Sunday, September 18, 2011


Ciao Blog Buddies!

After many hours of sleeping, sitting and crazy nerves, I finally arrived in Italy.

Last minute packing was tough. At this point, I had so many things running through my mind; Will my host family like their gifts? Will they like me? What do I say when I first see them? Do I say ciao or will I sound like an idiot? These kinds of things...

When I arrived in NY, it was up to me to get myself to the hotel...which was quite the challege. Besides the fact that my luggage didn't come in until 35 minutes after I had landed, I had to haul ALL of my luggage up flight of stairs, in the rain, by myself, to get to the airtrain. I finally made it to the hotel where all the exchange students going through AFS to Italy from USA met, we had an orientation, and then we flew all together to Switzerland. After we arrived in Zurich, we had about an hour layover. This is when we had our first experience with a team of teenage boy soccer players! whoo!

From Zurich, we flew to Rome, where AFS held a 2 day orientaion. This orientation was of ALL the traveling students going to Italy through AFS from all around the world! Im guessing about 700 students. The food was much better here, might I add. We were grouped into the region of Italy that we were going to and learned the basics: what to say when you first meet your host family, how to help around the house, how to handle school, who to talk to if we had any problems...etc. We also learned a little about the region if Italy we were about to spend the next 10 months in. I am located in a city called Genova which is an old port city located in the region of Liguria. Genova is one of the cities in Italy that has the highest motorbike and vespa population and was home to Christopher Columbus. After Rome, I had a 6 hour train ride to Genova. Let me just tell you, when you have to wait that long to meet your host family, your nerves decide to double! As tired and exausted as I was, there was now way I could sleep on that train. (I couldn't sleep on the flight to Zurich either) When Joseph, the AFS volenteer taking my group to our cities said that I need to get my stuff ready, I couldn't help but smile. Despite the fact that I was tired, hungry, and looked pathetic in the bright yellow AFS tee that I was forced to wear...I was ready.

There were 3 other students located near or in Genova with me, so when we arrived in the train station, there was a crowd of Italian fans hording the train doors. Im not sure how to explain this feeling but as I replay it over and over in my mind in slow motion, I remember it bringing laughter, excitement, warmth, questions, and reality to my body and mind. Becuase in that moment, I knew that this was my new life. I will not step foot on any American land (or American food for the matter) for a whole year.

When I saw my host sister trying to get my attention through the busy excited crowd, I was so excited to actually see her in person, after many months of staring at their photos, anticipating the moment that I would finally have the honor of meeting them. The first thing we did? They took me straight to their favorite Gelateria (:

After being here a week, I already feel comfortable and part of the family. I am still getting used to the rules and traditions of the Italian lifestyle but they will come with time. School is very different and I am still not quite used to it. I attend Liceo Scientifico Leonardo di Vinci. I am taking Math, Biology, Philosophy, History, Dante, English, Latin, Physics, Art and PE. I know what your thinking...and your right. This is simply impossible when you dont know what your teachers are saying. I have yet to start my Italian lessons  therefore I can't speak or understand anything in class, but again, this will come with time.

Being an exchange student means adjusting to adjustments. You have to learn to be patient and willing to abandon your old life, your old routine and your old habits and be willing to accept a new life, a new routine and new habits. Its easy to say that you will do something but actually doing it is 10x harder. I told myself I was not going to let myself get down and want to come home, but this early in the game, it is easy to miss home and just want to curl up with your mom. I do miss home. But I also have one here which I am so thankful for.

Lucia (my host sister) and I are going to make a chocolate cake for the family. These are the things that make up for sad moments (:
I'll get back to you.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

My Departure-itis

So, you know the saying about seniors who can't wait to finally be done with high school having "senioritis"? Well...that's me right now. But if you have been reading my blog, you know my departure-itis “symptoms” are caused by something much more…emozionante! Side affects include anxiety, random thoughts, restlessness, over excitement and a wee bit of stress.

Hey guys, it's me again, Emma. I am one of many exchange students (to-be) sitting at home right now while all of her friends are in the freshly waxed classrooms of their high school. Yep, the reason I am able to write this blog so early in the day is because I am not at school. Some call me “lucky” while others call me a “ditcher”. No matter the name, my chance has finally arrived. It's weird to think back on the days I was counting down from 150 days and now its less then 10. I fly out of NY on the 8th September!

