Friday, July 3, 2009
Ok, so here is the detailed schedule for my near future:
Tomorrow morning I will wake up early (a bit before 7 I think) to head to Torino with my host parents Simo e Eros. (I have to say goodbye to my brother ans sister tonight, because they aren't coming to the station with us.) At 9.05 my train leaves for Roma, and I will be in a train car with only other AFSers all together!
I have packed up some plastic knives, a big pack of cookies and a jar of nutella for us all on the 7 hour long ride down!
When we arrive we will meet up with the AFS Rome volunteers and head to our hotel where we will have a riunione with tutti i altri AFSers in Italia!
Then, Sunday morning we have our adieu's and I get on a plane for Paris with the other Americans ( I think there are about a hundred of us in all!)and finally to New York.
But it doesn't end there. From New York I find my dad who will fly into JFK from Arizona to meet me, and then we are going to rent a car and spent a week back east visiting colleges! Then a week from tomorrow we fly home together from Boston to Pheonix where my mom, sister and Andrea (italian student staying with us for the summer!) will pick us up.
I'm really looking forward to coming home! I miss my family like crazy! I miss my friends! I miss english! I miss my house, I miss my dog, I miss my bed, I miss pine trees and skunks and driving! I miss cheddar cheese! I miss soy and tofu and veggieburgers! I miss mac and cheese! I miss real mexican food! I miss Flagstaff, and I miss my high school! I miss DANCE.
I miss home, but at the same time, I don't want to leave! I wish I had done the year program, because Now I finally speak italian but I have to leave! I know that I would learn so much more and create closer bonds with my family and friends here if I had more time. I think that I'm learning more and more each day now at the end because I am arriving at a level of understanding where I can stop fussing over congiugations and just talk. At the beginning, sure I learned a lot and grew, but at a slower pace due to my language handycap. Now I see my potential and am determined at least to continue studying italian and to come back one day!
I've grown a lot during these months I've had here. I think the biggest way I've changed is that I have expanded my point of view and my opportunities. Six months ago I was determined to go to college right after High school and to always try to be the best, but I never imagined what the best could be! Now I know that I want to travel and come back to Italy, maybe with the Dartmouth program abroad, maybe with AFS again, maybe on my own, who knows! I have seen the reality of how huge and diverse our world is, but also that nothing is too big or too far. The world seems a little bit more attainable to me now. Now I'm determined to do much much more.
I think I've changed.
"What are going to do tomorrow Brain?"
"Tomorrow, Pinky... We take over the WORLD"
Thank You and Goodnight.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
It's been a while, no? I'm sorry about that, but I haven'te been home for about two weeks due to my AFS End of Stay camp and a week at the sea side for vacation!
Well, what to say? I have about a million various things that don't really flow together or make any sense in a story format, so I'm just going to give you bullet points of my life as stuff pops into my head. Ok?
-I HAD MY FIRST DREAM IN ITALIAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I was with my host family in this funky glass square building and it included frogs and mini crocodiles and an oozing blob monster... but IT WAS IN ITALIAN! So I was totally psyched despite the mostro e rane e minicocodrilli!
-At the End of Stay camp we played games, reflected on our experiences and chilled with the other 60 kids in Piemonte from all over the world. We were from the U.S,Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Austria, Swizerland, Germany, Brazil, Spain, Argentina, Chile, China, Thailand, Belgium, Romania, Iceland, Greenland, and a bunch of other countries I'm forgetting... so basically it was totally awesome that all of us from all over the world were chilling together and speaking italian!
-Onegame we played that was oodles of fun was where everyone was sitting in a circle with one person in the middle. Every girl is given a number and everyboy is given a letter (hope there aren't more than 23 guys) and the person in the middle calls out a number and a letter at random. If the person in the middle is a girl, then the boy who's letter is called has to try and kiss her before the other girl who'e number is called kisses him! And vise versa if it's a goy in the middle! It was pretty hilarious! And don't worry, the kisses were all on the cheek...
-So I spent an entire week at the sea, spending almost all day, everyday on the beach, and I still can't say I'm tan... I mean, I'm more tan than I was before, but I'm still just a little white girl through and through. Not fair.
-I only have 10 more days with my family here! AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!! I'm freaking out! I feel like every day I get closer and closer with them and that I just want to stay here with them longer! But at the same time I miss my family back home like crazy and only 10 days seems too good to be true!
-A couple weeks a go I encountered giant italian veggetables! (forgive my rusty spelling!) Tomatoes called cow hearts because they are so huge! And sweet peas from my nonno's garden that are bigger than my dads sausage fingers! They were pretty impressive!
