Libri, libri, libri!

Non avevo mai visto così tanti libri in un unico luogo in tutta la mia vita..fino a ieri al “salone del libro” a Torino. Ho partecipato nella gita scolastica con la mia classe. La gita ha iniziato sabato mattina alla 8, quando siamo partiti la scuola. C’erano un totale di circa 30 studenti (la mia classe e un’altra) e alcuni insegnanti. Dopo un lungo viaggio di 2,5 ore siamo arrivati a Torino. Eravamo fortunati perché il tempo non faceva male. Pensavo che pioverebbe o farebbe troppo freddo e nebbioso, ma per fortuna fosse abbastanza bello. A Torino abbiamo dovuto aspettare per 30 minuti prima di entrare perché c’era un lunghissima coda. Tuttavia siamo entrati e poi abbiamo diviso negli gruppi per vedere tutti i libri. Ho camminato intorno con alcuni di mie campagne di classe. Nelle “salone,” c’erano 3 grande camere, ognuno pieni di piccoli negozzi dei libri. Abbiamo mangiato i nostri pranzi in un caffè, ma non c’era spazio agli tavoli quindi ci siamo seduti sulla terra. Siamo stati lì per circa 5 ore prima di partire, e poi ci siamo saliti sul pulman per la viaggio in dietro ad Omegna. È stata una bella giornata, e mi sento fortunata che potessi andare. A dopo!

I had never seen so many books in one place in my entire life.until Saturday at the “Book Fair” in Turin. I took part in a school trip with my class. The trip began Saturday morning at 8 when we left the school. There were a total of about 30 students (my class and another) and some teachers. After a long 2.5 hour journey we arrived in Turin. We were lucky as the weather was not too bad. I thought it would rain, or would be too cold and foggy, but fortunately it was pretty nice. In Turin we had to wait for 30 minutes before entering because there was a long line. However we entered and then we split into groups to see all the books. I walked around with some of my class campaigns. In the “salone,” there were three large rooms, each filled with small shops of books. We ate our lunch in a cafe, but there was no room at the tables so we sat on the ground. We were there for about five hours before leaving, and then we got on the bus for the trip back to Omegna. It was a beautiful day, and I feel lucky that I could go. See you later!

2 more months left

It is May 15, meaning I have a little less than 2 months left here in Italy. That’s so strange to think about. I feel like these last few months have just whizzed by! I’m excited but also a little melancholy for that day I step onto the plane to Sicily. I can only imagine now, but I feel like it will be a very emotional day when I leave my home here in Pettenasco, leave my Italian family, friends, and get on a plane to Rome for the last orientation. Then to get on another plane to Sicily and see my American parents. And then the final plane back to Arizona a week later to see my home, my sisters, friends, and my life back in the USA. It will be strange…very strange.

For now, however, I am going to enjoy these last couple months and salvage my time here. This week has been pretty normal. Monday I went to school, had my Italian lesson, then I missed the train back home because it was too EARLY (very very strange because trains here are usually really late!!). Luckily Giuseppe (AFS volunteer) was in the area and could pick me up. Friday night my host family took me to a harp and flute concert at a church in Omegna. It was absolutely beautiful! The harp looked just like mine at home!! Yesterday Tiantian came for the night. We ate dinner at “Roadhouse” (a steakhouse in Arona) and both Tiantian and I ordered B&Q ribs :) This morning Alda came over and we all ate lunch outside because there’s finally some sun today!

Tomorrow I’m going on a class trip to Turin, then from Tuesday until next Tuesday I will be in Corsica (the French island above Sardinia)! So I will try to write my next post tomorrow night after my trip to Turin. Till then!

