. The afternoon we had school-- not very fun. That night we had a choice of going to the cinema and seeing Alice in Wonderland or to go bowling. I chose the movie because I really wanted to see it and it was in English. Im also horrible at bowling!! The movie was great, and the cinema theater was amazing, it was about 3 normal size theaters made into one. The movie was in 3D so it was overall fun!

Day five we went to the National Gallery of Scotland. It was a small but really amazing art gallery. It was filled with painting from the 17th-19th century and had artist like Velazquez, Monet, Van Gogh and Raphael just to name a few. For me the paintings were stunning and amzing to look at while other students found the gallery boring and not very interesting. The paintings ranged from wall to wall seens of war to seens from the crucifiction of Jesus and portraits of royal family members. That afternoon we had another picnic lunch in the park. The park was a really nice place to relax. It was near the main shopping street and had a view of the river and the castel. The park was also in bloom of yellow, white and purple flowers, so overall it was a great place to be in. Since it was our last night in Scotland most of the students stayed in the city to do last minute shopping and to eat dinner at Burger King.

Our last day we unfortunetly had two hours of school before our plane ride back home. Luckily my teacher made the lessons go by some what quickly. At the end of the lesson we all piled our bags into the coach buses and headed home. The flight back was smooth and I was back in my little town in Castel Rozzone later that night.

Overall the trip was great! Everyday was sunny which we were told we really rare for Scotland in the spring. I noticed the Scottish people were a combo of Americans and British people. They had the strangest accent which sometimes I even had a hard time understanding the lingo. Almost all of my friends said that they had a really hard time understanding what their families were saying to them. I did notice that I was speaking a lot more Italian while I was in Scotland. I was constantly with my Italian friends from school so I was kind of forced to speak Italian while I was there.
It was great to finally hear people speaking English. Even small things like menus, signs, and tvs were all in English so it was really comforting for me. Another thing that was good about Scotland was the food, it was really similar to American food and it was nice not to eat pasta and pizza everyday. All the desserts and sweets there were so yummy! I was definatly a little piggy while there because Scotland is famous for its short bread cookies and fudge!
I noticed the people of Scotland were all very kind people. While I was there I had a strong sense of good energy. The sun was out, people were friendly, it was overall all a good place to visit!

The other day I got a new cell phone which is really crummy but being phoneless is almost impossible for me. This is my last week at school because on Sunday I leave for Sicily for a full week. Ill be gone with my exchange program to expierence how the other side of Italy lives. Should be interesting! Then when I come home Ill be on Easter break for a week and a half. So next week Ill write a very delayed but full blog post about my week in Sicily. So Until Next Time...


Stoked for Scotland!

Alrighty so I know this blog post is a disappointment in the making because its going to be very short! I honestly dont have any thrilling or entertaining stories to write about because since I last blogged a week ago nothing big has happened = (
I will however fill you all in a some small headlines.

Last week for three days the teachers at my school didnt teach their classes. It wasnt a strike but theres actually a name for it... in Italian... but I cant rememeber it = ( anyways basically the upper classman (4th and 5th year students) divide the 1st-3rd year students into big groups. We all sat on desk and talk about things that effect our lives. It really ranged from media influence, drugs, universities, abuse and will the world really end in 2012. I have to say that these group activites were rather boring. Probably because they were all in Italian and when 10 different students are trying to talk over each other its hard to understand everything there saying.
After our group meetings they would have different movies playing for the last two hours of school. All the movies were about topics similar to what we discussed in our groups. By the end of the school day I must say that I was really tired!! So much Italian for one school day!!
Nothing really happened on Saturday night because I was suppose to go out with friends but decided to take a 20 minute nap which turned into a 3 hour nap... So of course my cell phone was on silent so I slept through my Saturday night... lovely.
Sunday morning I took an early train to Milan to meet one of my good exchange student friends. His name is Hakancan (pronouced like haaak-an-john) and hes from Istanbul, Turkey. His English is perfect and is really nice and normal = ) We spent the day walking around the streets of Milan, talking about our lives back home, here and over all exchange student things. We did a bit of window shopping since neither of us had money burning a whole in our pockets. I never really noticed how much window shopping and "just looking"could be so frustrating. You always see something you love, dont have money for it and think oh Ill come back. But if you do come back they no longer have it.
I was planning on staying late in Milan and meet up with more exchange students but it was starting to rain, and Milan and rain dont mix! So Hakancan took me to the train station and I headed back to Treviglio where I met me good friends Ray and Michelle for coffee. The three of us hadnt been together for.... a very very long time!! Theres just a huge comfort in talking and hanging out with other exchange students, esp ones that speak English. The three of us agreed that going long periods of time with out seeing each other is no good. So we decided that every Tuesday we will met in Treviglio for lunch to catch up with each other = )

This week my entire main class of 3I has been having a serious case of "ants in their pants". Were all super excited for our class trip to Edinburgh, Scotland and are having a hard time focusing on anything else. Yesterday one of my classmates asked if I had packed already... I was think "well today is Monday and we dont leave until Saturday so thats going to be a no." That doesnt mean that I havent thought about what clothes to bring ; )

That all the news I have for now, sorry this blog was super short and rather fruitless! Im not 100% sure if I will have internet access in Scotland. So Im thinking that Im going to have to skip my next weeks blog post but will write a super lengthy one when I come home. So Until Next Time...


From Tears to Smilies

Allora, so rememeber the end of my last blog, where I said that I might be going to Torino? Well Im happy to report that I got my wish and celebrated my boyfriends 20th birthday in Torino = )
So basically last week was the most stressful and pain in the bum week of my stay so far. It started off with me getting my first and hopefully only bad grade in English. I know what your thinking, how could an American student get a bad grade in an English class in Italy. Well when your at the hardest public school in your region and your teacher is British and give wicked hard exam than yes it is possible. Im relizing more that ever that American grammer and Bristish grammer are very very different!!
The next bad thing that happened last week was that my debit card just stopped working. This was because the bank I belong to in the USA upgraded my card to a visa. Normally there is a 60 day trans-action period where you can use both cards. Well my new card came late from the bank so my old card automaticlly stopped working. Kind of embarassing when you go to pay for something and your card continues to decline over and over.
Last week I had a few big payments to cover for. The first being my hair cut and color at this tre tre chic salon in Milan. My host mom had made the appointment weeks ago for her, my host sister, aunt and I to get new looks together. Sort of a girls afternoon. Anyways I had to borrow money from my host parents for the hair cut. The other thing I had to pay for were my plane tickets to Sicily, and pay for my train tickets to Torino... Luckily the day before I left for Torino a lovely package had arrived at my house with the new visa inside. I think I literally let a big Haaa Zaaa... !!! out because everything was going to horribly and I was so happy to see everything starting to fall into place. So in the end I was able to take care of all my expenses and my mom had stuck in the package Federico birthday present and a new outfit for me to wear. (Thanks mom!!) I also had a nice surpise from my GML- she had sent me a sweet and very pink card for Valentines day and a mini kitkat bar = )