-At the camp on the last night we had a talent show, and it was mandatory for everyone to participate. It was awesome! I did some drumming improve with a friend named Jaime (pronounced hi-may) and everyone was so awesome! Qitao and 3 other chinese kids sang a song in chinese, and Xiang from China and Kevin from Germany sang frere Jaques in italian together, then in chinese and then in german! (I sang it to myself in english and french too...) A girl from India danced for what seemed like a half hour, and I don't think I'm exagerating, but it was still realy pretty. Two guys from the states sang and played guitar of songs from Flight of the concords, a huge group of girls sang Ciao Bella together, a girl balanced a spoon on her nose, Taylor from Australia sang with a total rockstar amazing voice while Lucho played guitar, and another really really tall guy from china sang My Eye Is on The Sparrow in english and he had the voice of an angel I tell you! Over all, we rock. Go Us!
-On the last day of school everyone brought various stuff like coca cola, an apricot cake, chips, tea... etc. Then my math teacher made us a lemon cream cake as well! And we didn't do anything all day because instread of classes there was a volleyball tournament with all of the 5th year classes against the professors! And at the end of the day when the last bell rang, some of the 5th year graduates popped open a couple bottles of champagne on the school steps to celebrate their freedom! Haha! It was a good day!
Ok... I think that's all for now... I have to go confront my email after two weeks of absence... Ciao!
Thursday, June 4, 2009
"Planet Hell" (which, when pronounced by italian toungues sounds more like a blurred "plan-hotel"...) is the disco that I went to last monday night for the end of school dance!
Era FANTASTICO!!! I was nervous that I wouldn't like it because it was my first dico, but I had a blast! When I asked my friends about it before hand they said that italian disco's aren't as "bello" as american high school dances... and I don't know what movies they've been watching because I thought it was way cooler!
First of all, there was a HUGE disco ball...
then there were strobe lights, colored stage lights, smoke machines, live bands, great DJ's, multiple dance floors, two bars, a pool, and if you came early they also serve you dinner! (of course you pay extra for that...)
I wore my new green gress that I bought back in December at Dillards for the Winter Formal with a pair of ridiculously high black heels. About two minutes after leaving the house I realized that it was a dumb choice of footwear for going dancing in, but I managed to dance all night long anyways! It was painful, but I just kept danceing and I didn't even remember the searing pain on the balls of my feet! The next day the bottoms of my feet were all achy and sore, but amazingly I didn't have any blisters or anything too unpleasant!
There were TONS of people there, first of all because all the highschools in Piemonte were invited, and second of all because it wasn't exclusivly for highschoolers, but was also open to the public. It was bizzare...
I have to admit that school dances back at home seem pretty tame and dare I say boring in comparison... Now I have a different point of view to present on Student Council next year!
SEGUE: So, While I've been enjoying myself in Italy I have also had to think about things back at home, like the student council elections! I managed ( don't ask me how I was able to stay on top of this!) to write out a speech for my dearest friend Emily to read in my place at the elections, and my wonderful Mother made posters for me and Emily put them up at school, and now I am the New Student Council TREASURER! Huzzah!
So... Planet Hell... Crowded, loud, lively, oh! And the main dance floor is outside with a cover, but it rained! It was actually kind of nice because you kept warm dancing, and then when you got to hot dancing you could go sit under one of the christmas-light covered trees and relax!
I went with my Dearest host cousin, Silvia and a group of our friends, and then I ran into two friends from my class at school as well. We all had a wonderful evening (ending at about 3.30 in the morning) and were able to sleep in the next day due to the vacation! Yay!
Now, I only have the rest of this week, and half of next week of school and then it's summer vacation!!! Then 11-14 June I have the AFS End of Stay camp! Then the following week I'm going to the sea with my family, and then before you know it I will be on my way back home! Yowzah! Ok, time to get of the computer and do something more italian! Ciao tutti!
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Go me! Don't ask me how I am learning more german over here than french... it's really quite bizzare. English, italian, french, german... when I was little I thought it was impressive to be able to count to ten in spanish (which by the way is now an impossible task for me because my tongue automatically switches to italian and I can't figure out those simple ten words I used to be able to recite by heart!).
German (tedesco in italian) is really just a funky language in my opinion... I mean, the word for italian in german is italienisch...weird, right? And if you are bored in germany, you exclaim Stingklangweilich!
You know how the longest word in the english language is honorificabilitudinitatibus (27 leters long, invented by William Shakespeare meaning bestowing great honors...or something like that)? Well, I'm pretty sure the longest word EVER has to be german...
Ok, Ciao for now! (look who's posting two day's in a row again!)Vi voglio bene!
Monday, May 25, 2009
I feel ridiculously jubilant to say that I am on page 139 of a book completely written in italian... that I just started a couple days ago... =D
*a neve ferma*is the culinary term for when you whip egg whites till they are stiff, I think the term in english is something like *firm slopes*
and let me write a couple of the chapter titles to you:
Emma e La Vera Mousse al Cioccolato, L'intero del croissant, Tre Meringhette Perfetto Amore, La Torta Di Noci Variegata Cubana, La Crosticina della Crème brulèe, Uno strato di Meringa al Cioccolato... not to mention La Creme Ottobre (The dessert that made Stalin cry...).
Can you guess how much I love this book?
