Monday, January 14, 2013

Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years, oh my!

     sorry everyone it's definately been a long time since i posted, and a lot has happened since the last time. my computer has been broken so until i get that fixed, it might take a while to post again. last time i posted i think it was just a bit before thanksgiving, so i'll start from there.
     for thanksgiving i made stuffing, corn, and mashed potatoes for my family, which they really liked and were excited to try. my host mom also made an apple pie that night because i had told her before that we usually have that. it wasnt a super big deal because they dont celebrate thanksgiving here, but it was still a nice night with my family. 
our beautiful hotel in florence!
Ponte Vecchio, Florence
     about a week before christmas break, i went on a trip with my organization to florence and it was just beautiful. we stayed at the hotel pendini which really looks more like a monument than a hotel so that was a great experience. there were VERY MANY statues of naked men around, especially in the museums that we went to. i also got to see the painting, the birth of venus, which is very pretty and of course a very famous painting. i was proud of myself because one of the nights, we went out for dinner and one of the appetizers was chicken patรจ. for those of you who dont know, thats chiken liver. anyways, as weird as i thought it looked/smelled, i tried it, beause c'mon, you gotta try everything once dont you? but i stopped at trying it, for me it's just too much like canned dog food. glad i tried that though. 
     on the last day of school before christmas break, when the last bell rang, everybody ran outside, half of the people smoking (like normal), the other half popping bottles of champaigne and splashing it everywhere. great fun italy :) most all of the break i spent in minori, a town on the coast, with my host family and their grandfather. christmas was very nice, we had a lot of family over and a great big feast. its traditional in italy to eat fish on christmas so we had that and squid. 
All the family, at nonno's house for christmas :)
     a few days after christmas, i went to naples for one of my friends birthdays, we had a big party for him with a lot of food and a lot of people. that boy is from australia, and there were two more from there, plus one from quebec. they had actually put out a platter of nutella sandwhiches, and he had snuck about 5 of them in there with vegemite instead of nutella, and so when some of the italians bit into those, oh their faces were just priceless! all of us exchange students spent the night there, and the next night too because it was new years then. they had another party for new years, and had stocked up on about 500 fireworks that we shot off from the balcony. i even got to shoot a gun too! blank bullets of course, but still a real gun! and the view was just breath taking. from one window in their house, you can see vesuvious and the coast, and all of the houses in between there it seemed were shooting off fireworks at midnight. amazing! 
     after all the comotion of fireworks and such went down (well really only a bit of it had calmed down, but hey its naples) we went to a disco that ended at 8 in the morning. as completely exhausting as that was, it was soo much fun and im so glad i got to do that. 
     the 6th of january was befana day, which is something we dont do in america. the befana is an old woman, usually shown as like a witch (a nice one) that comes around and puts candy in all the stockings. so we got some more chocolate and candies that day. 
     now finally, the last thing. The Salerno lights. around christmas, the entire city of salerno covers itself with amazing, beautiful lights that i was lucky enough to go a few days ago to see. there is one street that all the way down has shooting stars, a moon, galexies that kind of stuff, plus a piazza with the entire solar system 
and all the planets. one street has flying carpets, and anoth with flowers. the main place to see though is the central park that they have filled with fairies, mushrooms, and butterflies. squirrels, a peacock, and a polar bear. big swirly trees and some elves hiding around. all this made of lights  of course. plus when you just walk in, you walk through a huge silver tunnel made all out of the lights. we were lucky because when we went, it was a while after christmas, plus it was rainy that day so there was barely anybody else there. my friend had said that when she went there before, there were so many people you could barely see anything.  so once again, sorry it's been so long, i'll try to post again soon! ciao!! 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Pompei!

     Some friends and I went to Pompei yesterday and had ourselves a little look around. Lucky for us it didn't rain so we got a bit of sunshine and (I think all) had a really nice time. We went yesterday because there was another manifestation. Also no cars needed, just a bus and a train ride then we were there.