So Saturday I brought my over night bag to school and took a bus to Trevilgio from school but sadly took the wrong bus. I swear me and public transportation arent mixing well here!! So I had to get off a a random stop and walk about 20 minutes to the train station. It didnt help that I had to carry my school bag, over night bag, Federicos present and a small birthday cake that Id made the night before. So of course I missed the fast and direct train to Torino, and had to wait a while for a regular train to Milan then change trains and take the super slow one to Torino. The entire trip from Treviglio to Tornino took about 3 hours instead of 1 1/2. Rats!
Anyways I arrived in Torino safe and sound and spent a great saturday afternoon and evening in Torino with Federico and his close friends. Fed had lived in Torino for almost all his life, so a lot of his close friends are there and they were happy to give me a tour of their amazing city. I wasnt really expecting much, but Torino completly blew me out of the water! I think its the most beautiful cities Ive been to so far. Its surrounded by the Alps, the buildings have amazing arcitecture, so many beautiful plazas, endless museums, and the city had all the same stores at Milan so the shopping was to die for. The other nice thing about the city was that there werent a lot of tourist, homeless people, or street venders. The city was very clean and just had a very safe feeling to it. Definatly one of Italys well kept secrets!!
So after our little tour of the city we had a really nice birthday dinner and after spent all night and most of the morning at a club in the center of the city- very fun. I even ran into a couple of American AFS exchange students who live in Torino. I hadnt seen them since September in New York so it was a really nice surpirse! The next morning we all slept in til 2 in the afternoon, ate lunch and were out the door to catch the evening fast train home. Before we went to the train station me, Fed, and his friends drove to the top of this hill to see the city... it was an absolutely stunning view!!
Now Im back at school but this of school is really different from the others. In Italy they have 3 days where the students run the classes instead of the teachers. Its kind of strange but today was the first day of it and we basically spent 2 hours being divided into large groups and talking about things like drugs, alcohol, will the world really end in 2012, how is the mafia effecting Italy. Just generally things and we sat on desks and just talked openly with each other with having a teacher lecture us. Then the fifth year students had movies set up in different classroom. I think there was about 4 different ones to pick from, one was even playing in English = ) So tomorrow (wednesday) and thursday school will be like this, kind of a nice break from the ordinary. The plus side is that school is sort of optional on these days and we get out 30 minutes early.

This is my last weekend here before I leave for Scotland for a week. Ill probably hang out with some friends that Ive barely seen all winter since Ive been skiing every weekend or in abother city. Im hoping the weather will shape up, Im really getting sick of cold and rain everday and feel like its starting to effect my mood. Then again Scotland is known for is cold, windy and wet weather = P
This past week was definatly a learning lesson- that not everyday or week is going to go according to plan. Also that I should try my hardest not to get all worked up and annxious when things to fall out of plan. Sometimes its best just to take a step back, look at the situation, and figuare out a new game plan instead of having a total melt down. This is something Ive always struggled with and I think Im starting to get a little better at it.

Nothing else to report here, so Until Next Time...


San Valentino!

Okay so as we all know Valentines Day was on Sunday. Its sort of a day that you either are completly looking forward to or completly dreading. Luckily for me these last three Valentines Days have been great becuause I got to celebrate them with my boyfriend Federico. Our first date ever was on Valentines Day two years ago. I had only known Fed for about a week and he asked me to dinner with him and his host parents. We went to a restaurant that was filled with older couples. I was pretty sure we were the youngest people there! That night I got to know him, and he got to know me a lot better. I remember the food was Italian style so of course it was yummy and for dessert we had Terimisu, which basically turned into our dessert every time we went out for dinner.
Last year I was in Rome on a school trip during Valentines Day. I told Federico that I would be there and he took a 6 hour train ride to see me for the weekend. He picked me up and took me to a little restaurant were we shared a big plate of spaghetti. After we went to the Trevi Fountain and he bought me some red roses. After we walked around the streets of Rome hold hands. After we met up with the other Americans from my school and the Italian students hosting us. We all went to this really famous disco and danced all night.
This year I took a train after school on Saturday and headed off to Verona for 24 hours. The day before my mom had sent a very sweet Valentines Day box to me. It was filled with all sorts of goodies from mini chocolate boxes, to heart shaped lollipops, to swedish fish. She even stuck in a box of brownie and cake mix with a giant can of frosting and festive sprinkles. Thanks Mom!!
Federico picked me up at the train station and we had a picnic in a park overlooking all of Verona. After we had tea and cake with his family. I have to say I really stick out compared to Federicos family. They are all tan, dark hair, dark eyes and just an overall incredibly good looking family. After we went to the top of this hill to watch the sun set over the city. That night Feds parents, his older sister, her boyfriend, me and Fed went to the opera. They played all these romantic love songs, and a good chunk of them were in English = ) After the opera me and Fed went to a new restaurant that had just opened. They made pizza Naples stlye so it was wicked good! After dinner Fed took me on his motor bike to see the city all light up at night and we stopped by at Juilets house that was completly packed. We went back to his house and woke up early that Sunday morning. Federicos dad had bought tickets for Fed and himself to see Federicos favorite soccer team play in Torino. To get to Torino by car it takes a very long time- a solid three hours. So we ate breakfast and were out the door by 10am. They dropped me off at my house since I was on the way. We kissed goodbye and were thinking wow, another great Valentines Day! = )

So for me you could say that Ive been really lucky with Valentines Day so far!!

Other news- With school Im doing good, not as great as I hoped but I cant complain considering Im at an extremely competive school. I just found out in Gym class that dont grade you on effort but your actual talent in the sports were playing. So for the past month we have been playing volleyball. Back home its not a school sport, we play it in gym for a couple of weeks but its not very intense. Here all the girls play so they were all wicked good. During class we were running drills instead of playing for fun. So my grade was a 6+... not the best grade but considering that my class is super intense at volleyball I just had to shrug this one off.
One of my teacher asked me last week to do this big presentation for the entire school. I have to talk in English about why learning English and other languages is important. Also talk about why we should try watching movies in English as well. Luckily Ill be making this presentation with two of my classmates who speak great English so I wont be alone. Only thing is I dont really know what exactly Im going to say.