I keep a dictionary at hand if I stumble on something, but generally I don't waste my time looking stuff up because I can figure it out from the context! Isn't that so exciting! I've been reading books in english and some boring childrens books in italian, but now I shall only read full out novels in italian! Non ho piu voglia per leggere in inglese!
And now for a general update on me (in Italy! >.< ):
I have finally converted my height to meters = 1 metro e 67 centimetri ( I have also converted my pounds to kiligrami, but we don't have to post that online! ;)
I love my hair.
I have made chocolate chip cookies with my host mom and wish there was an easier way to convert cups of butter to grams of butter (God save you if you try converting to mililiters!).
I am finally starting to tan a tiny bit!
I got a big bottle of contact solution and wear my contacts more often.
I have changed my bed comforter from a thick blue warm one to a thinner blue one with Nemo and Dori on it!
Life is good!
Ciao for now! Vi voglio bene!
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Please excuse the camera shadow in the first one... :P
Sunday, May 10, 2009
My mom, (Julia/Giulia) has always ecouraged me to go on a foreign exchange, and has helped me tremendously tomake my dream a reality. From the very beginning of this AFS buisness my mom has helped me stand up to all the difficulties of becoming a foreign exchange student:Per esempio, the mountains of application paperwork, the dissapointment of not getting into my choice country (twice), and having to drive me across an eight hour long desert (twice, aswell)
to apply for my visa. She went through the hell-ish stress and worry with me through out the entire process, and now I hope to pay her back by letting her know how amazingly happy I am as the result of everything she has done for me!
I have had amazing experiences here that I will learn from for the rest of my life, both good and not so good... (lets not go into the crazy catastrophy of last night where I accidentally got on the wrong train and was on my way to Savona instead of Savigliano and had to find a way to communicate my dillemna to my host family and my friend/AFS assistent who was waiting for me in Savigliano without a cellphone or the ability to use italian payphones...)
I have eaten thousands of different types of cheeses (or at least it tastes like I have!) and pastas.
I have learned a completely new and beautiful language that I will cuss in for the rest of my life.
I have discovered how much I love and appreciate my home and family.
I have bought bright sparkly gold pants.
I have legally drunk some amazing alchohol (dessert wines... o dio.)
I have spent the afternoon sun-tanning on the italian riviera while reading Charles Dickens in two languages.
I have changed and grown inside (and outside!) and I have to thank my mom for it all.
Grazie. Ti voglio bene. Happy Mothers Day.
Saturday, May 9, 2009
So I have BIG news.
I started using the coffee machine at school. I discovered that it makes hot cocoa too! It's a big old vending machine type thing where you put in 30 cents (centesimi) and out pops a plastic cup that starts getting filled with whatever drink you pushed the button for, sugar and a little stirring spoon! It was fabulous! The hot cocoa is sugary and thick and wonderfully toasty hot! I love it! It was much more pleasant that munching on some olive crackers from the other vending machine!
Now... I must go... CIAO!
Friday, May 8, 2009
Now a days, school is getting easier, I'm participating in more and understanding a LOT more! I actually got an 8 1/2 (on a scale from 1 to 10, 5 being failing, 10 being impossible) on my german test which is pretty darn awesome if I do say so myself! I'm learning stuff, I'm speaking italian (still not fluent, but getting along beautifully), and I'm happy.
Time is soaring.
I have passed the three month marker and ran straight into a giant wall of homesickness. It hurt, but rather than becomeing miserable with where I am now, home just became a sweeter treat to look forward to. I actually think that getting homesick was what I needed because otherwise I would make myself miserable knowing I only have two months left in Italy!!!
When I hit the halfway marker a letter arrived for me in the mail, from me. I wrote it to myself at the pre-departure orientation back in January... and reading it made me think about if I've changed since then.... the only significant change I could see was that my handwriting is different. I'm still me... I'm the same freckled, smiley, tooth-missing girl, but I get the feeling that I've opened up my eyes a little wider being out of my given place on this planet. Having the courage to live in Italy where the language, smell, and cheese is all different has given me the courage to look into my future and accept that anything literally could happen there, and I'm okay with that.
I can be pretty eloquent when I want to, huh? ;D
Oh, and by the time I return back into my world I won't have only changed on the inside... a significant physical change is presently in the planning process, but I won't give it away until after the fact and I can get a picture posted up here for you.
So that's all for now folks! Please do excuse me for the shorter post this time, and the rarety of my posts, but I find Italy much prettier outside of cyberspace. I can't resist the sunshine calling my name...
CIAO! BACI A TUTTI!!!!!!!!! <3
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
And now... some pictures!!!
This is (from left to right) Serena, Me, and Sofie in MILAN!!!!!!!!!!!! In fact... right after this picture we went out into the big piazza in front of the cathedral and were on national television! There is this music tv show and the Host of the show, Carlos is allways filmed infront of this piazza, and everyone in a while they film the people below and there was a crowd of kids in my class that was filmeded and when we saw ourselves on TV (there is a big screen up on one end of the piazza) we went craZY!!! but... it was raining... so all of Italy saw the top of my umbrella... It's still pretty cool though!