     We only got to see 2 "bodies" though because the main place where they keep them was closed. Anyways there was still plenty to see, I didn't really know it was a whole city they had on display! The other thing I didn't know was about "Erotic Pompei". For anyone like me who didn't know this, Pompei was a super erotic city when it was..alive, like apperently there was a big house where a lot of the unmarried women lived and there were sculptures of naked men all over. When we left and were looking at the gift shops/stands they had Erotic Pompei calenders, penis sculpturs, and naked man sculpturs, I thought it was pretty funny. Yeah, and I guess we learned a bit of history too. ;)
   Americans! C'mon! We make such a bad impression on the rest of the world, even I was laughing when the groups of tourists would walk by, and definately look/act like tourists. There were people from all over the world there though, so we had fun playing the "guess their nationality game" without people knowing. 
Tabea, Carlotta, Ya, Zara, and Laurance
Great Day!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Happy Halloween!!

     Yeah, I know Halloween was a few days ago, but I havent been online because I was in Minory again! <3 and also was just too busy/lazy since I got back. Halloween here isn't as big a holliday as is is in America, but some kids still dress up and go trick-or-treating in their apartments and at the shops in the corso. Buuttt, there's not many decorations and (from what I saw) no teenagers pulling pranks! Nah, most go to parties or stay with their friends instead. Oh but we do get Halloween off from school, and the rest of the week too because of the day of the dead holliday. Most people go to the cemetaries on these days, but by the time we actually got to the cemetary after coming back from Minori, I'm not sure why but they weren't letting anybody in.
     For Halloween, Laura and I had planned to to go to a "mascarade" party/disco near Minori with her German friend Clelia. This was the night before her mom and Silvio came down to Minori. The whole drive down there it was pouring rain, coming down in buckets, and the strong winds and curvy road on the Amalfi Coast didn't help much either. Mamma was yelling at Laura the whole drive down, like it was her fault. I felt bad for Laura, but she was yelling back at her too. This is normal though, for them it's just like a conversation, but.. louder.


     Anyways, we got dropped off at Clelia's house, all in our costumes (me-vampire, Laura-zombie, and Clelia-black cat) and walked down to the bus stop, which btw was very hard for Laura and I because heels + cobblestone = not fun. There we found out...the party was canceled because of the rain. Darn, oh well. Right after that it stopped raining too! So we went back to Clelia's house and spent the night there, but she had to go back to Germany in the morning. :( She was really nice too! Hopefully she'll come back to Italy before I leave.

     I know this is just a little event here, but I want to remember it. It was just so pretty! The morning after Halloween it was bright and sunny, but because it had rained the night before the buildings and ground were still wet. The way the light was hitting the old buidings and the sun on the water from the ocean was just perfect! The whole town looked like it does in the pictures that make you want to go to Italy in the first place.  
    

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Happy Birthday Laura!

     Last Friday we had our "group councelling" meeting (hanging out in the park, eating, shopping) and ended a little earlier than usual. Laurance (from Quebec) and I didn't quite feel like going home yet though and decided to join her host brother and his friend at the movies in a nearby town. We found out there was no room in the car for us, so jumped on a bus and headed to the ciniplex. The thing is, when the bus went up to that town, it took a different rought than what we were used to and also didn't pass directly by the ciniplex, so by the time we had asked the bus driver where it was, we had already past it long ago, so we got out and started walking. All I can say it that it's a good thing we're used to walking a lot now because we were out there for a long time, at least an hour (partly because we got a little lost, oops!). In the end I'm almost glad that happened though because even though we didn't see the movie, this was a lot more memorable and was an adventure!! When we reached the main road that takes us there and could finally see those golden arches (McDonalds sign) from right next to the movies, we started yelling Gooooaaalllll!! I even took a picture to remember xD
Can you see the tiny McDonals sign way
in the back? GOOOOOAAAALLLL
     I would also have gone to a Halloween party with Laurance the night after, but my host family and I spent the weekend at Nonno's house in beautiful Minori! Even though it was pouring rain almost the whole time, it's still one of the prettiest places I've seen here. Its just such a cute little village with old buildings and little tunnels going between and through them with a big beach at the front of it all. On a walk, Laura took me to see one of the gems in Minori, the Villa Romana. Its this ancient Roman villa that has been excavated like 3 times because of floods and cave-ins and is now is on display for the public. When we signed the visitors book I wasn't sure weather to put California or Avellino as my home.. I put Avellino and smiled.
Villa Romana and some buildings in
Minori. Btw not my picture :P its from
google.