This Saturday is my boyfriend Federicos 20th birthday. To celebrate all his friends that he grow up with are throwing him a big birthday bash in Torino- the city he lived most of his life in. Im going to ask my host parents and afs today if I can go for the weekend. Ill be taking the train from Treviglio to Milano with Fed then we will change trains and head to Torino where his friends will pick us up. Luckily Ive already met a few of them, and the whole weekend sounds like its going to be a lot of fun. So fingers crossed that I get to go!!

Thats all for now, so Until Next Time...


Half Way Point!

Its true, I have officially been living in Italy for 5 months now! I can't at all tell if its flown by or not... Its the strangest feeling, I feel like I just left my house back in September yet I feel like Ive been here for a very long time! All I know is that I'm very proud of myself for making it thru this far with very few problems. I rememeber the last few days before I left the US... just wondering what my stay in Italy would be like. Would I get along with my family, will I make friends, will I be able to speak Italian, will I be crying all the time from homesickness?? I must say that things turned out a lot better than I had hoped. I fit in nicely with my Italian family, I have many group of friends, my Italian... well... thats something I could definatly work on! I miss home of course but in the last 5 months I think Ive cried a total of 3 times. My first week I was an emotional wreck... I rememeber my first few days in Italy and thinking "what the heck am I doing here?! I'm on the other side of the world for the next ten months, I know hardly anyone, I wont see any of my friends or family for how long??" I rememeber my first call home, and that I put it off for a couple of days just because I knew I would start crying the moment I heard my moms voice. As much as tried I couldnt help but to shed a few tears after we hung up. The other two times I have cried were on Thanksgiving and Christmas... I was so homesick those two days and couldnt really do anything about it. Other than that I have honestly been really happy here.

So Afs has asked me to take some time to reflect on my stay so far. Weigh in the pros and cons of the last 5 months in Italy. If I had to give you a number on my stay so far on a scale of 1-10 I probably give it an 8. Somedays I feel so incredibly low and just want to be at home again. Other times I feel like I could live here forever. I remember I had an Afs meeting before I left and they told us that this expierence would be a huge rollercoaster. We would have many ups, downs, loops and turns during our stay abroad. I can honestly say they were really right on this one. Everyday isnt at all perfect but there's days that are that make up for it.

The things that I miss most about home is of course my family. I miss everyone so much esp my mom. It wasnt until I got to Italy that I learned how much I took them for granit and how lucky I am to have them. And of course I really miss all my friends back home too... I cant wait for this summer to be reunited with everyone! Another thing I miss is the food. As sad as it is I really miss it! I know that your thinking "how could she miss the food when shes in Italy??" If you come to Italy for a week or two you will say its the best, but after 5 months you will be craving American food like no other. The last thing that I really miss is my town... I really took living on the water for granite! Im in the middle of northern Italy... to see the ocean you would have to take a train about 3 hours either east or west.

I do think however in the last 5 months I have grown up... a lot! I feel like when I come home I willl no longer be seen to my parents as their "little lizzy". Ive learned in the last 5 months that the only person you can rely on is yourself. Its up to you to be the person you want to be, and how you want to live your life. I know that when I come home I won't be relying on my parents as much as I did in the past. The other big thing that Ive learned is that not everything in life is going to happen as expected. And that when life hands you unexpexcted things you have to accecpt the challange and make the most of it. Like the famous quote "when life hands you lemons, make lemonade".

If I had to change anything in the last 5 months I would probably would had learned more Italian before I came. It defintaly would have made things a lot easier the first month! I rememeber my first day of school was only 2 days after my arrival in Italy- I couldnt even introduce myself to people. I quickly learned that smiling will get you far when your abroad!Other than learning Italian before I came there really nothing I would have done differently.

Ive been told that the next 5 months will be better than the first half. That the second half of my stay will fly by, and that my relationship with my friends and family will become stronger, my knowledge of the language will become better(fingers crossed) and that I will overall have a better time. I have a lot to look forward to:
This Saturday I'm going to Verona for Valentine's Day. Ill be celebrating it with Federico and will stay over night at his house with his family. It will also be the mark of our first date two years ago. = )
Monday and Tuesday I have no school becuase it will be carnivale in Italy. Basicly the entire country goes crazy with parties in all the cities. They celebrate carnivale 40 days before Easter so you sort of do all the things your going to give up for lent.
Next week there will be a new exchnage student arriving in Treviglio. Shes from Canada and will be here for 3 months. Always happy to have a new exchange student!
In two weeks it will be Federicos birthday and were hoping to go to Torino to celebrate with all his friends for the weekend.

From the 6th-12th ill be in Edinburgh, Scotland!
From the 21st-28th ill be in Gela, Sicily!
= D lots of traveling!!

My my, sister and my moms's boyfriend will be coming to Italy for a few days to see me the third week of the month!! = D Super happy about that one!!

Its my birthday the 25th... also my mama's, host sisters, host aunt, and my new baby cousin thats on the way!

Finish school the second week and will be Freeeeee!

I have 10 days to do anything and everything before my flight home

So as you can see Ive got a lot of things coming up in the next 5 months! Some things that happened in the last week is that I got my report card and got all 8 in my classes and 10 in conduct/particaption in class = ) solid grades! My host parents were really proud. Yesterday (sunday) I had my last day of skiing. Im feeling bittersweet aboout that one. The expierence was amazing and Im really happy that I had the chance to do it! I am however excited to have my saturday nights going out late and sunday morning of sleeping in!

So Until Next Time...


Hope For Haiti

Okay so in this post I want to talk about more than just my life, but about people's lives around the world. Everyday on tv they show the victims of Haiti, everyday I wish I could do more than just see their helpless faces. Since I'm not a millionaire and can't donate money to the cause I think its best to use any talents we may posess. For me, I think its writting in this blog.
When ever I watch tv at home I always see different clips of Haiti, and the incredible amount of trouble the country is in. Before the earthquake Haiti wasn't exactly the richest island in the Carribean, but now they seem to be in the worst economic crisis. Thanks to the big help of the US, we seem be doing some relieve by sending army soliders, food, medicine, construction supplies and overall help. I know that other countries are doing their part as well. For example my host country Italy. Their main aim is to raise awareness of the natural disaster since were rather far away. They constantly play commercials showing the resolts after the earthquake and ask to donate money. There are even facebook groups promoting awareness. The earthquake has been an international crisis, I think we all wish we could do something to help.