This is Davide and Erika (aunt) at the big lunch celebration for Davide's first communion!!!!! And his celebration tiramisu-cake!
This is Davide and Simo playing at the
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Anyways... Today was the first communion of my little brother Davide!!!!!!!!!!!
I went to church and actually understood some of it with the help of my memories in english! There was a group of 50-ish kids who were all on the same boat, so they didn't even read a list of everyone included because it would take too long. The mass itself was just like in the U.S. as far as I can tell, except during the part where you shake hands with the people around you and wish them peace, here they spent more time shaking EVERYONE'S hand they could reach with a sincere "pace".
After mass was lunch.
O.K. here we go... we went to a fancy restaurant place...
Before we even sat down was the
Next was another pasta dish that is tipical piemontese too: Ravioli with spinach and cheese inside with a light cream sauce on top, which was delightful!
Then, before the main dish we had lemon sorbet,Which was served in a little champagne-type glass because it was frothy and light so you could drink it.
The main dish was a little steak-type-thing with roasted potatoes and cookied spinach, I justhad the potatoes and spinach, but I don't know how to comunicate to you how wonderfully happy I was to be eating slimy cooked spinach. The flavor! The Flavor!!!! Oh Jesus!
Desert was a giant tiramisu cake! This puppy was HUGE! It more closely resembled a pizza...
Lastly was coffee. But I haven't meantioned yet the beverages that went with this lunch! I had a glass for white wine and a glass for red wine, a water glass, and another little champagne-type glass for the special dessert wine we had with the tiramisu cake. I had the same dessertwine at easter and I LOVE it. If I ever develope a drinking problem it will be because of this wine.
The entirety of this eating parade lasted five hours... Oof. None of us ate dinner...
Oh!!! And guess what!!!???? two Thursdays ago when I went to Torino with a group of AFS kids and I went to the cinema museum I saw the origional hat of CHARLIE CHAPLIN!!! AND I saw the real diamond jewelry set of MARILYN MONROE!!! And also a pair of her shoes!!! And a sexy corset-like top of hers!!!! It was SO COOL!!! She had normal sized feet... I always assumed she had small dainty feet...
Friday, April 17, 2009
Thats all for now folks! Ciao ciao!
Friday, April 10, 2009
Actually, I find Barack Obama in my everyday live in Italy aswell! He is in every newspaper, he is always on the evening news, and he also found me in France last week! It was on the final day of my trip in France and we had some time for shopping before the long 7 hour busride back to Fossano. I bought myself a lovely black 3/4 sleeve shirt and some chocolates for my host family, Sofie bought an intensely brilliant blue shirt with sequins, Luisa boughtsoap poppy bubble bath things for a friend... but Lucia
Lucia, the shopaholic fashion queen of the class bought a Yes We Can Obama shirt.
I feel ridiculously patriotic sometimes...
Then Elena Armellini (her nickname is Armelline,isn't it pretty!?) bought this magnificent T-shirt:
Now, this is something else that I bought in France... Crepe aux chocolat. Only the most heavenly thing in this universe...
I ate that magnificent crepe with 5 other girls in my class we were all speechless afterwords... once we were able to talk again we went back to the tiny little kitchen and profoundly thanked the cook, Michel.
It was an afternoon well spent.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
I only have three days of school this week, and tomorrow is the last one!
Dopo scuola domani io vado con i miei amici nella mia classe a Cuneo per pranzo!
After school tomorrow I go with my friends in my class to Cuneo for lunch!
Dopodomani è il compleanno della mia sorellina Agnese!!!!
The day after tomorrow is the birthday of my little sister Agnese!
Il giorno dopo dopodomani vodo a Torino per la gita con gli altri ragazzi stranieri con intercultura!
The day after the day after tomorrow (Friday) I go to Turin for the trip with the other foreign students with AFS.
E la miei cari amici è quando mangio il montagne di cioccolato nella cucina.
And that my dear friends is when I eat the mountain of chocolate in the kitchen.
Are you jealous?
Penso di si.
I think you are.
Ma la migliore parte è che non vado a scuola ancora fino a mercoledi prossima.
But the best part is that I don't go back to school again untill nest Wednesday.
La vita è buona.
Life is good.
Sunday, April 5, 2009
Some of my friends when we went out for breakfast together at a tiny little cafe before school! And the beautiful cappucinni!
The croissants al cioccolato at this cafe are claimed to be the best in town! I definitly believe it!
I am also working on a massive photo update on facebook so check out what I have up so far! I will worn you that I took over 300 pictures in the past 4 days from my trip to France so It may take a while getting you up to date!
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Try really hard to picture me in your mind's eye... short light brown hair, green eyes, freckles, a smile, shy, quiet, good natured... Now, try to add the backround of a typical american bar, dimmly lit, loud music, a pool table, beer, the works.
Ladies and Gentlemen: Michelle Olguin went to the James Joyce Pub!