     And as the title of this post sais, it was Laura's birthday yesterday! We started the morning with me jumping on Laura, who was still in bed, and telling her happy birthday. xD Later in the day we got to sit in the freeeezing appartment stairwell because we accidentally got locked out and had to wait for her mom for half an hour. And ending the day with a party for her with 10 or so of her friends. We all put in money and got her a new phone that she's been dying for. Overall, I think it's been a pretty exciting last couple of days.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

There's Gunna Be Some Changes Around Here!

     Well hello there! So I'm going to try making shorter more frequent posts instead of procrastinating and bunching up all this information into giant, boring piles of words. But unfortunately that's exactly what I did.. again, so we have write a huge story today. Bare with me haha. Also I'm going to try posting pictures with these as well so those of you who are not friends with me on facebook can see what I'm talking about too. And we're going to be going a little our of order today, ok? ok!
     Allora, today at school we all got to leave after the 1st hour because there was an assembly that only people who want to go, go. They talk about problems with the school and I guess they have one like every month or so, so that's cool. Well Laura, her friend Lucia, her big sister, and I went to Napoli, which I was pretty excited about because everybody in Avellino it seems just loves it there. And they're right to, it's a beautiful city! but even still, the day turned out to be... less than expected. Not because of the city, but because I felt alone in it. The trip started just as I would have thought, as I'm used to and totally fine with, Laura and Lucia talking in Italian and me, next to them listening and seeing what I can understand. Va benne. Fine. That helps me learn, no problem. The thing is, after about an hour of listening to a conversation you can only understand about half of, you start to lose interest and just find day dreaming to be the more interesting option. With that, when you start to fall behind, it doesn't make much a difference, day dreaming right next to them, or a bit behind. The sister of Lucia (both of them are very nice btw) saw I wasn't really having a great time came over and taught me some more Italian (thank you!). Still, not my ideal day, but I did love getting to see the beautiful city, the ancient castle, and a building (i forget what its called) that is almost identical to its twin right next to the duomo in Milano. I know this is just part of the exchange and I'm sure that it will get better in time when I start being able to speak more of the language.
The Castle in Napoli
     One of the bad things about getting to day dream so much when you are homesick is that home is pretty much the only thing you think about. I kind of just miss having parents that are my parents. Like I definitely feel like Laura is my sister, but my host mom (as nice as she is) feels like the mom of a friend instead. I don't even call her mom like most of the other exchange students call their host parents. Plus, when she introduces me to people, she introduces me as "a friend of her daughter". That just gets me every time. Also all my life I have grown up with dogs around, just always had a dog or two, and the past few years, with my moms dog sitting business, had more than just a couple around the house. But here...niente. I mean, yeah, they have a cat, but he's like bi-polar friendly and he's just not all that cuddly or playful. So most of the days after school(which ends at 1 here don't forget) I have nothing to do! Some nights we do go out, but even then not till 8. Let me paint a picture, it's like 3 o'clock, Laura's sleeping and her mom is out somewhere. Been home for a few hours now, already eaten lunch, checked facebook and emails, what to do now?.. Oh I know! I could play fetch with.... noo. Or I could take for a walk the d-... darn! I guess there'll be something funny on youtube then. :/  (You'd think with all this spare time I'd blog more often, huh? ;) )
     I know I said that the other exchange girls and I would be going to Sorento in the last post but we ended up just going to school instead because we found out the morning of that they cancel the trains that go there when it rains...and it rained. Instead, last Saturday we went to the market in Avellino that's only open on Saturdays. It was great and a lot of fun, made that way mostly because of the awesome friends that were there, love you guys! I also brought back a little present for my host mom, some gorgeous bright yellow flowers and some white lilies, she loves them so that made me really happy.
     So sorry that I've been complaining a lot this post and thanks for putting up with my little vent. Lets end this post on a happy note. :) One of the most amazing, beautiful places in the world that I am absolutely in love with and am so happy we got to drive by is the Almafitan Coast. Because the nonno lives in Minori, the host mom and I drove all along there one day last week to pick him up and hes been staying here since then because it was his birthday yesterday. It was also great to go with someone (host mom) that knows the area so she was able to point out cool things that I might have missed otherwise.
Ok, so not Minori, but it's Salerno. :P Beautiful place!
     Ok, one last thing before I close this, something my sister (real sister) might enjoy hearing. So at one of the riding lessons they put me on this other horse Sara, because another girl was already riding Blu, the horse I usually ride. Now Sara is fine for beginners because shes very old and slow, but for me, not so much. For me, she walks half the track, then the other half when I finally get her to trot, she tries to gallop. So frustrating, but after that I decided to call her instead Ponita because the whole lesson in my head I kept saying, "Ponita is the silliest pony" xD
     Hope you enjoyed reading :) I'll try to post again soon. Ciao!
Laura, not so happily riding Ponita, the silliest pony.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Strike!

