Wednesday, May 30, 2012

So everybody knows I'm still alive...

40 days. As of yesterday, that is. Then I'll be back in a life I knew once before, like dejavu.

Italy is fabulous. It is beautiful, historical, and oh-so modern all at the same time. The food is scrumptious and probably the aspect that I will miss most about Italy, to be honest. But despite all that, I am ready to be home. In my REAL home. I am very possesive of my Italian life, but I don't feel like it fits me. It's a nice lifestyle, and I'm glad I got to try it out for a year, but it's not the one I prefer.

And besides that, I really miss my cat... (And a bunch of other things, but let's not "waste paper".)

As I had mentioned before, I got to go to Venice! For Carnival, at that, with two friends from New Zealand. There were so many people packed into the little alleys. It was like the Fourth of July celebration at Lititz Springs Park, where everybody is pushing to get through the crowd, throughout the entire city. While I had to buy a mask, of course, I didn't actually use it. Instead, I got a lizard painted on my face. Bright green, just like Pasqual in "Tangled". Little children were running around throwing confetti at strangers, and I got silly-strung by some other Americans we met.

It was funny, because I could point out some Americans even from a distance. It seems that we are the only country where it is normal and socially exceptable to wear flared jeans.

As expected, Venice was lovely. It truly has a magical feel to it. And they just might have the best gelato in Italy.

In March, I went down south to Salerno for exchange week. I got to stay with another family, which I absolutely adored. With other students doing the same exchange week, I saw Paestum and Pompei. It's absolutely incomprehendible how old those remains are.

We also took a day trip to the Amalfi Coast, which left me feeling almost sick from an overdose of beauty. It was incredible. The cliffs over the water held houses of bright colors and numberless lemon trees. It was a little bit of paradise.

For Easter, I headed back down to Salerno to stay with the family who hosted me before. With this family, I formed one of those bonds that lasts a lifetime. Easter lunch was the biggest meal I have ever seen, and everything was good. After, we opened our chocolate eggs. Every kid gets a giant egg the size of their head, and inside, there is a surprise. Overall, it was a very nice Easter.

In April, I met up with my aunt in Florence, which was a bit strange, seeing a family member again. I found it hard to speak, like my English was all clogged up. I'm looking forward to all the fun for the first week or so when I get home...

Talking about being home, that's coming up so soon! SO SOON! All of a sudden reality is going to hit me. Senior year will be year already, talk about "where did the time go"!


Thursday, February 9, 2012

La stessa storia, sono ancora qui...

I was feeling pretty bad about my lack of blog updating, until I started looking at the blogs of my fellow AFSers. "I've been in Italy for two weeks now! I'll post pictures next week when I have some more time." And just like that, POOF- you might think they'd fallen off the planet.

As of today, I am exactly halfway done with my exchange! Hard to believe, right? It wasn't so long ago that I was laying on the hammock in my backyard, in Pennsylvania, dreaming of Italian adventures. However, I feel like I don't even know the Chloe I came as. She was a bit sheltered and ignorant of the world. She didn't know that last names in Iceland all are the father's name followed by "daughter" or "son". She got nervous over stupid things like calling and ordering a pizza. (PIZZA?!?!? I'm on it!!!) She didn't yet know who she was, since she had never taken complete control of her life or given herself time to contemplate her thoughts.

So what has this Chloe been up to? Well.

  • Snow. Lots of snow. Living in the "mountains" means even more snow. And even more snow means no school for 6 days. WIN. 
  • Watching the Superbowl. I made my friend Vitto's family stay up until midnight here to watch it... though after the halftime show we were all out. I was very disappointed that there were no commercials during the game, so I have been slowly digging them all up on youtube. 
  • School. Yesterday we had to go back to school, unfortunately. Though it's not so bad, really. My classmates are amazing. To me, they are more like a family. They are the ones I go to when I need advice or laughter or a hug or anything at all, in fact. And the schoolwork part, well, what can I say about that... I am going to an artistic school. If you think outside the box, you do well. 
  • Waiting for summer, or even late spring, when I can hit up the beach after school and start getting that lovely Italian tan while eating gelato.  
  • Planning trips: I see Venice, Florence, and Salerno in my future!  