A Weekend in Portofino and Genova

Hello!! Sorry it’s been so long since I last posted, this past week was totally packed and I couldn’t find the time to write. Last week was a normal week at school, waking up early, sitting in class, painting, sculpturing, studying italian. Then came Saturday, the best day EVER! After lunch, my Italian parents drove me to Portofino, a small town right next to the sea on the left side of Italy. It was one of the most beautiful towns I had ever seen in Italy! It looked very similar to Cinque Terre because it’s in the same region, so all of the houses were really colorful, tall, and narrow. And just as you guessed, there is a “port” in Portofino where fishing boats and taxi boats were parked. All of the buildings had lights on them (for the festival of San Giorgio) which made the night even more magical. We ate dinner at a cute restaurant called “Delfino” and had an amazing view of the port and sea from the window we sat next to. We all ordered octopus for an appetizer. It was delicious because it had lemon sauce covered all over it, but we all agreed that we prefer the octopus my host mom makes better. Then we ordered our main courses and I ordered spaghetti mixed with sea food. After eating we drank coffee, and then the waiter showed us his collection of pictures hanging in the restaurant. They were pictures of one of the staff members with celebrities who have eaten there. I even recognized Beyonce and Jennifer Lopez! So now I can say that I’ve been to the same restaurant as them!! We walked around town after that, saw the church with the lights of San Giorgio, and then got back in the car. We drove for about 30 minutes until we arrived at a hotel in Genova (A bigger city next to the sea)! I got my own hotel room which was super fun!

The next morning we woke up early, ate breakfast, and then took a bus from the hotel to the center of Genova to meet the other exchange students. There were a total of 62 of us – all of the exchange students in the North West regions of Italy. We visited the aquarium because it’s one of the “must sees” of Genova. It was absolutely beautiful! The aquarium was huge, and it was really nice inside. We were able to see all kinds of sea animals including penguins, dolphins, and seals. A couple students and I finished the tour early, so we walked around the center of Genova for a while and ordered “le focacce” (type of bread) that is famous there. When the other students finally finished their tour of the aquarium an hour later, we all took a walk in the center and visited the local church. After lunch we parted ways, and my host family drove me and two other exchange students home – Lucia from Cina and Pitch from Thailand. It was a really fun weekend and I hope I’ll get a chance to see all of the other exchange students again before we leave Italy in July. Only two months left before I leave this Italian life. For now though, I’ll try to make the best of these last couple months :)

Here is my new video on the month of April! <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=espCiBGAa30&gt;

Parma, Sabbioneta, Mantua, and Modena

This was the week I went on a school trip to Parma, Sabbioneta, Mantua, and Modena! Wednesday morning I woke up at 6am and left the house at 6:30. My host mom and I drove to Armeno (a town close to Pettenasco) where we met the other students going on the trip. There were a total of 28 of us, and all of the other students were 13 years old in middle school. I was so thankful that Isabelle (an exchange student from Colorado) came as well. We started the journey by taking a 3 hour bus ride to Fontanellato, where we took a tour of a beautiful castle. We then ate our packed lunches, and got back on the bus headed to Parma. In Parma we saw an antique church and an old baptistery. My favorite part of Parma was the old theater, Teatro Farnese. The whole theater was made of wood, and it reminded me of an old Roman theater with its semicircular form and its grand, slanted platform for the stage. Standing on the stage was mind-blowing; I would have loved to perform there if it was still being used. We ate dinner at the hotel in Parma, and finally got to sleep after the long day of traveling. I shared a room with Isabelle and my host mom.

The next morning we woke up at 8, ate a breakfast of yogurt and lemon cake, and left the hotel at 8:30. After a half hour bus ride of trying to sleep and ignore the constant chattering of little children, we arrived at Sanguinaro. There we had a tour of a salami factory! This was my least favorite part of the whole trip because of the horrible smell!! Luckily we were given sheer clothing that covered our bodies and shoes, as well as hairnets and doctor masks for the smell, but even those didn’t mask the unpleasant scent of raw meat. I wanted to hold my breath the whole time, but the tour lasted 2 hours so I was forced to inhale. To top off the dreadful experience, we were forced to eat the salami for lunch! I remember feeling so happy after the tour when we were all walking out of room with salamis hanging from the ceiling. But then right when we opened the door to exit we were hit with a not-so-pleasant surprise. There we saw two long tables with 28 plates of different types of salami waiting for us to eat them. I swear I almost fainted!!! What was even worse is that it was only 10:30 in the morning for this lunch and the room still stank of raw salami and dead animals. Luckily there were two pieces of bread on each plate, so I had something to eat. Walking outside was a huge relief, and everyone was so thankful to get out of there and board the bus.