     Today we had our first strike of the year! (apparently these happen a lot). Here is is called a "manifestazione" and what happens is that students protest for their rights and problems they want fixed and they do this by everyone not going to school. Well, almost everyone. Laura and I still had to go because I had missed school yesterday getting my Permisso de Sogiorno from the police station and Laura had missed 10 days just a little bit ago because of a fever. The teachers still go to school but just sit around and talk to each other, and the few students that do go do the same and watch movies. This manifestazione, they were protesting that students get in trouble a lot or miss school because the buses are late. I guess it's ok that i went today though, because tomorrow I am going to Sorento (a town in the Almafitan Coast that I heard is lovely) with some of the other girls here on exchange.
      All the girls here on exchange try to meet up once a week after school and just shop, eat lunch, and just hang out. There are a few girls from Australia, one from New Zealand, one from Germany, a few from Taiwan, and some more that I don't remember where they're from, but all of them are very nice and a lot of fun to be with. Two of the girls from Australia and the one from New Zealand though have been here almost a year already though so it will be sad to see them leave in about a month.
     So a few weeks ago I went to the school where my host mom teaches English at because her students all wanted to meet me. It was really funny seeing how their questions for me changed as I met each class from different grades. The second graders were very curious to know things like my favourite color and what animals I like, while the fifth graders were more interested in knowing if i had a boyfriend and what I do when I go out with friends on the weekends. One of the nice students from a lower grade brought me a grammar book for students in second grade and I have just finished reading it a few days ago. It was very helpful actually because it had a lot of short stories written in very simple words and in the back, a few exercises to help with grammar.
Snow was trying to help me learn Italian.
     Another thing I have done so far while I have been here is started horseback riding, and at the last lesson I got to go over a jump for the first time with an instructor! I love that I get to do this because a lot of the time here during the week, you sit home or eat, or at most just walk around but not much exercise. After a few lessons though we had to get our own helmets and the only store for that is in Salerno. So one night last week at almost 8:30 my host mom just said, "ok do you guys want to go to Salerno now?" and really I was surprised because we had school the next morning, even though I shouldn't have been because we always get out late here, everyone does. Unfortunately by the time we got there and had finished walking around, the store was closed, but I'm still happy we went because we got to walk through the old part of the city which is just beautiful, and also the coast! Bellissima! One thing I found out while there, all fountains here are safe to drink from, even the ones that we use only for decoration. I already knew they had certain fountains all over where people come to drink, fill up bottles for later, wash dishes and clothes, but really all of them here are for that.
     I guess that's the rest of it for now, sorry it took me so long to make this blog post. If there's anything you guys want to hear more about or have any questions for me you can leave a comment and I'll be sure to answer it in the next post. :)  

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Orientation, Festivals, and the First Day of School!