I went with Silvia, my host cousin, and a group of her friends to said pub in Savigliano which is about (frantically trying to convert from km to m!) 8-10 miles from Fossano. We monopolized one end of the tiny little pub both physically with about 15 of us crowded around two tiny little tables, and vocally(which is really easy to do with even just one italian teenager...).
Most of the kids I hung out with didn't know I was american so when we were introduced everyone hasa thousand of questions to ask me! They also all loved trying to speak the little english they knew with me and heartily rejoiced upon success! It was very fun, but I, of course wanted to speak italian, and I made I deal with Simona (a girl I hung out with for a good portion of the evening) that she would speak only english with me, and I would only speak italian with her!
I am so proud of myself because the whole night I spoke italian with pride anf joy! I was actually socializing without fretting over not being able to communicate! It felt kind of like a test as to if I could actually use my italian where speaking was the main event of the whole night, and I passed with the flying colors of joy!
You are also probably wondering about the alchohol aspect of this being my first time in a pub where I could legally order alchohol...
I had coffee (Which, in italy signifies a tiny little gulp of coffe with lots of sugar!). But, for all of you out there who were hoping I was daring and drank a big glass of rum, I will admit that I tried some of a frineds beer, and another's mojito.
And of course, what is a night in Italy without eating something! So we also all shared an order of hot, melty fried buffalo mozzarella.
It was a delightful night overall, but one aspect of it that I haven't mentioned isthat I was a teenager. For most of my time here, I have been very mature, and studious as I spend more time with adults and friends older than me outside of school, but for this I got to relax and just be normal. It's not that I have been holding my breath this whole time, being careful to not let a toes out of line, and always being ridiculously polite, it's just that I hadn't been socomfortable with others my age yet in a setting where I could laugh and be noisy and teenagerish...
You may ask me "Well why haven't you been social?! You have friends at school, right?" and I will reply that it is true, but at school everything is so much more formal with the teachers and with the strange schedule and format of everything, there isn't much time to just chat, unless it is about Petrarca, or come trovare la equazione della retta che passante per punto (1, -3), and as much as I love math and old, dead, vain, italian poets, I prefere the James Joyce Pub.
So there you go! Tata! Ciao ciao!
Sunday, March 8, 2009
Everything literally was JUST PASTA.
The menus were little flip books and every page was a huge picture of one type of pastas. The picture was labeled with arrows pointing to everything in that type. The book had different sections, the first was alcohol (pasta made with vodka in the sauce, etc.), classic (spaghetti with fresh tomatoes and basil), with vegetables or Legumes, Specialties, Meat, Fruit, and Dessert.
There were well over 100 different types of pasta to order.
There were pastas with edible little flowers, with strawberries... you name it!
I ended up ordering linguini alla puttinesca which was with olives and capers, in a magically flavor infused tomatoe sauce. I was in HEAVEN.
There were 9 of us total. Me, Elisa (my italian turtor who is a college student at a university in Torino, but lives on a farm in a tiny little town with a library that is only one room, and is run by volunteers), Simona (the sister of Elisa who goes to my school, we have talked on facebook before, but this is the first time we've met), Lorenza (friend of Simona who is actually an identical triplet), Sabrina (best friend of Elisa), and four other friends of Elisa.
They all knew a lot of english, but the whole evening we spoke in italian,only occasionally needing english to understand one another (I like to think that I spoke my italian with pride and grace, but maybe I was just happy I could communicate).
One suprising thing about northern italians is that they have extremely low tolerance for spicy foods. IT wasn't until after Elisa tried my pasta and admitted that her tongue was on fire perchè era troppo piccantè (because it was too spicy) that I even relized that it was spicy at all!
Because I live in exotic Arizona so near to Mexico, northern italians marvel at my love for spice.
Turns out that my linguini alla puttinesca was a roman and therefor southern italian recipe.
Everyone ordered one pasta each, but we shared everything, so I also tried some of Simona's tiny little ravioli with vegetables inside (but really tasted more like creamy salty elegance all wrapped up and drizzled in hot olive oil), and someone elses pasta that is hard to explain. I have never seen the type of pasta, or that type of sauce before in my life. The noodles were tiny little disc/ frisbe shaped things with a rich--but not heavy--white cheese sauce (nothing like alfredo sauce which doesn't exist in Italy). It was thick and delicious, and I loved it all!
Beverage-wise there pitcher/vase-like things of water to pour in these artistic, classy little goblet/cup things, but also me and three other girls split a bottle of white wine (I've found that my taste for white wine has grown being in Itlay where the hills surrounding Fossano are coveres in grapevines).
Then for Dessert--please try to contain your burning curiosity and excitement--we all split one big dish of hot penne pasta covered in nutella and walnuts. And yes it was very much like pure love on a plate.
So there you go.
Another meal happily devoured!
