Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Sunday, January 25, 2009

All Is Well.

I have my visa.
I have all of my host family gifts.
I'm ready to go!

Now I just have to finish my online history course, clean my bedroom, finish Christmas thank you's, finish packing, get some rain boots, and learn italian in three more days...

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Good luck at last! almost...

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.

Guess what?

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

Carina! (How Cute!)

I went to the bank (banco) today (oggi)!

Did you know that 500 euro is equal to approx. 691 US dollars?
And they are all different colors and sized depending on how much they are worth!
The smallest (literally!) Euro bill you can get is a five (one euro is in the form of a coin). 

5 (cinque) Euro: The smallest, Grey (grigo)
10 (dieci) Euro: Slightly bigger, Red (rosso)
20 (venti) Euro: Slightly bigger than a 10, Blue (blu)
50 (cinquanta) Euro: Slightly bigger than a 20, Orange (arancione)

Plus they are (ci sono) squattier than dollar bills! So I say: Carina! 

Come eccitante!!! (How Exciting! ... I think)

Monday, January 12, 2009

Orientation #1, Visa, School...

It is January the 12th, which means that I am only 16 days from New York and only 18 DAYS FROM ITALY!!!  

I went to my pre-departure orientation last Saturday in Scottsdale. It was only me and my parents plus Sydney (she's going to Brazil!) and her mom with the two volunteers. At one point A girl from Brazil came and chilled with us for a couple hours. It was really fun talking with other AFS students, but the orientation itself wasn't too exciting. We spent seven hours going over what we could have done in one hour. It was exceedingly tedious.

My favorite part of the orientation was probably talking to Sydney and John (one of the volunteers who went on an AFS trip to America from Australia when he was in high school and eventually moved back to the USA) about what will be weird and different. Sydney said that her school in Brazil has a hideous uniform, and I hadn't even thought that my school might have one! She can only wear baby blue sweatpants, sweat-shorts, T-shirts and sweatshirts. All that same baby blue! yikes!  I might have a uniform, but then again, maybe not. Who knows!

I made an appointment to go to the Italian Consulate in LA (8-9 hours away!) on Friday at 11:15 even though I haven't received my support documents from AFS yet. I really hope that they come in time so that I don't have to reschedule and possible not fly to Rome with my group! I don't know how all of the orientation business in NYC and Rome would work if I missed my flight. 

I have decided that tomorrow will be my last day of school even though I don't leave for another 16 days. I have an online history course that I have to finish by giunio (June) and really want to get it over with before I get to Italy. But more importantly, I have to learn Italian! I think I will have plenty to occupy my time with when I am not pacing with anxiety about my papers coming from Italy.

Now, This is the plan:

Get papers from AFS Italy by thursday

Friday the 16th: apply for visa

Saturday the 17th: farewell party

Tuesday the 27th: drive down to Pheonix

Wednesday the 28th: Fly to New York City for the 2nd orientation

Thursday the 29th: get on plane to Paris and then to Rome

Friday the 30th: ARRIVE IN ROME! Spend four days there for orientation #3


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

More info on my family!

Ok, well...
I received the official packet in the mail with information about my host family. All I can say is that now, I am a thousand times more excited! 

They are the Morra family, Eros is the Dad, Simona is the mom, Davide and Agnese (a girl!!! I was wrong) are the kids. Agnese is three and loves to swim. They live in a house with a garden near the local high school and they said I can borrow a bike to ride to school!

 They also have a flat at the beach in Pietra Ligure and they go there for the weekends when ever they can. I got pictures of them at the beach and it looks so beautiful!!! Of course I didn't leave it at that, I had to go to google earth and looked up Pietra Ligure, it is the perfect little beach town with the bluest water you have ever seen! 

I was reading their daily schedule and got very nervous because it said that they wake up at 7:30 everyday, but I am NOT a morning person. I wish I was. My dream, my life's goal is to be able to wake up in the mornings without an alarm clock, but the way I am now, the only way I can say I accomplished my dream is if you count 12:00 pm as the "morning".

It also said that they eat coffee or milk with bread and jam for breakfast which I often have for breakfast at home and love!!! 

 I think one of the coolest things about Fossano that I read was that the library is in a castle built in the early thirteen hundreds!!! How awesome is that! My library in Flagstaff, Arizona is in a little brown boxy thing... I mean think about it, a Castle??? More specifically THAT castle shown above!

 Basically is all sounds too good to be true!