     So as you all know I came to stay with my host family a few days earlier than the first planned date, then about 3 days after getting here, I took a train all the way up to Milan for orientation. But what I didn't tell you yet, (but you probably already know anyways) is that is was beautiful there! The weather was sunny and warm the whole time and from the second you get off the train you can tell it's a beautiful place. Really! The train station in Milan is like a palace! Its huge and looks like it would have used to belong to a king. At the hotel I shared a room with 2 very nice girls from different countries in northern Europe (I cant remember which ones, sorry!), but I found out a short time later that  everybody at orientation was from northern Europe except me! The first day we were there we went to see the Duomo which was amazing. I especially loved the huge green doors with engravings of people etched into it. Very neat to see. But unfortunately we couldn't actually go inside because we were all wearing shorts which apparently isn't allowed, darn. Later at night after we went out for dinner (and had burgers and fries!) the half of us who didn't want to go back to the hotel quite yet stayed with the Manuela, the person in charge of us, and went to see the Navigli. They are 2 water channels that run through the streets and on the road next to them are so many restaurants and little shops that light up the path, along with the strings of light bulbs going over parts of the Navigli. The second day we actually had orientation in the morning which just went over the rules and what to expect and how to deal with problems, things like that. Not very exciting, but afterwards we got to go on one of those 2 story buses and take a tour of Milan which was great because you got to see more than what was just right next to the Duomo and hear a little background information on it. Then after the 2 days of orientation, I left early the next morning to go all the way back down to Avellino. Its about a 5 hour trip, and I took the fast train!

Duomo in Milano!




And it's beautiful green doors!












   Because my host family owns a second house in the "country" we were able to go to the festivals in the small village of Salza which is very close to the home. They were so much fun and it was great that I could go because it helped me make even more friends from Laura's friends. For I think 3 nights they had a big festival where the whole town was lit up with these giant structures and arches with colored lights making patterns and designs. Plus they had a stage set up where they had concerts and comedians up for hours. And the fireworks! Oh the fireworks were amazing here! I don't think they have any laws or restrictions on them here because they were wonderful! Laura, me, and some friends were at one of the friends house who lives in Salza and were sitting in the front yard when the fireworks started (even though people had been shooting off their own fireworks all day). But every time one exploded it was almost like you could feel it in your chest. They were shooting them off just down the road so at one point the shells of some of the fireworks fell down on the houses and on us. It seemed like they would never stop shooting them and like all the time was the "grand finale" but eventually they did end, which was when Laura and I were walking down the road to get picked up by her mom, and found the neighbor yelling at the firework people because of the shells. We just went around it but thought it was pretty funny.

     Also while we were at the country house we went just up the road to the horse stables to bring the horses some sugar and found out that if we wanted, Laura and I could take riding lessons. I love riding so I was so happy to hear this, and Laura had never ridden before so she was excited to try. We actually took our first lesson a few days ago and it was very fun except for when we had to stop for a little but in the middle of the lesson because it started pouring down rain on us.
     Finally, the last thing I have to tell you guys for now, was that today was the first day of school! We were surprised this morning to find it raining again outside because yesterday had been hot all day. I was put in the same class with Laura and some of her friends (yay!). The schedule here though is something I will have to get used to. Every day of the week the schedule is different and sometimes you will have 2 classes of one subject in a day and others you will only have twice a week! The good part it, school ends at 1:30, the bad part? School on Saturday. The teachers know that I don't speak Italian yet so they don't expect me to understand the lectures, but from the week I've been living here and listening to Italian everywhere, I've gotten to the point where I can't yet understand a whole conversation or lecture, but I can at least tell what the person is talking about and pick up the key words. Also since I'm at a Liceo Linguistico, I will be taking along with Italian; English, French, and Spanish. Plus the other classes like math, science, p.e., physics, and philosophy.