I know, I know, I have been a very bad blogger. It has been a lifetime since I blogged, and literally everything has changed in some way. The Italian life is still beautiful, but it is truly mine now. I have really settled into my life here with school, family and friends.
Going in that order, we will begin with school. I am officially evaluated as every other Italian student, meaning that I cannot be one of those exchange students who can blow off homework and just go party instead. I have to complete all classwork, homework and tests (let's not forget that means in Italian) as every other kid in my class. I received my grade report from the intimidating principal today, but I am very proud of my results. My efforts in learning Italian as well as studying many subjects has paid off and I am getting results. I am also an official bilingual-dreamer! In fact, I had a dream about going home and seeing my family in America again, which was totally exciting except for the fact that I began telling them stories in Italian and they just sat there staring at me perplexed. I just couldn't get myself to speak English!! I have had a taste of that in real life though when I get to video chat my family in the States, but I forget words like "pot" or "organize". I know. My family is just as worried as you are when you read that. But because of my grip on Italian, I hope to start working on my Spanish with my host family (my host mom is Spanish and they are all fluent). I read that the 3rd language is even easier to learn than the second language!
Speaking of my host family, all is going fantastic! In the last few months, I have really become a true part of their family here. We have really gotten to know each other very well after living together as a family for four months. We know each others' humour, likes and dislikes, quirks, etc. I am so glad I got to do the 10 month program, because we have already bonded and I am so happy to keep it growing for the next six months and on for the rest of our lives. We have reflected together on how amazing it will be when I come back in 2, 5, 10, 20 or 30 years. Our closeness really helped me get through the holidays, which is a very important time with my family back in Colorado. I was really worried about passing the holidays without each other, but our big family celebrations here helped me take my mind off of it.
About the holidays. To start off my vacation, my Brazilian friend Isabela came to stay with me for three days. We went to a school party at the discoteca, then I showed her around Monaco and Nice on the weekend (with which I am getting quite aquainted). A few weeks before, we had also toured Sanremo together and I was able to appreciate my host community again. After the weekend came Christmas Eve and Christmas. Both were spent with aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents which was interesting and fun! The gifts were lovely (from my host family, and also the lovely packages I received from my family back home). I ate lamb, lasagna, spaghetti, fouet, pandoro and other international specialties. Pandoro was my favorite -- a light cake/bread that stands about a foot tall, covered in powdered sugar. The name means bread of gold. My new nickname is "pandorina". After these holidays, we went up to my family's mountain house in a tiny paesino called Bersezio. I enjoyed snowboarding lessons, nights drinking hot chocolate by the fire place and family board games in a snow-covered Winter Wonderland. Unfortunately, the fun was put on pause on January 31st when my host brother, Matteo, broke his arm skiing. New Years for all of us was spent in the hospital. My host parents remained in the hospital for 3 more days in Cuneo (the nearest medium-sized city, an hour away) while I stayed at the house with my host aunt, uncle and cousins. He broke both his radius and urna doing a jump and had to be operated on, but all is well and he has a nice, big ol' cast now. Snowboarding will resume in February for me!
Another exciting thing for the month of January are the saldi. This is like Black Friday shopping for 5 weeks in January/February. This is like Heaven. Yesterday was spent shopping for the greatest deals in Cannes and Nice (France), and boy did we find stuff. I plan to go again around the end of January when the sales will have gotten better so that I can buy myself a nice birthday gift. It's one of two times a year when one can afford a pair of real Italian shoes (the saldi take place in July as well).
In terms of friends, I am making them and having a lot of fun doing it. Going out of a giro or walk around town as well as grabbing an espresso or window shopping happens a lot. The people have opened up a lot to me in the last few months. I have been extending offers to friends and family to come visit me in Colorado, so I wouldn't be surprised if we have a regular flow of people in and out of our house for awhile! My host family is already planning a grand Colorado/California trip in August.
On the note of travel, spring travel plans are being formed! We are working on plans for Paris, Malaga and perhaps Tuscany, as well as weekend/day trips to Cinque Terre, Milan, St. Tropez, Marseilles, and other places in this Italy/France area. I will also have "exchange week", which is a week in the Spring where I can go live in another region of Italy with a different family for seven days. I am hoping to go to Sicily, Puglia or Calabria if possible! All the talk of exploring makes me giddy inside! Not to mention if my mom or brother comes out to visit me -- we will be hitting some great places! I am so lucky to be in the position to see all of these places.
I am sure I am forgetting lots of things that have happened in the last few months, but everything is going extremely well! This is a dream come true.
Feel free to ask me questions or contact me just to say hello, I love hearing from everyone!
|Rengim (Turkish) and I at camp in Torino|
|Old picture of the "Zona 0" group in Rome in September|
|Bersezio in the fall|
|San Romolo (little village above Sanremo) with the fam.|
|Cuneo, sweet Cuneo, my lovely Piemontese town!|
|Mushroom and truffel stand|
|Ice skating with Isabela|
|Game time in Cuneo with Isa and friends!|
|I was the best at Guitar Hero..|
|Oh Christmas tree..|
|Van ride to Bersezio with Tio Fran and Ale|
|Isa's tour of Sanremo|
|Selfies by the sea|
|Day in Monaco|
|Casino (from Casino Royale, 007)|
|Visiting Regina's office in Monaco!|
|Oh the cars of Montecarlo...|
|Limone, a popular ski town for the coastal population|
|Menton, France's Christmas in New York|
|Visiting Santuario della Costa della Madonna with Kelsey|
|Royal Palace of Monaco|
|Church where Grace Kelley got married to Prince Albert!|
|Museum of Oceanography|
|My favorite part of Montecarlo? The cars!|
|Beautiful sunset on the French Riviera|