    On that note, I did a bit of traveling in January. With AFS, I found myself in Florence- then two days later Verona! I was not able to see as much as I would have liked to, since we were traveling in a large group, but I got to climb to the top of "the dome" in Florence and see Juliet's balcony. A few weeks later, I took a trip to Tuscany with Vitto to visit her horses. We truly made a disaster of the trip in almost every way possible, from missing the last bus to sleeping without heating. Though somehow we were laughing the whole time. Sane people would have been on their knees crying.

    Alla prossima volta xoxoxo,

    Friday, December 30, 2011

    And one month later...

    December is finished. Tomorrow is New Year's Eve. How the heck did that happen?? 2011 has been a fantastic year, and I am hoping that 2012 will be even better- if it's possible.

    My Italian life is coming along quite nicely. I'd say my Italian is pretty impressive, seeing as I've only been here 4 months. I speak Italian with EVERYBODY now. Even my friend from New Zealand, because when we speak English her host sister glares us down until we start speaking Italian. I can only imagine how funny it is to hear us speaking with our horrendous grammar and accents.

    Of course, the big question is only one word: Christmas?

    In fact, this was one of the best Christmases I have had. Christmas Eve was spent with my host mom's parents, and we ate a lot and opened gifts. Traditionally, you eat a lot of fish, but my family isn't overly traditional. However, we did set up a "presepe" (nativity scene) in the kitchen. (Baby Jesus is only to be placed in the manger on Christmas.) On Christmas morning, I went with my family to the mother of my host dad. We met the cousins and aunt and uncle. There we did more eating and more present-opening. In the afternoon, we took a trip to see the nearby town, San Severino. That evening, we saw the new Sherlock Holmes at the cinema, which for me was the perfect ending to a great Christmas. Nothing like a little Holmes & Watson to add to the holiday cheer. We found ourselves at an adorable hotel for the night, where I immediately crashed- eating lots of food is exhausting.

    Though still, Christmas was not really over. The next day we had lunch at Grandma's house again, took a trip to the mountains, then went to an aunt's house. You guessed it- we did some more eating. Italians are always eating, cooking, or talking about food. The evening was then passed with card games- card games in which you gamble. I actually gained a few euros, how convenient!

    Auguri per il nuovo anno!


    Wednesday, November 30, 2011

    Io Adoro La Torta

    The last thing I expected to find myself doing on a Sunday afternoon in Italy? Watching a baby become part of the church family. My friend Vitto called me up and asked if I would come to her little brother's baptism, and I had nothing better to do, so I went. What I was not prepared for was the wave of English I was attacked by- Vitto's mother is English, so she has English friends and family. I entered the church and BAM. There it was. Everybody was speaking English, and I couldn't bring myself to utter a word. It was the strangest sensation. I literally could not talk, because in that moment my mind was completely in Italian mode.
    Following the baptism, there was a celebration lunch. For those of you who have not realized, Italy likes to eat. We started off the meal with bread and two courses of pastas. After, there were tiny fried fish and more pasta. After that, there was big fish. Then shrimp and squid and mini, fried octopuses. (Which yes, I did eat and enjoy.) Of course, this was all accompanied by wine. For dessert, there was an amazing cake and "dessert wine". Turns out I love baby baptisms. 

    I made a happy mistake the other day. I missed my bus, but I took one to a different nearby town where I knew I could get a bus to Pesaro. Indeed, I made it to Pesaro, but I did not get off when I should have. I thought there would be another stop in the center of the city... There wasn't. So, there I was stranded, waiting, hoping, for a bus back to center city at a random bus stop where I had never been before. There were five other kids about my age there, too, waiting for their friends. We talked a bit, then I frantically waved down a bus back into the city, and that was that. 