Our next stop was Sabbioneta, where we visited another old theater like the one in Parma. This theater, Teatro all’antica, was the first free-standing, purpose-built theater in the modern world. It is the second-oldest surviving indoor theaters in the world and is, along with the Teatro Farnese in Parma, one of only three Renaissance theaters still in existence. Just like the theater in Parma, this theater was constructed almost entirely of wood. And above the semicircle wooden area for the audience, there were columns with figure statues on the top. It was a beautiful, jaw-dropping sight to see. We were also able to visit the gothic Palazzo Ducale and a Jewish synagogue. We even saw the beautiful Palazzo Giardino (garden) of Sabbioneta. It was really gorgeous to see the garden from above when standing on the balcony of the palace because I could see all of the designs formed from the bushes. Then we got back on the bus and headed back to the hotel to relax. After dinner we all took a little walk in the dark and bonded. When I say “bonded” I mean that the 13 year olds asked me and Isabelle tons of questions about the USA. These children are SO ENERGETIC! Even at night after a long day of walking and sight-seeing they have so much energy! The whole walk was exhausting, every 10 seconds one of the kids would ask a question, make fun of us, try to hug us, try to steal our phones and play games, or try to make us say a bad word in Italian. I can definitely say that on this trip I learned more bad words in Italian than good words!!

Friday morning we woke up way too early. We left the hotel at 8am and headed for Mantua. First we visited the beautiful church of Sant’Andrea. It was absolutely breathtaking! Every little space on the walls was decorated with some type of design, making the church look very intricate and decorated. We stopped at a cute restaurant for lunch and all ordered the typical food of Mantua – “Tortelli di Zucca” (pumpkin tortelli) and “Risotta Alla Pilota.” (rice to the pilot). The pumpkin dish was ravioli with pumpkin mixture inside. I didn’t particularly enjoy it because it was way too sweet – it tasted like dessert! The rice was better, but it was way too dry and grainy for me. Luckily we found a gelato shop after lunch to fill us up. I ordered a cone with coffee and coconut flavored ice cream. I thought it was delicious!! But Isabelle thought that combination was weird…what do you think? After lunch we walked to the Palazzo Te and had a tour of the inside. It was absolutely incredible! All of the walls inside had beautiful paintings covering them. It was utterly gorgeous. We ate a lasagna dinner back at the hotel, and then went for another night walk. That night I felt famous because all of the kids were following me, asking questions, laughing at my American accent, and commenting on my blondish hair. I can honestly say I had never felt so popular in all my life. And to be even more honest, it was fun but VERY exhausting!!!

Saturday was the last day of the trip. We woke up early, packed our bags, and left the hotel at 8:15. After a short bus ride, we arrived at a parmesan cheese factory! The factory consisted of three parts. The first part was seeing the cows! All of their cows were female in order to have milk for the cheese making. We were fortunate to see baby calfs too, they were so tiny and so cute, I really wanted to take one home as a pet! After observing the cows, we took a tour of the cheese making factory. Just like the salami factory, we had to wear sheer costumes to cover up the smell. Luckily it wasn’t as stinky as the salami, but it was still unpleasant to inhale. It was interesting to see the process of how cheese is made. Apparently one can only eat the cheese one year after it’s made or else it won’t be “ripe” enough. The last thing we did was taste the cheese! We were given 3 types of parmesan cheese – one that was 12 months old, one that was 17 years old, and one that was 30 years old. The older ones have a stronger yellow color to them and have a stronger taste. I personally preferred the 12 month old one because it wasn’t as strong, but maybe that’s because I’m not much of a cheese lover.

At 11:00 we parted for Modena and arrived 2 hours later. We had free time for lunch, so Isabelle and I and some other students went and got pizza. Then we had some time to walk around the center of Modena, drink coffee at a small caffè, and listen to the street musicians play music. Then we all gathered together and looked at the Piazza e della Chiesa Romanica (cathedral) of Modena. This was my favorite church because it was so grand and elegant. There were beautiful stained glass windows and arched columns lining the wooden pews. The church consisted of two stories, and we were able to stand on both. To me, it was the biggest, most magnificent church I had ever seen. We ended our trip there, got back on the bus, and took a 3 hour ride back to Armeno where everyone said their goodbyes. Overall I would say it was a fun, educational trip. I’m very pleased that I was able to partake in it.