I got an email the other day from my grandma marylou. The first part talked about my uncles safe trip to Hatiti since he films around the world. Luckily he made it back A-Okay = ) The other part of the email listed a bunch of things that you should try to rememeber during your day. One of the things that was listed that really stuck out to me. The quote was "if we all threw our problems into a pile, we would probably take ours back." This statement to me is very relateable. From time to time we all think that our lives are going completly horribly, that we have so many problems, and just want to have a break down. After reading this quote it really hit that my personal problems seem practicly nonexistant compared to the problems of the victims in Haiti. The general problems in the US is keeping a good job, paying the bills, making sure everyone in your family is happy, healthy and safe. If you compare these problems to people of Haiti's problems you might have some second thoughts on how problamatic they really are. People there basically have nothing, almost all they had has been destroyed. Its strange how something terrible has to happen for people to unite together to help and support others in need.

Onto other news:
Three Americans left for home 6 months earlier than planned. All with different reasons why they left. One was my close friend Erin, however Im sorry to see all of them leave. On the other hand Im really determined to make it to the end of this adventure of mine.
A new exchange student is coming to my local chapter from Canada, she will be here sometime in February = )
We had a snow fall the other day, my town looked so beautiful covered in the white blanket! Sadly the next day it was washed away by rain. = (
Sunday I went skiing for the second time, although things were a little different. This time it was 10 degrees outside, no sun and kind of windy. BURR! Since it was so cold not as many people were there. Also some of the slopes were icy resulting in my first wipe out while skiing. Ii started with me going down the mountain a lot faster than I should had... Suddenly was on a very icy and steep slope, when I tried to stop I just kept sliding downward and eventually starting tumbling. When I looked up one ski was at the top of the slope and my host dad was handing my one of my poles and asking if I was okay. Luckily the fall didnt leave a mark on me, I laughed it off espcially when a bunch of snow was down my pants. It was mainly my family that was on the slope so very few people saw my very ungraceful fall. After that I took the more difficult slopes a lot slower! The rest of the day skiing went smoothly and eventually the sun did come out... right as we were leaving. = p
This morning was the first sunny morning since October I think. My bus for school came a lot later than it normally does. Usually it super dark when Im waiting for it to come, and the ride to school as well. Today however I got to see the sun rising over the mountains... it was such a beautiful site! I hadn't seen the mountains for a very long time since its always cloudy and dark in the mornings. So I was very pleasantly surprised this morning = )

I know this blog is a lot shorter than what I normally write but there isnt a lot of exciting news in the dead of winter in my tiny little town. So Until Next Time...


To Many Goodbyes, Not Enough Hellos

Okay so I know that the title of this blog is rather... sad but its really true. This whole week Ive been finding out one after another that my friends are leaving Italy. That is my Afs/Sts exchange student friends. Over the week my friend Akiralie from Australia went home because shes only here for her summer. Also my friend Fred from Canada left on Saturday because he is here for first semester. Akiralie was part of my area, but we lived on polar opposite ends so we really didnt get to see each other. Fred I saw almost everyday since Ive been in Italy because we live on the same street, go to the same school and have a lot of classes together. Even though me and Akiralie got along really well where as my and Fred constantly bickered about whose country was better ill really miss them both! Ive noticed being an exchange student, you sort of are drawn to other exchange students esp ones that speak English.

Another one of my really good friend Erin is going all the way back to Oregon, USA this week. = ( She told me it was because she wasnt going to enough classes and didnt get her host parents permission for all the missed days. Since Afs has a lot of rules- one of the being you must attend school reguarly so she is being sent home 6 months early. Me and Erin have grown rather close over the last 4 months mainly because she lives in Bergamo- only 20 minutes away by train, were both American and we have a lot in common. Ive also heard that they may be some other Afs students going home early due to unhappiness. = ( Why are we all dropping like flies??
Ive noticed a lot in these past few months that I feel like Im saying goodbye more than Im saying hello. In the sense that back home when I say goodbye its goodbye for now, see you another day. But here, sometimes when I saw goodbye to someone its goodbye forever. When Im with a group of my friends Italian or exchange student I think wow... I might not ever see these people again or were probably never going to be here with the same people. Really sad thoughts. Anyways...

Im happy to report that I will not planning on coming home eary. My goal is to making until July 10th (my departure date) and I know I can do it. I have a really kind host family who shows me a lot of love and support. I have some really nice Italian and exchange students friends and I have my boyfriend in Verona who I couldnt imagine leaving so early after waiting so long to see him. So overall Im really happy here, thing are definatly not at all perfect but I think Im doing a-okay. Its a very different enviorment than Duxbury, Ma but I think Ive adapted rather well. The only thing that I havent gotten adjusted to is the language. Im kind of struggling with that. Probably because I speak English at school, sometimes at home and with friends. After talking with my American Afs friends Ive noticed that my Italian is really crumy compared to theirs. I dont want to give the impression that Im not trying or that I dont care about learning the language. Its just really hard when your constantly surrounded by people speaking English instead of Italian. I think my friends Italian is so much better than mine is because they take normal classes like (science, history, philosphy math), and their host families and friends dont speak English. Im hoping in the next few months my Italian will improve a lot more!

So onto the latest news- I went to Lake Como yesterday! Sunday morning when I woke up I had no idea I would be going to Lake Como. Originally my American Afs friends and I had all planned to meet in Milan train station where we would take a connecting train to Genova. Sadly Italians havent learned the concept of being on time so my train from Treviglio to Milan was 30 minutes late. I was supposed to meet me friends at 8:35 when my train came in, get a coffee, buy our tickets and be stress free. The train for Genova left at 9:05 and of course my train came in at 9:07. I did learn however that I officially have my moms genes of being really annxious and get worked up about little things. While I was on my train to Milan I was totally freaking out that I wouldnt get there on time. I was even talking to one of the conductors to see if there was a delay to the Genova train. When I finally did arrive in Milan I did a full on sprint to the new platform only to see the Genova train moving into the distance. Rats. It turns out my friend Erins train from Bergamo was even more late so we ended up canceling our trip to Genova since the next train didnt leave for another 4 hours.

Since we had all been in Milan a lot we wanted to see something different. So we looked at the giant annoucement board listing all the cities and train times and we all came to the decision of Lake Como. Now Lake Como is about 1 hour north of Milan so the train ride wasnt as long or expensive as the Genova train. When we arrived we all looked at the giant lake and said wow this is pretty... now what...?? The weather was kinda crummy- really cloudy, foggy and cold! There werent any tourists there but us, the entire town seemed so dead. I bet in spring and summer its a really beautiful place and is bursting with people.

