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.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Here at last!

     Ciao! It felt like eternity but I finally made it to Italy! I had to take 3 flights with 2 layovers, the second one being painfully long and made even worse because I got sick. Bleh. But it was well worth the wait because I am here and it all seems perfect right now! We live in an apartment in the middle of town on the 8th floor. You can see everything from the balcony, including the high mountains neer the city. One of them has a church way up high on it and the mother told me she would take me there to see it one day. Last night I shard a room with my sister but I dont think I will the whole time because there is an extra bedroom too. The floors here are all marble and the mother is amazed that I dont wear shoes in the house because she thinks it is very cold on the feet but i dont mind it. Also she insists that I blow dry my hair after every shower so that I dont get cold. The shower here is new and is a little different but really cool. It has a radio in it and it can make the water come from either right above you, all around you, or with the hand held shower head thing that has a stand on the wall. It looks like something you would see in a scifi movie like a little shower portal xD And they have a bidet (or however you spell it) in all the bathrooms here. I have no idea how to use that so for now I think I'll just stay with using only the toilet haha.
     They also have another house in the country which we visited today because it is not too far. It has 2 floors and a huge balcony that surrounds 2 sides of the house and on one side is like a patio sort of. Besides their cat, Snow who lives at both places from time to time, the mother has started keeping these 2 stray dogs who came to her house and she named one of them Jo. They are as sweet as can be and they are getting fed very well. They get all the leftovers and anything left in the pot after cooking, and because I dont eat very much at one time, they get even more. Last night we just had pizza from the local Pizzeria and it was DELICIOUS. The crust is not big like in America, but like a thin bread. Yumm. But for lunch today was when we really ate. Lunch is very big for them. First momma made a big pot of spaghetti with pesto. I saw her put it on 2 plates and it was very much so I asked for a little less because i could not eat that much. The amount she gave me could still have fed 2 of me xD Then after that (I didnt know there would be anything after, I was already stuffed!) she put on new plates for us this delicious dish of chicken with peppers and olives and cut bread to soak up the sauce. It was soo good and i felt bad because I could only eat a little bit being that full from pasta. And even more after that was fruit, we had white watermelon, which i didnt even know existed. Whew I was full. We would have gone to see the horses that live in that city, but the place where they keep them was closed, so we will see them another day. We drove into the small town there with Laura's friend accompanying us and got ice cream bars. I couldnt believe we were still going to eat after lunch, haha but im not one to pass on ice cream! For a long time after Laura, here friend, and I walked around town, saying hi to people they knew and stopping at a few parks to sit.
     I have been walking a lot here especially. Yesterday, a while after I got back from the airport and showered we went walking and didnt come home till dinner, then went out again after! haha It seems like everybody does this here because we would constantly bump into some of here friends, walk with them a little bit or just say hi, then carry on our way. It is surprisingly fun really.
     Tonight we are going to a surprise birthday party for one of Laura's friends and tomorrow we are going to go to a celebration in the town where Clara (Laura's friend) lives so we will spend the night in the house in the country. I could write on and on about this amazing place but now I have to go get ready for the party. Ciao for now!