 

Racing to the Mall

Hello again! So I decided to make this blog before I leave for the school trip because I need to share with all of you the exciting day I had yesterday! Yesterday my host family took me to a car museum near Milan. I’d never seen so many cars in my life! There were really old cars from many years ago, old race cars, and some modern cars. There was even a movie room where you could sit and watch a car race where you’re a driver as well. The seats would move up and down and air would blow in your face. It reminded me of those rides at Disneyland! After the museum we visited the nearby centro commerciale (mall). Apparently it is named the biggest mall in Europe! I would say it’s about the size of Fashion Square Mall in Phoenix. It has two stories, and it was sooooo crowded!! We visited the stores Mango, H&M, and Zara, and then ate dinner at a cute little restaurant for dinner. I don’t remember the name of the restaurant, but it also sold a bunch of bottles of wine, and it had amazing food!! I ordered a type of pasta with eggplant and tomato sauce that is well-known in Sicily, and it was davvero delicious!! Davvero means “really” in english. I just wanted to show everyone how I think now. I speak english and italian, but I think in “engalian” (english and italian). Here is an example: It’s strano come I think adesso, in italian ma anche in english. Qualche times parlo like this anche and le gente sono weirded out! :)

Here are some photos of the car museum! https://plus.google.com/collection/MW4mgB

Watercolor, Harp, and Nutella Tiramisu!

Good morning America and good evening Italy! This week has been long, but rewarding. I feel like every day here is a new adventure, there is always something new I encounter. In school I’ve been working on a watercolor painting! I haven’t painted for such a long time, and it’s really fun to start up again. I find it relaxing and enjoyable. After school I like to go home, sit at the table looking out at the lake, pop in my earbuds and listen to Taylor Swift, and paint. I’ve also been busy playing the harp! My host parents were so generous as they rented a harp for me! It’s a little smaller than my harp at home, and it has levers instead of pedals. But it makes a beautiful sound, and I’m so happy when I play it.

On Wednesday I went to my crew lesson with Iris (next door neighbor). Every Wednesday we invite handicapped kids to play with us which I love. This week we played a game in the grass where we tried to hit each other with a foam ball!

Yesterday was a very long day for me. I went to school, then had an Italian lesson with my fellow American friend Isabelle. I was supposed to take the train back at 4:40, but I missed it because I didn’t speed walk fast enough! I got to the station at 4:42 and watched my train disappear. So I waited in the train station caffè for two hours and took the next train at 6:40. When I got home, I had ten minutes to freshen up, and then my host family and I met our neighbors at a pizzeria! They’re from Switzerland but they also have a house here in Italy. There were 11 of us total at dinner, and three nationalities – Italian, American, and Swiss. I had pasta with ragù (tomato/meat sauce) and then a really yummy nutella tiramisu for dessert. And I’m not kidding when I say it was the BEST tiramisu I’d ever tasted. When the waiter first put the plate in front of me, it looked like the tiramisu was inside a paper wrapper like a cupcake. But when I started eating, I realized that the wrapper was made of nutella!!! It made my day :)

As you all know, I went to Sicily last month for my “settimana di scambio” (week of exchange). During that week, we made double interviews and filmed them. We had no time to prepare beforehand so it was basically improvised… but we did our best! I did mine with Vania! Here is the link!  <http://www.sicilianews.tv/2016/04/22/intercultura-bolivia-vs-usa-vania-e-sienna-a-confronto-intervista-doppia/>  P.S. Please ignore my horrible American accent thanks :D

Next week I will be going on a trip to the cities Mantua and Parma with Isabelle and my host mom’s school. That being said, my next post will probably be next weekend. Ciao ciao!

A Day in Milan

Ciao! So Saturday was super fun because Tiantian came to visit! She was an exchange student from China 2 years ago and now she’s going to college here in Milan. Saturday was also fun because it was my friend Beatrice’s birthday party! The party was at a restaurant in Intra, and Tiantian came too which was fun! We ate pizza and pasta and had cake afterwords. There was even a live band that played music!