We basically spent the day taking lots of pictures, making movies of us feeding these Huge swans bread, eatting a lot and looking for George Clooneys house. Sadly my camera was completly out of battery so I didnt get any good shots = ( I did however eat my first canolie in Italy. I have to say it kicks the North End in Boston canolies butt! For lunch we all ate a huge plate of lasagna and every hour we would be drinking a cappicino, or eatting gelato or a pastry. We tried to find George Clooneys house but none of us knew where in Lake Como he lives or what his house looks like so it was a failed attempt.

The day ended with all of us taking a train back to Milan and another train with Erin to Treviglio. When my host dad picked me up in Treviglio he said I looked really tired lol. I was, it was a very long day of traveling around so I pretty much crashed into bed early last night. Now Im at my schools library typing this after two very long hours of 5th year English. Today we talked in depth about the life and works of John Keats. Rather heavy writting pieces for so early in the morning!

Last week nothing really happened... just school, people leaving for the home countries....

I did however get some baking done = ) I made a batch of fudgy brownies that were deeeelish! I even sprinkled some vanilla flavored powered sugar and put some mini chocolate chips in the batter. Then the other day I made some chocolate chip cookies for the train rides on Sunday since every American loves them. I must say that baking things from scatch is a huge pain in the bum esp when you realise that your missing ingredients. And having to continuesly run back to the market only to find out they have no idea what brown sugar is.

This week I have school but Ive been invited to go to Crema or Cremona with my friends Ray and Michelle on Saturday. They dont have school that day so maybe my hosts will let me skip and go with them. I only have one class on Saturday and its Spanish so it doesnt really count for me. I dont think ill be going out late Saturday night like I usually do since ill be leaving at the crack of dawn on Sunday to go skiing with my host family all day. Luckily the package with my ski clothes has finally arrived so I will no longer look like a barbie. = p

Happy Birthday Meredith! Sorry Im not home to celebrate with you. And Im also sorry I didnt get you anything! Im completly broke right now = (

So Until Next Time...


Skiing in Sondrio!

Okay so yesterday (sunday) I went skiing for the first time... in Sondrio! So Sondrio is a city in the mountains in northern Italy. Its near the city Aprica where I went for my AFS orientation camp back in october. So early Sunday morning about 5:45 am my papa come into my room to wake me up and tells me I have about 15 minutes to get up, dressed and ready to leave. Luckily I have the weird talent of being able to spring out of bed early in the morning but pulling myself completly together in 15 minutes is a slight challange for me.
So I went into the kitchen in my pjs and looked at the kitchen table and saw piles of ski clothes. My package with my ski clothes hadnt arrived yet so my mama had pulled clothes out the night before for me since I went out with friends. Anyways she had a salmon colored pink onesy snow suit for me. The pink suit would have looked cute on a girl of say 5 or 6 years old. But on me I just looked like the doll Barbie esp with my blonde hair. I hadnt gone skiing before so I was kind of a lost soul on what to wear under the ski suit. I ended up throwing on some leggings, yoga pants, long sleeve thermal, and a black lacrosse pullover that said Hofmaier on the back, black ski cap, aviator sun glasses and uggs.
The car ride to the mountain was a little over 2 hours. I slept majority of the way. When I woke up we were driving up a narrow widney road and were surrounded by mountains and snow. The view was amazing! As we were driving up I could see all the cute little snow covered towns. As we pulled up to the mountain I had some serious butterflies in my stomach. I was so nervous, scared and excited! While my host dad was strapping on my brick like snow boots onto my feet I was just staring at the slopes- they were huge and so steep! As we walked up to the slopes with skiies in hand I felt like a huge fish out of water. I struggled with the whole push youself while on skies using your polls thing. And with my pink onesy suit, blonde hair and strong american accent I also stuck out like a soar thumb. It felt like everyone was just staring at me like where the heck are you from and your definatly new at this.
Since we got there early (8:30am) there werent a lot of people. So my papa took my down the bunny slopes a few time. He said I was a real natural and that I was doing great! = ) After going down the baby slopes twice he took my to the more difficult slopes which I didnt really have a problem with. I didnt fall or feel like I was going to fall. It all just seemed so simple, easy and really fun!
When the clock struck 10 am all the sudden there was tons and tons of people on the slopes. Most were there for ski lessons like me. I was put in a beginners group where we went 5 feet up the bunny slope, went down and stopped and repeated. After about 10 minutes they moved me out of the group and put me in a more advanced group. I had two women and a man who were in their late 30s and were like "oh we never tried skiing so we might as well try now." My teacher or any one else in the group didnt know english- lovely, but was really nice to me and told me I was doing a really awesome job esp since it was my first day. They also didnt know the city of Boston so I just said it was near New York. They kept asking me if I lived in Manhattan lol.
After ski school my papa and I got lunch- spaghetti and meatballs with cokes. Yummy! I was super tired from my first day of skiing so we went home a couple hours early. Probably a good thing since the slopes were packed and it was going to rain later that afternoon. I slept all the way home. When we got back to the house my papa was boasting to the rest of the family on how great I did on my first day and how he was so proud of me. = )

Overall the day was great, I love skiing! It was really nice weather, the sun was out, and it wasnt to cold or windy. The view of the mountains was breathtaking and of course I forgot my camera... again. I will make a huge effort to rememeber it when we go skiing again in two weeks.

Nothing really big or exciting happened last week. Just school which Im doing really good at since I got back some exams from my English classes. I got a 10, 8, and 7+

On Saturday night I went out with my friends where we went out for pizza. Now every couple of streets you will see a pizzera and to me they all look the same. This one was very different. At this pizzera they made pizzas that were the size of an extra large pizza just for one person! They were HUGE! They didnt even fit on a large plate, they sides had about 4 inches hanging off. And the toppings you could get were crazy! For example my friend got a pizza that had sausage, pepperoine, ham, mushrooms, peppers, onions, mozzerla cheese, peas and two sunny side up eggs! And everyone but me was able to eat the monster size pizzas alone and had room for dessert! After that night Im almost 100% positive that Italians are born with two stomachs or maybe they have really fast metabolisms. I dont know how they can eat so much and stay so thin!