Through time, I was able to contact helpful people in Italy as well as my host family, and received information about my school. I will be attending Liceo Scientifico Leonardo da Vinci. For those who don’t know how the Italian school system works: The word “Liceo” refers to a class of secondary schools. These schools each differ in their overall subject. (Liceo Sientifico (math and sciences), Liceo Languistico (languages), Liceo Tecnico (technology), Liceo Artistico (arts and history)…etc) Each school also provides more basic key classes as well.  I was placed in a Liceo Scientifico where I will find good chemistry and math teachers. Also, classes consist of about 30 kids who stay in the same room all day, while the teachers switch from class to class! Much different from high schools in the United States!  

After I had received my host family, my excitement and occasional sadness of leaving family and friends had over ridden some of my hopes and determination. I failed to find a summer job to keep myself occupied during summer, and instead had a summer well spent with my friends and learning the Italian language. Looking back, I wish I could change things. Mostly, I wish I had stuck to a job offer that was offered by a dear friend of mine and I regret that I didn’t follow through with my plans to help fundraise. My big yard sale still hasn’t worked out yet since Mom is busy working and weekends seem packed with what seems like endless Italian lessons and family visiting to say goodbye.

Beginning yesterday, I started packing. Let’s just say 44lbs should be a minimal for a teenager like me. You got it; AFS only allows one 44lb suitcase and one 22lb carry on. At first, I freaked out! There was no way that all my clothes were going to fit in those 2 bags. After hours of rummaging through my closet and cleaning out the clothes that I should have gotten rid of years ago, I finally started rolling my clothes and “test packing” them in my suitcase. To my surprise, it fit! I was shocked to find that all those clothes only weighed 30 lbs! Then……..I realized something. Those 30lbs was not including shoes, boots, jackets, or my host family’s gifts!

This has been one of the hardest things to prepare for, but I have no doubts that it won’t be as simply amazing as I imagine it to be. Now it’s up to me to finish packing, keep up on my language courses and prepare for hours on a plane.

I will make sure to update when I arrive in Italy.


Monday, April 4, 2011

Being Accepted

Hello again!

     Well, basically, my dream came true! After waiting two months to hear back from AFS Italy to see if I was accepted, the email finally came! But, I didn't just receive an email from AFS Italy. It just so happens that my host family in Genoa had accepted me and told me the news first hand on my sixteenth birthday. I couldn't ask for more! Now, it is up to me to successfully raise my tution costs and slowly but surley teach myself the Italian language. (:

P.S. AFS has designated the month of April as the "fundraising month" whereby each dollar (up to $500) raised here on my (and other AFSers') blogs, is matched by them.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Getting Started

Hello Everybody! Before I get started, I would like to say that this is my very first time ever blogging and I do not intend on boring you with some of the tedious realities of my small town life. Instead it is my goal to, more or less, excite you with the fact that you are reading about an extremely curious girl... who had a big town dream...and made it come true. If you are already bored, I recommend kindly leaving my blog, no hard feelings. So here I go...

My name is Emma Knight and I was raised in the small northern California town of Yreka. I am the youngest of 3 kids and just recently have come to accept the reality of being a "new" only child. My time alone has boosted my willingness and extreme curiosity of studying abroad and has opened my eyes to endless opportunities. I had been planning to apply to be an exchange student since the 7th grade and it has always been my dream to travel the world. Growing up in a small town, my awareness of the outside world is limited to what I have around me. What do I have around me? Let's just say that my everyday life consists of eating my bowl of Raisin Bran in the morning, going to my local high school, coming back home and begin preparing my favorite part of my day; dinner. I am happy to say that my mom and I share our passionate love for food and it has always brought us together and has created a flavorful hint of creativity and curiosity into my life.

My decision to study abroad with AFS was based on the positive feedback that I had received from past AFSers. I have heard nothing but good things about AFS and when I went to their website, I am proud to say that I was then positive that they were a good match for me, offering me the perfect experience of studying abroad. I have no expectations of my trip abroad other than I know that I’m going to learn a lot. I am going to physically and emotionally immerse myself in a new family, a new culture, and a new language. I am curious about how this experience will change my views on life and our country as I know it. I plan to really put myself out there while I am abroad so that I can get the full experience and bring everything back to my community. I plan to try new cuisine, be apart of new traditions and create long-lasting friendships. When I return, I plan to speak at my high school and encourage others to welcome a new culture into their life.

To cover the cost of my trip abroad, I have developed a fundraising plan that will help add to my parents’ contribution. My plan includes: summer job, community fundraising dinner, a huge garage sale, corporate sponsors and you, my blog buddies. Whatever you choose to contribute to my trip, I am extremely thankful. To end my first blog, I would like to say thank you. Over and out….for now.

To sponsor my AFS program now, please click the ChipIn button.