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...