Monday, March 2, 2009
It can't be!!! I thought I just arrived a couple days ago!!! Time is going lightspeed on me!!! Maybe tomorrow I will be on a plane heading back to the U.S. already, and I haven't even gone to a disco yet!!! My life is flashing before my eyes and pretty soon we will all be dead!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I can't stand mile markers.
One month... that means I am one 5th of the way through this life changing experience, and I only have 4 5ths left! (I had to show off my math skills somewhere...) Why didn't I choose the year long program? I now realize that even if you are worried about getting homesick, the year long is the way to go.
Oh well! I'm over it. I am in Italy right now, and I am not going to waste all of my time moping about how little time I have left in Italy.
The big news for this post is that I WENT TO TORINO YESTERDAY!!!
I went with Doriana my host aunt and Silvia, my host cousin who is my age! (Doriana has another daughter who is on a foreign exchange trip in Germany right now, her name is Claudia)(and aren't Silvia and Claudia astoundingly classy names??!!).
We basically just walked around and saw all of the big piazza's and the castle, and the palace, and the river Po! IT was wonderful! It was rainy all day, so my toes got soggy, but I would say that all of the beauty that got soaked into my memory was worth some soaked up socks! I got many beautiful pictures, but when we went into the Palace (Palazzo Madame) I wasn't allowed to take any pictures! :( We took a tour, and I couldn't understand the tourguide, but It was magnificent! There were tons of rooms and a banquet hall, and a dancing hall (camera di ballo) and every room was so incredibly ornate and gorgeous that I turned into my 6 year old self and all I wanted to do was play dress up and run around from room to room with Opera music blasting from the cherub covered ceilings untill I collapse on the luscious rose patterned carpets and fall asleep to Andrea Boccelli.
It was like I was transported into the past and everything was waiting for me, but I couldn't fully step into that reality because the tour guide would just yell at me if I stepped off of the designated tourist rug...
Oh well... Did you know that Torino was the first capital of Italy when it first united? In fact, Italy has only been the Italian Republic and one united country since 1861 (yes, the same year as the beginning of the civil war), so technically the U.S. is an older country... Anyways, From 1861 to 1865 Torino was the capital of Italy, then I believe that it switched to Florence (Firenze) and then to Rome...
That was your history lesson for today!
I will try to post some pictures of Turin and my friends at school soon...
Ok! That all folks! Ciao ciao!
Friday, February 27, 2009
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
If you are eating pasta you always use a fork unless the pasta is small like shells, then it is manditory that you use a big spoon.
We made pizza for dinner tonight. 3 pizzas for 4 people, do the math. ;D We also made pasta from scratch on Sunday and my forearm muscles were soar the next day! It was a lot of fun anyways! I was a pro at getting the dry crummbly dough rolled out into nice little pancakes to put through thepasta squeezer machine thingy!
The nightwe ate the pasta Maria and Dario (Simo's parents) came over for dinner and we ate well! That night we also pulled out this special alchohol stuff. I forget what it was called, but it was a really strong liquer of this fruit that only exists in one small part of Sardinia (or was it Sicily...) and it was intense! I just had one sip and the flavor lasted for ten minutes!(or not... that may have been a hyperbole...) Basically,I like being able to drink.
Oh! How could I forget! You are all probably wondering If I am a chain smoker by now, aren't you? The answer is no. The very first thing that hit me when I stepped out of the airport in Rome was the intense scent of cigarettes. It is very strange also when school finishes and I step out of the school to walk home and I see some of my friends in my class sitting around and smoking on the school steps. It's weird, but it's just how it is.
Now you are all probably wondering WHERE ARE THE PHOTO'S!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!?????????????????I have more than just the one at the top of this post, but I have many more on my facebook, so I will give you the link to view them all, ok?
P.S. And to my lovely readers who post comments, I want you to know that I read them and I appreciate them, but I can't always respond to them... (it asks for a login for something that I don't have and is very confusing =( so please don't think I am ignoring you or don't care!)
Monday, February 16, 2009
Sidewalks are kind of built into the buildings so they are like little tunnels with arches and pillars and they are called Portici (pronounced porteechee). I found out that they only exist in Piemonte, not anywhere else in Italy or the world! Go Piemonte!
Now, let me commence with wonderous tales of Italian food:
The snack (spuntino) between 4-5 is called miranda (or at least that is how it sounds, it is probably spelled way wrong!) and one may eat a pudding, or a cookie/toast thing with nutella, or gelato!
Did I mention before that I live directly next to una Fabrica Di Balocco? (a Balocco factory) For those of you poor souls who don't know what Balocco is then go to the nearest grocery store and educate yourself by buying the first package of cookies or panetonni with the big red letters on it saying BALOCCO. Some days if we're lucky you can smell freshly baked cookies in the air when you step out the front door! If you are unlucky, you may smell burnt cookies...
Do you want to hear what a day of eating looks like over here? Of course you do!
Colazione/Breakfast: cup of hot milk with some coffee in it, some delightful little buttery cookies for dipping in the nilk, and a cookie/toast thing with nutella on it.