This next week is kind of a sad week for me. My good friend Fred from Canada is going back home because hes only here for first semester. Also my friend Akiralie is going back to Australia since shes here only for her summer. Im really sad that my frieds are leaving. When Fred leaves ill be the only exchange student in my town and at school. Im really going to miss him even though he sometimes gets annoying. I wish Akiralie lived closer to Treviglio and was staying longer so I could have gotten to know her better! Theres nothing big to look forward to this week, just school really. Maybe ill get some baking done since I havent made anything for a while Even my family says they miss my brownies and cookies. Were not going skiing this sunday but the one after and next time my brother and sister will come too. Hopefully my ski clothes will arrive by then so I wont have to wear the barbie snow suit again! Until Next Time....


4 Months Down, 6 Months To Go!

Okay so I have offically been living in Castel Rozzone, Italy for 4 months now. I really cant tell if it has flown by or not. I feel very settled and everything seems fimilar and normal now. Its strange how the first semester and winter stay kids will be leaving soon. To think of going back home in a few weeks seems totally crazy to me. Im not at all ready to leave my Italian life but to go home for a few weeks would be amazing. All the year long exchange students are starting to feel it. Were all sort of going down hill on this emtional rollercoaster. Yes we all made it thru our first Christmas and New Years away from home but now the excitement of the holidays has died and were all back at school. The school days now seem longer as the teachers endlessly lecture in Italian because we can now get the gist of what their saying. When we leave home and come home its generally dark and very cold! I am offically in the two long most dreaded months of my stay- Janaury and February. And I have kicked off this month with yet another nasty cold. Lovley.

Now I was planning on writting this week about my first expierence skiing in the Alps with my papa and brother. Sadly Im sick with this cold that is very mysterious. It came on very quickly and likes to make my body feel like its a dead fish one day then normal the next day, over and over for more than week. So on Sunday I had to cancel my ski lessons and stay home all weekend. Yesterday I went to school but came home with a fever so now Im currently in my pjs writting this blog feverless and feeling relatively fine. Dang cold! So instead I really want to talk about the culture difference here. Ive past the three month mark which is the longest a tourist can stay in a foreign country and I am now at the temporary residence stage. So I think Im qualified to talk about what it is like living in Italy.

Before I start I must note that all the observation are from my own personal view points. Another exchange student may or may not agree with all that is written. These are simply my opinions and thoughts.

  • Family is your number one priority. Always.
  • Parents usually have one or two kids. Having four or more kids is like having 8 kids in the usa.
  • Grandparents usually live in the house with the rets of the family or live really close by.
  • Sundays you always have lunch with the grandparents.
  • If there is a grandma living in the house then she does all the cooking for lunch and does the laundry for the family.
  • I have not heard of a man running the house instead of the woman.
  • Moms sometimes have jobs. Otherwise the live at home taking care of the kids, or volunteer. None are big powerful buisness women.
  • Everybody is very loud and into each others lives. Dinner we talk about our day, politics, school, and other things will waving around our hands.
  • Getting enough privacy can be an issue.

  • It is possible to get a bad meal here.
  • Breakfast is very light- the tiny but extremely stong expressos, warm milk, and cookies.
  • Lunch is the biggest meal of the day. Its served around 1pm and has many courses including vedgetables, pasta, meat, fruit, coffee and gelato.
  • Dinner is normal size and eatten around 8 pm.
  • They do not snack in between meals, simply because they dont have snacks.
  • You feel like your in a serious food comma after lunch and dinner.
  • Your Starving during and after school simply due to the no snack rule.
  • I have never eatten so much pasta and pizza before in my life!
  • Gelato kicks ice creams butt.
  • Burgers are terrible here since there use diary cows for meat.
  • They eat a ton of ham.
  • Italians eat A LOT at meals. They force food into your mouth. But they dont want you to gain weight.
  • Theres a pizza called the Americani which is cheese pizza with french fries on it.
  • Flat water, fizzy water, and coke are the main drinks. Rootbeer and Doctor Peper dont exist.
  • The food is all natural, fresh and yummy. Its simply made.
  • Drinking a glass of beer or wine at dinner with your family is 100% normal. Also at school events.
  • They drink to have a drink not to get drunk.
  • Going out on a school night to meet some friends at a bar is normal.
  • If you get drunk its not okay.
  • A lot of food I thought was Italian actually is just American. For example chicken alfredo and spaghetti and meatballs.
  • They put olive oil in all their cooking.
  • Mcdonalds is more expensive and to me is a lagit restaurant. People dont really use the drive thru but sit down. There are a lot less choices and doesnt do american mcdonalds justice. But when your starving for a burger it will do.
  • They have a couple burger kings. But you wont see taco bell, wendys, sonic, dairy queen or kfc, dunkin donuts anywhere here.
  • People generally dont go out to eat. Simply because almost all resturantes are pizzeras.
  • Havent eatten any mexican or chinese food while here simply because they dont have it.
  • Grocery stores are small little markets. Unless you drive half hour to the nearest stop and shop size market. They even have butchers inside them selling every part of a pigs body and all is on display for all to see. The bakery section is lagit and my favorite part.
  • Their ceral section consist of less than 10 different types.
  • Canoilies are only in the south so I have yet to try one.
  • Coffee is basically like a very strong shot. If your looking for an american type of coffee good luck!


  • We all take city style buses to school.
  • Driving age is 18.
  • All cars are stick shift.
  • You can always take a bus or train to another town or city. Buses and trains start running around 6 am. Buses stop around 8 pm and general arent in service on sundays. Trains stop around 10 pm.
  • European countries are small and easy to get to. Its common for Italians to have been to England, Spain, Germany, Greece....
  • Cars are really small.
  • Everyone drives faster than the speed limit.
  • People generally dont wear seatbelts.
  • If you take a bus or train and dont have a ticket they will charge you 50 euro (75 dollars)
  • If there is 2/3 inches or more of snow no one will drive if they dont have to. If they do they will drive extremely slow. Buses and trains will have hour or more details/cancelations.
  • Mopeds and motorbikes are eveywhere. 16 is the driving for moped age. Girls and boys drive them even grandparents.
  • Riding a bike or walking for long distances is normal.
  • Gas cost 7 dollars a gallon.
  • I have yet to see a full size SUV or Hummer.

