Thursday, October 14

14.Ottobre.2010 "Ode to a Public Bathroom"

I give your fair warning, this blog is a tad bit graphic and “angsty” but if you choose to proceed…enjoy!

I would like to dedicate this blog entry to one thing: the public restrooms of Italy. It might seem a little strange to devote an entire entry to this one thing but I seriously cannot figure them out. I’m the type of person who doesn’t like to use public restrooms anyways but using the public restrooms here are like participating in an advanced yoga class every time you have you have to go! Here is a picture of what any bathroom in any bar, train station, or café will look like.  You might say, “…well Stina it is obvious that you have been going into the MENS room!” But  no, that is not the case.  Now I will give you a chance to figure out how a woman would have to contort her body to use such a device. Yes, it is similar to going to the bathroom in the wilderness, however instead of a nice forest floor you have a tile surface that is stained with the urine of thousands of people. I know gross, but it’s true! I just do not understand how, and if someone has any insight please let me know, how a person properly uses such a bathroom. I just think of the poor people with injuries or elderly people and how difficult it must be for them. Another thing is most of the time there is no toilet paper but merely a little hose, which I also do not understand, and you have to be pretty lucky to find a bathroom that is equipped with soap and paper towels for afterwards.  I’ve learned to deal with this by mainly only going to the bathroom at my house, and I’m fortunate to have a pretty good bathroom at our school, pictured is the best one that I could find.  But once again they rarely have toilet paper, soap or paper towels.  I’ve figured out a system that consists of carrying around Kleenex and hand sanitizer wherever I go, but I just had to share this with the world. J

Wednesday, October 6

6. Ottobre. 2010 “Take Me Home, Country Roads”

Before I left, a lot of people asked me if, after spending a year abroad in a completely foreign land, it would be difficult for me to come back to Northfield and go to college in my hometown.  At first I was a little worried that I’d want to go out again to a new and difference place, but now I am so happy to be in Northfield and to be going to St. Olaf next year.  Even though I am loving this experience here and it’s great to be on my own, I think that I will always be a “home body”.  This blog is kind of personal so it won’t be important to lots of people but this one is mainly for my own fun.  This is a list of 25 things I’ve really been craving to do back home lately. (Next time I’ll make a list of all the fun things I’m excited to do here.)
  1. Walk around in downtown Minneapolis.
  2. Study at Blue Monday with Dan and two large hot chocolates
  3. Take my doggy, Zebedee, for a walk with my family
  4. Take a walk in the apple orchard
  5. Go to an Emmaus church service
  6. Walk down St. Olaf Ave and see the beautiful colors on the trees
  7. Get French toast at the Ole Café
  8. Go to the science museum
  9. Eat a popcorn dinner with my family (which they think is really funny here by the way! )
  10. Wake up in my bright orange room
  11. Create “my lighting” in a couple choice rooms :)
  12. Watch an American football game with my dad
  13. Go for a run with Amy at Tostrud
  14. Sing with last years madrigals in that room by the auditorium
  15. Go on a road trip with my family
  16. Sing in a NHS choir concert and go to a cast party afterwards
  17. Drive up to my grandma Mum’s house
  18. Take a walk in the Carleton Arb
  19. Watch Simply Irresistible with Ellen
  20. Go for a hayride
  21. Go to Lake Byllesby with The Boys The Boys
  22. Go to Dairy Queen with Meredith
  23. Walk across my creaky stairs in my hallway
  24. Listen to Dan play the piano
  25. Hear the church bells playing outside my house everyday at 6
I want to do all of these things, but when I look back at them I realize that it's not the things I want to do..but the people I want to do them with. I'm writing this down because when I get home I'm going to actually do all of these things! I don't want to take the people and the town I love so much for granted! I can have fun and enjoy my time here for now and have this list for when I get back! 

Monday, October 4

4. Ottobre. 2010 “Uno Mese"

I remember when I found out that I would be going to Italy for my exchange year, it didn’t seem true or even possible.  The year went by and through the orientations and the other students leaving, it didn’t seem possible.  Even on the ride up to the airport I remember feeling like a dog on the way to the vet because none of it felt real and I felt completely unaware of the reality of what I was doing.  I wrote in my journal at the MSP airport, “This is it.” We had all been expecting that moment and preparing for it for months but I still had to remind myself that it was actually happening.  Now one month has gone by, I’ve made some friends, started some activities, picked up basic Italian and even now I forget the reality of what I’m doing. I have to remind myself, almost everyday: This is my Rotary Exchange year, right now. It’s so weird because we just built it up so much and I just can’t believe this is it.  Like I said in my previous blogs I am working very hard to seize the day and take advantage of every moment I have here.  For this blog I’d like to share a couple of things I’ve learned, about Rotary and Italy, over my first month here.

  1. I’ve discovered that while a Rotary Exchange year is about learning about a new culture and a completely different way of life, I have discovered more new things about myself than things about Italy.  I can already tell that this year is going to be such a time of self reflection and maturity for me, I already feel like I know myself better than I did before I come. And I’m so excited to learn even more and reflect on those realizations. Sometime later I’ll share some of my personal discoveries.
  2. The Rotary Club here in Italy (or at least my district) is very, very different from ours back home.  The main difference, for me, is that in our whole district is only ten students!  Going from the seventeen students in Northfield alone to the ten in my district here has been very interesting.  Another thing is we’re all Americans! This was really disappointing for me I was really looking forward to meeting more people from other countries and seeing how they assimilate to the Italian culture. However other than that the other kids are always really nice and I’m excited to get to know them even better.
  3. Another difference between the Rotary Club here and back home is that here the Rotary Adults are a lot less present in my life.  WE had our orientation day yesterday, which was the first real Rotary event I’ve had during my time here. I was expecting a day with talks and rules and pamphlets but instead we eneded up traveling to this lake and just walking around, eating and shopping.  We thought about the 4 D’s for maybe about 5 minutes but that was all. While it was fun and most people would’ve preferred that, I’m the kind of girl who likes getting information so it was a little disappointing.  However, every Rotary person I’ve met so far has been incredibly welcoming and enthusiastic and their excitement for Rotary makes me so much more excited!
  1. Language: I love the Italian language and I’m so excited to get better and it!  I love when people yell or get upset…not at me though.  I know it’s kind of stereotypical and sorry to my Italian friends who are reading this but it’s TRUE! ;) There are so many vowel sounds and it can get so loud so all of the words just kind of blend together and it’s just so hard to understand but it sounds so cool.  It sounds so strong with still being so beautiful.  I’m very excited to yell at people in Italian when I get home.
  2. Affection: The people here are so incredibly affectionate here, I love it.  Being an exchange student can get pretty lonely, especially for someone like me that needs hugging or cuddling a little bit more than a normal person. But everyone here is so affectionate and it helps so much.  I love the tradition of kissing cheeks whenever you greet someone or say goodbye.  Girls are always hugging me or linking arms with me and it’s stuff like that I just love about this culture and I appreciate so much.  To me it shows how open and welcoming they all are about everything.
I think that staying busy is necessary during this process so I’ve been trying to find some activities for myself after school. I’m starting to get involved in track & field, singing activities, observing the practices of a theater production of the Hunchback of Notredam, and I’m loving the friends I’ve been making at school! I still get weird feelings when I think about staying here for 8 more months and I miss my life back home so much.  But everyday I get a little more accustomed here, and I’m starting to believe the reality of it more and more.  It’s a difficult process but I’m in love with the Italian culture and the Italian people.  I really appreciate reading peoples comments so comment away or email me!
Ciao <3