Pranzo/Lunch: Fizzy white wine which is not Champagne but better (I find my taste for white wine is growing, but of course I still love red wine), ravioli with a cream sauce with sage leaves in it (you eat around the leaves...), olives soaked in some wonderful mixture of flavors, then when I finish the pasta, I whip out the bread and soak up all of the left over sauce and oil on my plate. Then we may have some cooked carrots with such a sweek flavor you'd think they were caramels!
Then out comes the cheese- There may e 5 different types of cheese on a plate and then a tupperware with some fresh mozzarella balls that are not from a cow, but a goat (Davide only eats this cheese or cream cheese or sometimes Fontina). We cut off hunks of cheese to eat either with bread or we drizzle some honey on it and eat it that way.
After the cheese isfruit. We put a huge basket of fruit on the table and pick out which one we want. It you go for an apple you have to peel it like a potatoe before you eat it because the skin is thinker and kind of gross. If you go for an orange, do not be suprized to find that it is indeed red on the inside. I prefer to go for a Kiwi which in italian is kiwi.
Lastly we pull out the left over apricot cake that Erika (my host aunt) made. But whait I forgot, the last step after we clean up is the coffee. Me, Eros and Simo enjoy a hot (and tiny!) espressos with sugar!
I want to go on to explain dinner, but It would take too long and I have to go, but I will continue at a later date.
Love, gratitude, happiness -Michelle
Sunday, February 8, 2009
There is so much to say. I have been here for a week, and it has been the most exciting week of my life!
Basically, I love it all.
I love the food.
I love the language.
I love my host family.
I love Fossano.
I love my class.
I love the sidewalks.
I love the coffee.
I love the other intercultura kids in my local chapter.
I love the Alps that you can see any direction you look.
I love the castle in Fossano.
I love Via Roma (a street)
I love the snow.
I love the victory of communication.
I love speaking full sentences in italian with correct grammar!
I love the bread.
I love the pasta.
I love the cheese.
I love the fake mexican food my host family and I tried to piece together.
I love the snack between 4 and 5 O'clock that has it's own name.
I love my friends.
I love setting the table and clearing the table for dinner.
I love my house.
I love the little socks with sticky things on the bottom that we wear in the house.
I love Cuneo.
I love my routine.
I love walking home after school.
I love the neighbors dog.
I love teaching my friends weird english phrases.
I love the cobblestones of the main street here.
I love the tiny little shops.
I love olive oil that the neighbors make and give to us.
I love my life in Italy!
There you go! Now you may ask what I don't love?
Trying to understand Italian history when the teacher is speaking a billion words a minute and making indecipherable scribbles on the chalkboard that I am supposed to copy. Yes. These scribbles are even worse than those of Mr. Paul and Eli combined. Luckily my schoolmates all speak english fairly well so they help me.
Other than that everything is peachy!
I am actually enjoying my german class that is taught in italian. And it is so much fun in english class when this petite italian woman is speaking english with a perfect little brittish accent and teaching the class how to say absolutely superb! School is fun. My class is on the top floor of this huge building and is only 15 students:
Me, Elena, Elena, Elena (yes, there are three of them), Serena, Serena, Edoardo,Alessandro, Alessandra, Laura, Lucia, Louisa, Sophia, Costanza, and Marlenys.
I am in the 3 class (there are 5 years of high school in Italy) and I am in the Linguistico school, quindi (therefore) my classes are as follows: Art history, Chemistry, Latin, Italian literature, PE, History, Philosophy, Physics, Religion, Math, German, French, Italian, English (my favorite class), and I have an italian tutor after school 3-4 days a week.
School starts at 7.55 and ends at 13.25 and I do have to go on Saturdays. Each class is one hour long, but sometimes we have 2 periods of something back to back. We have 5 minutes between each class for our teachers to switch classrooms (the students stay in the same room for all classes and the teachers switch), and then we have one 10 minute break for a snack.. Then I walk home to have lunch with my family.
I am picking up a lot of italian alreaday and my host mom said that in just a couple days of school I know many new words! (Go Me!) Tomorrow I meet with my italian tutor to figure out when we will meet each week, and I can start working italian seriously.
I have a little pocket dictionary which is now my security blancket (I don't go anywhere without it) but soon I will have to get a bigger one.
Yesterday I went to Alba (circa 35 minuti in macchina—about 35 minutes in the car) for a welcomeing party for me and the other girl from the US in another nearby place. Me and Liliana are the only two newly arrivals for the semester program in our local chapter, but there are five others that are on the year long program. There is a boy from China that goes to my school in Fossano, a boy from Germany, and a boy from Brazil. Then There are two girls, one from Belgium, and I can't remember where Catalina is from....
Anyways, it was a lot of fun getting to talk to them! None of then knew any italian when they got to Italy, and now they are practically fluent (at least they seemed fluent to me). The boy from Brazil (sono molto smemorata, quindi non ricordo lui nome—I am very forgettful, therefore I don't remember his name) said that he was so lost when he arrived (he also literally got lost in the paris airport, but that is another story) and that I am very lucky that my friends speak english. I spoke as much italian as I could with him, and when I didn't understand we spoke english, but he said that I also know a lot of italian for being here only a week..
