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.