  • There are two types of school- private or public. Private is very expensive and all the rich kids go there. School is easier for them since the classes arent as hard and teachers will give them a higher grade than they deserve.
  • Public schools arent very nice, classes are very challanging and teacher grade you harder.
  • School is from monday-saturday. 8 am til 1:30 pm
  • We dont eat lunch at school, if you get hungry there are vending machines.
  • There are 5 years of high school.
  • No SAT or ACT tests but there is a huge test at the end of the 5th year saying if and what university you will go to.
  • All tests are done orally. Sometimes language classes will have them written.
  • At any given time the teacher can ask you a long series of questions about the material your learning. If you dont know the answers your grade for the semester is looking really bad.
  • They never do worksheets during class. Your either doing an oral test, listening to the teacher lecture or taking notes.
  • They dont use letter grade but numbers 1-10. 5 or below is failing. 10 is impossible its like getting an A++
  • There are different types of schools including scientific, language, classical, musical...
  • All the students simply call the teachers Prof.
  • There arent any janitors. But these women who were lab coats. They are secritaries/cleaning women.
  • Classrooms are very simple. They only have students desks, teachers desk, trash can and white board. No clocks, computers, tv, or loud speakers.
  • Teachers switch class, students stay in the same seat all day, every day.
  • You dont get to pick elective classes.
  • Gym is once a week for two hours.
  • There arent any lockers.
  • They teach religion in all schools.
  • There arent hall passes. People usually dont leave during class to go to the bathroom. If you do need to go it should according to the teachers take 2 minutes tops.
  • People dont act out during class, ever. No one gets sent to the principles office for detentions or suspensions.
  • There arent any random fights during or after school.
  • If there is 5 or more inches of snow the will cancel school.
  • Students will be very serious during school and then come home and study all afternoon and evening for a test they might not have.
  • Teachers are always late for class not students.
  • Smoking outside in between classes is totally normal.
  • There are no high school musical type schools aka there is no school spirit, sports teams, after school clubs, activities or anything. You simply go there to learn.

  • If your friends are in the fourth year or below they generally wont go out on weekends or at leats not late. This is because they cant drive yet and have to study.
  • People are super friendly if they speak english.
  • If they dont know english they will just stare at you and say bye instead of hi and good night instead of good morning and will refer to you by your country instead of name.
  • If your friends can drive then you will be out super late on saturday nights at bars and discos.
  • People generally dont go over to each others houses to hang out, they meet at local bars.
  • They will either be to shy to speak english with you because they think its not good enough. Or if the they know english will want to use you to practice and perfect it.
  • People will say "hi and your name" and you will smile and say hi back to them but have no idea who the heck they are. Esp at school.

  • Yes I am going to talk about the bathrooms in Italy because they are different!
  • At home there is usually one sometimes two bathrooms. Generally no more than two.
  • They dont have the little fans.
  • At home they are very large.
  • Showers generally suck since its a detached shower head.
  • The water will randomly get very cold, then normal, then hot, then the water pressure will decrease by half. So keep the showers short!
  • They use bathrobes to dry off instead of big towels.
  • Women usually dont use razors instead they wax. But only when they have to. Some dont wax or shave at all.
  • They have this second toliet. Its called a bidet. I think its to clean down under... I havent figaured this one out yet. Some exchange students ay they use it to shave their legs. I just avoid it.
  • They dont have trash cans in the bathrooms. If they do they are very small.
  • Im finding myself knocking on the bathroom door everytime Im about to enter even if the light is off just because you never know.
  • At school there arent toilets but wholes in the grounds because I go to a low cost public school.
  • Half of the bathroom is taken up by clothes drying since they dont use dryers. Clothes come back a week or two later and wont by soft of smell laundry fresh. Clothes wont come back fitted either so you think your loosing weight when your really not.
  • If your in the city they will charge you under a euro to use their gas station type bathrooms.

  • At school people dress rather nice.
  • If you wear pajamas to class you will be shot.
  • The main style for girls is skinny jeans, colored straight leg pants, converse, short ugg, tall leather boots, short ankle boots, heels, turle necks, sweaters over the turtle necks, scarves thats get wrapped around your neck a thousand times and the puffy coats.
  • Boys wear stright leg jeans that are stressed. They wear tshirts and sweaters, above all their clothes are designer.
  • When you go out at night all girls wear heels.
  • Everyones neck seems to disappear in winter.
  • Your not suppose wear short shorts to school or tank tops or flip flops.
  • The main colors are black, purple, red, dark green and gray.
  • The designers we dont care about in the usa they love here. Like the desingers you can find at macys.
  • They havent heard of coach, seven for all man kind, or juicy.
  • Converse cost at least 60 euro the nice ones around 100.
  • The first Abercrombie and Fitch in Italy just opened in Milan. Its three times the price yet Itlians will wait in long lines to get inside and will pay the ridiculous prices.
  • H & M is the most american type store you can find fashion and price wise.
  • Its very common and normal for people will wear the same exact outfit they did the day before.
  • Why is the dollar less than the euro? Clothes are so darn expensive esp in Milan!
  • People can tell from my clothes that Im foreign.
  • The 80s fashion is back.

  • Everyone speaks Italian... Duh!
  • I live in the Bergamo region so a lot of people know the dialect of Bergamosco. It not at all similar to Itlian. But a mix of French, Dutch, German, and Italian. To me it just sounds funny and 100% non understandable.
  • At almost every school you have to learn English. This doesnt mean everyone can speak it well or knows it.
  • Other common languages for people to know are dutch, german, latin, spanish and french.
  • If your standing in a line with your friends and you get to the register and start speaking in Italian the person usually will respond in English.
  • British English and American English are very very different.
  • I got a C+ on my English grammer test.
  • All the afs exchange students know English.

  • Northern Ialy doesnt like southern Italy. But the south has no problems with the North. South is known for its warm weather, mafia, and non working people. The north is known for its cold weather, reserved people and overworking people.
  • You cant walk around the house bare foot. Ever. Italians thinks its unsanitary and gross. In the winer you feet will freeze off if you dont wear socks.
  • A lot of people have cleaning people come to their house once a week.
  • Teens usually dont have jobs. Their only priority is to study.
  • Everyone dreams of coming to America. The only states they know of are California and New York.
  • Italy has the most cities out of any European country- Milan, Torino, Verona, Venice, Bologna, Rome, Tuscany, Florence, Pisa, Naples, Sicily.... So many places for such a small country!
  • They use kilometers instead of miles. Military time, Celcius instead of ferinheit, euro instead of dollar, meters instead of feet. Kilos instead of pounds. Grams instead of cups. Litters instead of gallons. The list goes on and on.
  • The first time I went shopping alone I struggled since shoe, pant and top sizes are different.
  • Itlians are very friendly in your face people.
  • People of all ages greet each other with a hand shake and two sometimes three kisses on the cheek.
  • They dont have closets but these giant wardrope keepers.
  • Im finding myself using British words.
  • American cords will not fit into Italian outlets no matter how hard you try.
  • Half of the programs on tv were orginally in English but have been voiced over with Italian so the lips are always off. Italian news and game shows have trashy women dancing next to the host.
  • When people write its different. numbers are drawn differently like the 1 looks like a 7. And they usually write in capital letters.
  • Blowing your nose during class or at the dinner table is normal.
  • I will be served first at meals, with less food on my plate and will still finish last.
  • American dvds dont work here.
  • One medium size pizza in America is the size for a one person in Italy.
  • Your not allowed to have wet hair... ever. Even in the house you have to blow dry it.
  • There arent any places where you can get a manicure or pedicure.
  • More outlets then shopping malls.
  • The believe in naturally overcoming colds instead of taking medicine. And only go to doctors when your on your death bed.
  • Everyone is Catholic whether or not the go to church.
I hope you all enjoyed this long list of culture difference. I must thank my uncle brian though. He gave me a little black notebook to write in while Im overseas. If it werent for him all of my thoughts about these topics would still floating around in my head. So Until Next Time...