I get to see all of the intercultura/AFS kids in my local chapter again soon when we meet up in Torino for the Orange Festival. Simo was telling we a little about this carnival and she mentioned that some orange throwing occurs. Yikes! Oh well. It will be a new experience and that is a good thing nomatter how sticky I get.
Everything is new, and a little confusing, and overwhelming, and my mom was right. I need to work on beeing less shy, but I am having a blast! It is another world over here, and I am doing my best to enjoy every minute of it and to record every minute of it because we all know how forgetfull I am.
There are thosands of little quirky things that seem odd (like the utter importance of using rulers in school) and I can't write everything on this blog so forgive me, but I will try to keep you all updated because I know you are all checking this blog every hour to see how I am... RIGHT? Heheh...
Amore e Baci (look it up ;D)
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Ok, I am sorry, but I just have to rant about the drama of applying for a visa. (Sorry, but this epic drama has a ton of those false endings...)
Monday the 19th:
I haven't gotten my documents from Italy yet, If AFS USA gets them by Tuesday they can overnight them to me and I will recieve them sometime on wednesday.
I am 8 hours away from the Italian conculate so there is no way we can get our papers and drive there before they close in the afternoon.
They are closed on thursday. That means that we couldn't apply till friday. Then they are closed till Monday. Then they would have had two days to process my visa and mail it back to me!
Not going to happen..
Tuesday the 20th:
Mom wakes up with a brilliant plan!
We have AFS USA overnight the documents to my grandmothers house only 30 minutes from the consulate (without LA traffic...). Our appointment is for 12:00 on Wednesday.
We drop everything and drive to LA . Say hi to Gram. Go to bed.
Wednesday the 21st:
Wake up at Grams house. Wait some more... The documents arrive!!!
Gana and Grandpa come over. Say hi, then bye, and head for the consulate!
We arrive over an hour early and wait even more...
The woman calls us up to the counter and we start feeding her all of our documents through the little window.
WE ARE MISSING TWO DOCUMENTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Missing document #1 is a letter from the bank stating that I have sufficient funds in my bank account (a bank statement isn't enough... I guess I didn't read the fine print)
Missing document #2 is a notarized affidavit of something-or-other that my mom needs to sign.
THEN... we only have one hour to get these papers back to the consulate before they close for the day.
Thank god there was a WellsFargo only ten blocks down. We show up at the bank and a banker is typing up the letter we need at a pace a sloth would laugh at.
The banker needs to know the address for the consulate, including the zipcode, but of course we have already given all of our paperwork to the consulate and have no idea what the zipcode is!
Apparently they have separate zipcodes from ten blocks down. Eventually we get the banker to just look it up online and she prints it out, signs it and hands it to us.
Then we need a notary to stamp this other form, but the notary at WellsFargo won't be in till Thursday. (Right about here I am considering going on a rampage and destroying all of Southern California.) We only have about 20 minutes before the consulate closes...
The banker assures us that we need a WellsFargo notary to do it.
My mom says forget that and walks into the bank nextdoor that is not a WellsFargo and praise Allah! There is a man here sent from heaven that says he will notarize it for us!
15 minutes to go.
My mom signs the thing, he stamps the thing and even gives us an extra official thing, just in case the stamp isn't enough!
10 minutes to go.
We get back in the car, and speed back to the consulate, run all the way up to the consulates office.
We had 6 minutes to spare! The woman took the damn documents, and says that she has already sent off the other paperwork, and they will be able to overnight my visa to me tomorrow.
Victory has never tasted so sweet.
We get back in the car (which by the way is the smallest, most uncomfortable little two door thing that always locks you in!) and get back on the freeway to drive home when we see Dinah's!
I grew up in the LA harbor, so I had been in the area before and been to Dinah's before. Let me tell you. If you think you have had good pancakes before, YOU ARE WRONG! Dinah's makes their pancakes with heaven and glory mixed into the batter. I swear by these pancakes.
After this morning I said to myself "We deserve victory pancakes." and Victory has never tasted so sweet.
P.S. (Theres more, but I am putting it after a P.S. thing, because that last line made a good ending... )
After we were halfway back to Flagstaff, AZ we get a call from this woman Dharma that has been helping us with the whole visa thing who works for AFS.
I was about to start crying when my mom answered the phone and asked me if the woman at the consulate stamped and gave back my school document, and I said: No.
Please imagine my and my poor mothers blood pressure at this moment.
Dharma goes on to explain that we will recieve this stamped school form when they mail us the visa... then I remember that oxygen is important when trying to stay alive.
Just writing about all of this my blood pressure has probably gone up again...Oh! and I am donating blood tomorrow! Maybe they can ell me what my blood pressure is...
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Monday, January 12, 2009
Tuesday, January 6, 2009