    Yesterday evening, I was sitting waiting for my bus when a girl smiled at me, said hi, and sat down next to me. After about a minute of that awkward silence, she asked, "You don't remember me, do you?" In fact, I had no clue who she was- or so I thought. "We met the other day when you missed your bus." Oh yeah, I did know her. We had a ten minute conversation, I gave her my cell number, and I boarded the bus for the forty minute ride home. 

    Today I got a text. In English. It was a girl from the Philippines, who is a friend of the girl I met at the bus stop. So now, because I missed my bus, I have made two new friends with whom I am planning a lunch date. It's these random little things that make life so great!

    Also, I found an amazing pair of red heels, which just puts the icing on the cake.

    And I received a package from home, which put the cake on the plate. 

    And somebody gave me a free pen that has a bright red flower on top, which puts some of the cake on a fork. 

    And I'M IN ITALY, which puts the cake in the mouth. 

    Long story short- I'm a pretty happy person right now.
    Lots of love to those of you in Lititz!


    Thursday, November 17, 2011

    Tick Tock Tick Tock

    I cannot believe how fast time is going. My first two months here went by like a wink of the eye- literally. Before I know it, I will be back in Pennsylvania surrounded by cows and corn. And even with as much as I love my home in America- I am absolutely dreading leaving here. It will be a sweet and sour thing. Already I have such great friendships and a second family, so imagine how tough it will be to leave all that behind after ten months. Never before have I had such a clear concept of time. It truly does fly by. Please, don't waste what you've been given.

    I have been asked a lot about Halloween. Yes, it is celebrated in Italy. However, it is not a big deal. There is trick-or-treating for the young children, but for my age group going out to the disco for the night is the normal. Unlike in America, there aren't Halloween decorations. Actually, not even fall decorations.

    On the note of holidays, it will be a bit sad to miss Thanksgiving. Although my host mom has proposed making a turkey here! The next holiday we have to look forward to is Christmas. Already there is a giant evergreen tree in the center of Pesaro, and lights are strung between buildings in the historical center. Something tells me that Christmas is kind of a big deal.

    The Italian life has become MY life. I sleep like an Italian- meaning very little. I eat like an Italian- though I still hate tomatoes. I dress like an Italian- see ya next year, flair jeans. Once I jump over that language barrier, I'll be an Italian for everything except the legal papers and perfectly tan skin.

    Speaking of language... That aspect has been coming along quite nicely lately. I understand almost everything, though that is the easy part. Speaking is tougher, but I think I am doing well for only being here two months. I speak Italian with everybody, the only exception being a very good friend who has an English mother. We know each other too well to stick with my basic Italian vocabulary. Currently, my favorite word is "portafortuna" which means "lucky charm". It literally translates as "portable luck"! (It's possible that I am amused with very little, because chances are nobody else will find this as awesome as I did.)

    I have slacked with this blog, so to add some interest-

    Urbino. Home of Raffaello Sanzio.

    Looking over the hills... how amazing is this view?

    Also at Urbino- My friends, you are looking at a wall older than you are mentally able to comprehend.

    Birthday in Italy! My family had a little party for me, and my friend from New Zealand came for a couple of days. It wasn't anything epic, but I quite enjoyed it. 

    Ancona. This screams ITALY to me. Fun fact- You can drink that water! People use these tiny springs as drinking fountains.  

    Alla prossima volta... :)

    Monday, October 24, 2011

    Crashing Birthday Parties and Chicken-Dancing

    It is officially fall in Italy. It was abnormally warm during the beginning of October, but now it is so cold that getting out of bed in the mornings is quite difficult. In our house, we always have a fire for heat. When I first saw this, I was a bit concerned that this was our only source of heat. To my relief, the radiators are also producing heat as of this evening. However, we still sleep with hot water bags at our feet, and my sister told me that she likes to sleep with gloves. Wonderful.

    Picture the scene in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" with the teacher talking verrrrrrrrryyyyyyyyyyyyy slow and all the students suffering from boredom. This is similar to what my English class is. Of course, this class is very simple for me. All I have to do is tune-in on occasion and take note of what the topic of the conversation is, and I can easily complete every test. Though I do have a confession to make. One of my Italian classmates scored half a point better than me on my first English test. I was not sure how to react to this.