Sunday we went to Milan with Tiantian! On the drive down we stopped by Alda’s (my host mom’s sister) house to eat lunch. The Moroccan lady who cares for Alda made a special Moroccan couscous for us! Apparently it takes 2 hours to make, but it was so delicious!!! We took it home afterwords for leftovers. After lunch we got back on the road and drove to Milan. We first stopped to visit Tiantian’s apartment and we met some of her roommates. Than we rode the metro to the “downtown” part of Milan. I’m calling it “downtown” because it’s the modern part of Milan and because the buildings remind me of Downtown Phoenix in a way. It was SO beautiful with modern buildings surrounding a nice fountain that has paths you can walk on! I’d have to say that it was the most modern part of Italy I’d ever seen! I also finally got to see the Duomo, the Teatro alla Scala, the Galleria, the center “modern” part of Milan, and the flower festival that happens every spring! It was a pleasant day as well because it didn’t rain, and it wasn’t too cold outside :)

Differences: Italy vs. USA

I’ve been here for over 7 months now, and I’ve noticed many differences between Italy and the USA. Here are some of my biggest observations. Enjoy!

  1. Driving: Driving is crazy here! Italians drive so quickly here! They go way over the speed limit and the police don’t even stop them. Also, most of the roads here only have one lane for you and one lane for oncoming traffic. That means that if there is a slow car in front of you, you have to go into the oncoming traffic lane to pass them. Sometimes it’s really scary to watch because you can see oncoming traffic in the distance, but you pass anyway and for a second it feels like you’re going to have a collision with the oncoming car in front of you! Road crossing is different as well. The cars here don’t stop at every crosswalk, so if you want to cross, you just have to start walking and hope that the cars don’t run you over!
  2. Laundry: Italians don’t use dryers for their clothes…they just hang them outside and wait for them to dry. And if it rains (like it does a lot here)…well, that’s a problem. I always look at the weather report every day and make sure to have my outfits planned out a week in advance so I don’t accidentally end up without clothes because they are all trying to dry ;) I also noticed that Italians love to iron! In my first host family my host mom would iron EVERYTHING! I’m not even kidding. It was a three step process – wash, hang up to dry, iron. Like…I ain’t got no time for dat??!! (sorry, just felt like using a really southern accent there hahah)
  3. Food: This is an obvious one, but it’s super important! Italian stereotypes are true, they love their pizza and pasta! I’ve literally never eaten more pasta in my life before I came here. Risotto and cheese are very popular too, and I can’t forget about the wine! I should also mention the Italian coffee. It is delicious! It is a lot stronger than coffee in the USA and you use super tiny cups for drinking! Speaking of beverages, what’s up with Italians not using ice??! In the USA I put ice in all of my drinks!! Anyway, overall I would say that the food and the way of cooking is a lot more advanced in Italy than the USA. They have fresher dishes and they have more advanced machines for making them.
  4. Technology: The USA is definitely more advanced in technology than Italy. First of all, typing. This whole time I’ve been here, I haven’t seen one person who knows how to type properly. They just use two figures to type, and it takes forever! I’m very thankful my parents made me take an online typing lesson when I was younger, even though I hated it. Thanks mom and dad :) haha Also phones and computers are more advanced in the USA. Italians are just starting to learn how to use computers at school.
  5. Trash: This is a weird one, but it’s interesting! In the USA, people divide their trash into 2 groups – non-recycle and recycle. Italians however, have 5 groups – paper, glass, plastic, metal cans, and green. Each day there is a pick up for something. For example tomorrow is paper pick up. And they have a calendar in the kitchen that tells you what kind of trash to put outside for each day of the month. Italians are very economic!
  6. Time: In the USA, everyone moves at a rapid pace and uses each moment to accomplish something. People may not eat a full meal until the evening because there is only time for a coffee in the morning and a quick snack for lunch. This could not be further from the Italian perspective of time. In Italy, time is seen in a lighter sense in that people do not see a need to rush. Italians will casually walk down the street and converse with friends, have a cup of tea or simply appreciate their surroundings. And they will NEVER miss a meal!

So those were just a few of the differences I’ve noticed between Italy and the USA. I should also mention that school is very different too, so if you want to learn the differences you can visit my Italian school vs. American school post. Hope you learned something! :)

Sick AGAIN!!!???

