Friday, November 26

26.Novembre. 2010 - “Ringraziamento"

 The past two weeks have been pretty eventful. I've had a lot of fun times especially with the other Rotary Students in my district. They've been such a blessing to me during this time and I'm so thankful for them!

We went to our first Rotary dinner and I met A LOT of older men in sharp business suits. We had a classic "Cremonese" meal, listened to some long speeches and me the governor of our district who was quite a hoot as you can see to the left. :) This night was really fun for me because it was probably the first time that I really felt like an exchange student.

I got a chance to see the new Harry Potter came out...not at midnight but at least the first day! It was fun to go and see how much of it I could understand and what things I still needed to work on.  I also learned a lot of new, magical vocabulary words.

Sunday was the "Festa Del Torrone" Which was a festival that celebrated Torrone, a type of candy.  We congregated with the other students in District 2050 and we walked around Cremona in the rain and tasted the Torrone. It was fun to see the town set up in "festival mode" kind of similar to the festivals we have in Northfield

Us Americans made and shared a lovely Thanksgiving meal together on Thursday. It was all delicious and I felt just as sick as I normally do after eating so it seemed close to normal. :) I can tell that the holiday season is going to be very difficult with missing my family and my traditions but I'm very lucky to have such a great family here.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Thursday, November 11

11. Novembre. 2010 "Walking in an Italian Fog"

At this time of the year, in my region of Italy, the streets are consumed by a thick, mysterious and yet beautiful blanket of fog. It starts sweeping in at around five-thirty every night and lingers there patiently until eight in the morning. By the time I go for my nightly run (or walk..these days) the fog is so dense that you can only see things that are within a five meter radius. T he only clues that you're not about to walk off the face of the earth, are the faint glowing balls of hope in the distance; the lamps that line the street.

People that know me, know that I am a “planner”. I usually have, at least, one planner of my upcoming events, and it's very difficult for me to spontaneous. A lot of high school, especially senior year, was about planning for the future. What classes did you need to order to get good order to get into a good order to get a good job etc. However, here in Italy, I have nothing to plan. This year is about...this year. Of course, I will take back with me new friendships, languages and lessons learned, but I have a stable future, or the start of one, set out for me when I return. I'm walking through this experience like I am walking through an Italian Fog.

I have my own streetlamps that illuminate little parts of my future here: Rotary events, class trips or holidays. Most of my path though, besides what's going on right around me is unknown. It's forcing me to live in the moment, because really I have no idea what's going to happen tomorrow or in a week or two. I have to find out when I get there and enjoy it at that moment before it's gone again lost in the fog behind me.

It can be scary walking down a path that sometimes seems like it has no end, but those little lights keep me curious and heading forward and I know that I'm going to discover so many memorable moments that come out of no where. And for now, I'm enjoying my walk through the unknown.

Friday, November 5

5. Novembre. 2010 "Mese Numero Due"

I cannot believe that I arrived in Italy two months ago today. Before leaving for Italy, the longest time I'd ever been away from home had been two weeks and now I haven't slept in my own bed in over 60 days. I know I talk about the concept of time so much but I just can't get over the fact that these two months seemed like they went by so quickly but then how it also feels like I've been here forever. I was just reading my first blog after my first week of being here. I said it felt like I'd been there forever and now weeks go by so quickly. So after two months most of my problems seem to be getting better but I've had a pretty difficult last couple of weeks. Dealing with loneliness has been my biggest problem these days. Because of the location of where I live and the fact that my host mom works until very late most nights, after school I have to take the train home and then usually most days I'm at my home alone until 8 at night. I've tried to get involved with some after school activities but all of them are in Cremona and at night and I have no way of getting into town so that makes it very difficult. There are also not really many kids in my little village or a place where they go to hang out where I could meet the few inhabitants. The kids in my class are very sweet and I like them a lot but otherwise I don't have very many friends here and that's extremely difficult for me because I'm such an extrovert. However, I'm very very fortunate to have such lovely other exchange students here. I know that everyone tells us to be careful of spending too much time with the other exchange students, but I'm so thankful I have some people to talk to and laugh with during school and on the weekends. I know that when I change houses and move into Cremona I'll be able to get together with people after school and participate in my after school activities. These days have been extremely difficult for me but I know that these moments will pass and time will continue to move faster and faster. I'm fortunate, though, to have such an amazing support system back home. I realize that it wasn't they're choice to have me leave for an entire 10 months and I realize that it's difficult for them too, but they're strength and support for me has made all the difference. It's times like these that I know will make me stronger, and I know that things are looking up. I always appreciate thoughts and prayers and feel free to contact me at anytime.  Grazie a tutti :) 

Tuesday, November 2

2.Novembre.2010 - “Time to Be a Tourist”

I believe that one of the main objectives of a Rotary Exchange Student is to live life like a regular Italian teenager, boring moments and all. However, I have ten months in this beautiful country and I'm determined to see as much of it as I can. So last weekend I took matters into my own hands and had some really fun adventures!
Adventure #1: Castell'Arquato
Castell'Arquato is a small Italian town that has maintained the same medieval appearance as it was in the early 10th century! You have to walk uphill through windy, tiny, cobblestone streets to get to the main piazza at the top of this huge hill. I got to go there with my host brother and some of his friends and they took me there at night. You would never think to go site seeing at night, but I wouldn't have wanted it any other way. It was kind of rainy and the lights and the smell of wood-burning stoves made it a magical experience. I could hardly take it in as I walked through the streets. I felt like I was walking through the set of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, it was amazing. This picture is a picture of the center area at the top of the hill. (the modern cars make it seem a little less magical :) )
Adventure #2: Venenzia (Venice)
Unfortunately, us exchange students here haven't had any oppertunities to travel with Rotary (besides one trip to a lake for a couple hours) since we've gotten here two months ago. So, the four of us American girls in my town decided to take matters into our own hands and with the help of our host parents and siblings we were able to plan a trip to Venice! If you were judging the trip on how things went as planned, the trip would receive an F. However, I believe that things happen for a reason, and even though we missed our train four times, we were only able to stay in Venice for about an hour and it was raining the whole time, I know that I will always look back on that day as one of the most fun days of my life. We talked, laughed, bonded and laughed a lot more. We also got to witness some pretty cool things. We ran into a man that lived in the same small town as one of the other girls on the top of the Scalzi Bridge in Venice. We also were on a train ride where me met a Greek student studying dentistry and man from Canada that happened to have grown up in Greece! I love finding out how small this wonderful world is! The day was full of fun and surprises and I will never forget it!
Us on the Scalzi Bridge in Venice. Picutred: Liz, Lindsi, Me & Katherine (Photo thanks to Katherine)

Adventure #3: Turin (Torino)
this wasn't really so much of an adventure as a class field trip. It turned out to be a 14 hour trip in all so it was very exhausting. It wasn't as exciting as our other trips but Turin is yet another beautiful city in Italy. My favorite part about the city is that you're able to catch glimpses of the Swiss Alps in the distance as you look down each city street. The drive to Turin was almost better just because we got to watch the Alps get closer and more magnificent! Just another beautiful view from a piazza.
I feel like after some of these travels I'm finally starting to get to know Italy a little better. I hope to as many of these famous and beautiful cities as possible! If any of you get a chance to come to Italy..take it! It's just as breathtaking as everyone says it is. :)