    Since I am American, and Tavullia is a very small town, everybody knows who I am. The lady who serves me my cappuccino knows. The bus driver knows. The bar tenders know. I don't mind this, and it is only to be expected... but on occasion it has hilarious results. For example, there was the time when one of the bar tenders proudly yelled "hello" instead of "goodbye" when I was leaving. I didn't have the heart to tell him he was wrong.

    To be an exchange student, you must be a very unique person. This was clearly revealed this past weekend when we had "survival camp" with AFS. It was a good time. It is amazing how close I feel to these kids from all over the world who I have only met with a few times. We had a lot of group discussions, which sat on the border between very interesting and super boring. It was cool to be able to compare how things are done in different cultures. One of the Chinese boys goes to school Sunday evenings and does not come home until Saturday afternoon! That is a full week of staying at school. I can't even imagine.

    We did a ton of things at this camp. Indeed, we did crash an 18th birthday party. This was a jolly good time, where we ate gelato-cake and danced in the crazy manner that twenty exchange students from all over the world dance in. Also, as punishment for being late to be ready for the bus, we had a do a chicken-dance in the center piazza of Pesaro. Luckily, everybody my age was at school. My friend Rebecca and I were the first to be late for a meeting. Our punishment for this was singing a song- in front of everybody. Good times, good times...

    Allora, it is nearly midnight here. Time for bed! There is lots more to tell, but that will have to wait for later. Buona notte!

    PS- Be on the lookout for an article in the Lititz Record sometime in November. :)

    Saturday, October 8, 2011

    I Want to Dance Like an Italian

    In Pesaro, there is a strip of walkway covered by a roof, as is typical. It looks normal- but whatever you do, DON'T PASS BY ON IT. Because if you do, your lover will surely cheat on you. At least that's what they say... There is a saint, whose name I cannot recall, involved with this story. He guards this section of walkway. And if you make a sign with your hand that would have meant "llama" in elementary school, it represents this saint. It also means "your lover is cheating on you". This is about all I know behind the legend.

    Either way, I carefully avoid walking on this section of perfectly walk-on-able walkway every day. Though does it really matter for me? I am quite single...

    Anyway, October is going to be a fantastic month! I have started running with a cross country team, and I finally have Italian classes. They are fun, since they are with people from all over the world, though I have yet to meet another American. In a few weeks, I have a camp with the other AFS kids staying nearby. This should be a good time! It's amazing how close we feel to each other even though we have only met a few times. What I am especially looking forward to is the end of the month. We will have a three-day party: my birthday, Halloween, and a day to celebrate all saints. 

    The longer I live in Tavullia, the more attached I become to this cute little town. I took a walk the other day, and it was absolutely amazing. I started off at a cafe, where I had a cappuccino and a pastry as an afternoon snack. After successfully holding an itty-bitty conversation with Mati's friend and lacing up my kicks, (Just kidding. My shoes are made for lazy people; they have a zipper.) I began my mini adventure. I discovered an entire other section of Tavullia that I didn't even know existed. There is a playground and a soccer field and a lot of magnificent modern houses. Who knew?   

    Just some notes:

    -You know you did a bad job of packing when you have to spray your socks with perfume and wear the same pair three days in a row. 

    -Italians use the "your clothes only need washed if they stink" method. (This also applies to your body and showering.)

    -You will never be able to free-hand draw a straight line as well as an Italian art student. 

    -When you have a twenty-minute walk between you and your Italian class, and it's pouring outside, it's generally a good idea to have an umbrella. (Despite all my amazing ideas, this one just didn't occur to me.)

    -Flair jeans are NOT okay. Somebody WILL tell you that you look like you stepped out of the 1980's. 

    -Try to cut your pizza while nobody is looking. It's embarrassing to have your little sister offer to help you, because it looks like you are murdering the poor thing. This rule also applies to eating spaghetti. 

    -With Italian drivers being how they are, it's probably a good idea to say a little prayer every time you get in a car. 

    -You can't escape America. There is American music, American flags, American clothing, American movies...  

    Happy October!