Happy New Year!

Alrighty so the highlight of my week has been new years which basically was the best new years of my life so far. Originally I was supposed to stay at home with my brother while my mama, papa and sister went to the mountains. My brother was planning on inviting a few of our friends over then hitting the disco after midnight. Which sounded totally cool to me but turns out I had a surprise invite to my boyfriend Federico's house in Verona to celebrate the New Year.
Now Im not supposed to see Federico for the first 6 months of my stay. Its a strange AFS rule, but they believe that interaction with friends and family that you knew before your exchange will disrupt your new life. I really dislike this rule and was completely unaware of it before I left Boston. So the last time I had seen Federico was two weeks before Halloween. After I saw him back in October my host parents and AFS made it clear that they didnt want me to see him because they thought he was distracting me and I wasnt settling into my new life properly. So I had to tell Fed that I couldnt see him for a long time and luckily he understood since he had been an AFS exchange student two years ago.
Anyways the 23rd I asked my papa if he could take me to the post office to send Federico's Christmas gift and he said that I could give it to him myself. I was so surprised! I asked if I could really go to Verona after Christmas and he said it wouldnt be a problem. = 0 So my host mama called my advisor who gave my trip a thumbs up. I was wicked shocked that I could see Federico earlier than we had planned and I was allowed to go to Verona for New Years Eve! = )

So on the 31st I took a 10am train from Treviglio and arrived in Verona around 11:30 am where Fed met me right on the platform and gave me the biggest hug. Then we drove in his cute little car to his good friend Umbertos house. I had met Umberto over the summer when he came to Boston with Fed for a couple weeks. Anyways the three of us hit the streets of Verona. We went to the house of Juliet and saw the famous balcony which was really romantic and there was even a couple getting married there! Next we did a little shopping and saw the Arena of Verona and this giant model shooting star. After we went back to Federicos house which is a gorgeous house on top of the hills of Verona so it had an amazing view of the city. Sadly it was supposed to down pour rain the two days I was there. Luckily it didnt rain but was just really cloudy and foggy.
Something I discovered about Federico is that he can cook, really well. Not from a recipe but just naturally throwing in ingredients. So he made some yummy pasta for lunch. I also got to meet his family and they were really kind and loving people = )
After we had to go back to the train station to meet his two friends that were coming in from Torino and Padova. The one from Torino was super fun and crazy but spoke basically no English, he was a rather entertaining character. Him and Fed had been really good friends for a long time since Fed used to live in Torino but moved to Verona when he came back from the US. Then the one from Padova was super kind to me and knew really good English so it was really nice having a decent convos with him. He had met Federico this year since they go to the same University in Padova.
So once they arrived when spent a lot of time walking around in Verona. When night time came we went to happy hour in the center of the city. After we wanted to go bowling but it was closed so we just walked around until our dinner reservation at 10:30. After dinner we joined the hundreds of people gathered in the main square and toasted with champagne the new year. There was tons of fire works going off over the arena. It was so loud and crazy but it was awesome to spend it with Federico = )
After midnight the four of us wanted to go to a disco for a few hours. The first disco had an age limit of 25 so they wouldnt let us in. The second disco you had to buy a ticket before hand so that one was a no go. The third disco was 35 euro a head with an open bar. The disco was really big... with not a lot of people in it. So we decided not to pay a lot of money for a lame place. The fourth and final disco we got in for free since it was 2:30am. It was more of a bar than a disco so we all got drinks, danced a little, and hung out and returned to Feds house around 4am. I was incredibly tired to I hit the hay while the boys played poker until who knows when.
We all slept in late that morning and Feds family had left early to go to the mountains so I really didnt see much of them since we were hardly ever home. But Im sure the next time I go to his house ill hopefully get some quality time to get to know them better. The rest of the day we vedged at the house. Fed made this really good chicken and yummy pasta. Around 5pm we all took our seperate ways. Luckily I didnt have to take the train home alone from Verona because Feds friend was taking the same train to Torino and Treviglio stops on the way there. When I came home I was extremely tired! I dropped into bed at 9:30 and didnt wake up til noon.

When ever I have fun trips with Fed or with my AFS friends I always come home and just feel so tired, sluggish and sad. These expiernces with them are always a lot of fun so when Im with them Im on an emtional high. Then when I come home reality hits and then just sort of crash down. Being an exchange student is exactly like an rollercoaster. There are lots of ups, downs, loops, and eventually you find your smooth sailing. So Im constantly feeling emtionally unstable but I have new friends and a family in Italy who are watching out for me and I have family and friends back home who are there waiting for my return. So overall everything is going a-o-kay for me = )

So apart from my amazing new years in verona ive been doing a lot of hanging out with my exchange student friends during the day like going to Milano, Bergamo or just hanging in Treviglio. And sometimes going out to bars and discos at night with other friends. Im finding that the more I keep busy the less home sick I am esp during the holiday season. Also staying at house I can only do for so long before I feel like Im going to bust out since theres nothing in my town!

Tonight we are all celebrating my brother 19th birthday. My family and me/Ale's friends will all go to a pizzaera together. So it should be fun! Then tomorrow is my last day of vacation so it will be a day of sleeping in and doing my english assignments that I have been pushing off all vacation. So this Christmas vacation has had its ups and downs but overall it was a good Christmas vacation. Very different from my traditional holidays in America but it was interesting to expierence it in a new way! I will post next week about my first ski lesson that is happening this Sunday! So until next time...