Good morning my lovelies. Yesterday was one of many days to remember, I had so much fun and made new friends :) Some of the AFS students from Novara, Domodossola, and two students who are on their “settimana di scambio” (week exchange) all came to visit Lake Orta for a day trip. And I’m so glad they invited me because it was super fun to see everyone again and meet the students I hadn’t known beforehand. We started the day off by walking around the lake for maybe 2 hours. Then we stopped at an open grass area next to the water and had a picnic. It was a nice spring day, and it was the first day this spring that I didn’t have to wear my gigantic coat! We all shared our already-packed-lunches and took pictures with Cameron’s fancy camera. Then we continued our walk along the lake until we arrived at a small dock where a boat would arrive to take us to the island in the middle of the lake. We went to a small coffee shop while we waited for the boat, drank coffee, and played a rhyming game. One person would say a short sentence, and the next person would continue the story, having to rhyme the last word of the previous sentence. First we played it in english, and then tried in Italian…which kinda failed lol! When the boat finally arrived, we all gathered in and took a 5 minute ride. We were only on the island for about 15-20 minutes because it’s a really small island, but we saw a lot – a church, cobblestone streets, old houses. We took the boat back to the other side of the lake close to my town and toured around Orta a bit. By then I was extremely tired, but there was still one more activity to do – climb what seemed like a really tall mountain (but it was just a hill). What was even worse was that my feet were already sore from walking so far earlier, and the path up the hill was made of cobblestones, which didn’t help my feet at all!! We made the hike seem more fun by singing songs and playing music from our phones. Maybe it was the music that motivated us, but somehow we made it to the top of the “hill” and were rewarded with an amazing view of the lake. Then after catching our breath, taking off jackets, and drinking loads of water, we headed back down to the cars. We drove back to where we met each other that morning, and my host mom picked me up and drove me home. I had never felt so tired in my whole life! My feet hurt, my head hurt, throat hurt, and my whole body was sore. When I checked my temperature, it was 100.04 degrees fahrenheit (37.8 degrees celsius). I went straight to bed after dinner, and had a long, but shifting sleep.

This morning I woke up with a sore throat and a runny nose, but no temperature. I guess the temperature was just from my tiredness from yesterday. So on the bright side it’s just a cold, and hopefully it won’t last as long as it did in February when I had the flu!

A Day in Turin

This whole week my host family is also hosting a teacher from Corsica because she is on a one week school trip with her students. Corsica is a French island above Sardegna, so this teacher, Gracieuse, speaks French! Luckily she also speaks pretty good Italian, so my host family and I are able to speak with her. This whole week the French students get to interact with the Italian students at the school where my host mom teaches, and they tour around this area of Italy and learn about the culture. It’s basically an exchange trip like mine but for only one week! Yesterday the French and Italian students went to Turin for a day trip, so I went as well because I’m also interested in seeing these famous Italian cities. The trip was absolutely beautiful! After a two hour long bus ride of sleeping and listening to music, we finally arrived in Turin at our first stop, the film museum! We got an amazing tour guide who was really energetic and passionate about his job, so that made the experience even better! We learned about the various stages of how movies developed over time. We also were lucky to ride the elevator that rides to the top of the building that looks over the beautiful view of Turin. It was the best elevator ride I had ever taken. It was a clear glass elevator, and it started in a basement area, rode into a huge room with movie displays all around and like 60 comfy red reclining chairs at the bottom where people can lay and watch movies, and then the ride finished at the roof. The roof reminded me of a small Eiffel Tower because it was an outside view of the whole city, with bars all around the platform so you wouldn’t fall off. After this beautiful museum, all of the students ate their already packed lunches on the sidewalk. Then we all headed to the center of town, seeing the antique buildings, plazas, and old pastry shops along the way. At the center of town the teachers and I got the chance to eat lunch at a café while the students went shopping. I ate lasagna! Then we all took a stroll around the city and got back on the bus to go home. The trip was a success, and to top it all off, the weather was wonderful! It didn’t rain, and it wasn’t too cold outside.

Here is my latest video on Youtube! <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HTpC2yrr0Ho&gt;