Hi everyone! Sorry if I made some of you nervous...I have just been very busy. In the past month a lot of things have happened, not leaving me a lot of chances to relax, let alone write here! All right so in a nutshell: School, school, school. Then I found out (even though my parents and I didn't think I would be able to go because most spots are for the annual students, not the semester ones) that I would get to go on an exchange trip. They told me that I would be going to Varese, a city near the border of Italy, between Milan and Switzerland. But in order to go, I had to find an American fable ( much harder than it looks, we steal most of our fairytales from other countries) and translate it into Italian, find 2 reciepes (American, of course) and translate them into Italian, then make a presentation about an American artist. Oh, and pack, book my tickets for my flights, and fill out forms. I found all of this out 9 days before I was scheduled to leave.... But things were ok...I'll give you a quick recap of each day I was in Varese (Jessi, don't read this...most of it is in your letter I am mailing you...) Oh, and by the way, I chose "Three Billy Goats Gruff" (not American, actually it's Norweigian, but I really needed a story I knew already), Pancakes and Rice Crispy Treats, and Andy Warhol.
Wednesday, March 25th: I had already booked a flight online (I'm just now finding out how quickly things move when you have a credit card=)) packed my luggage, and said goodbye to Claudia.I had to take the bus from the train station in Vico to the airport in Napoli (Naples) at 6:50 in the morning. Got to the airport, read "New Moon" (in English, thanks Mom and Dad) and drank coffee for 3 hours until my flight left. An hour and a half later I landedin Milan and was picked up by Riccardo, an Interculturà (European AFS) Varese volunteer. He took me back to his house where I met the other foriegn exchange studnets who were going to be with me during the week. Veit (pronounced "Fight") from Germany and Perin from Turkey were annual students (by the way, Veit's a guy, and Perin's a girl.) There was also Allie from Canada and Maria from Argentina (they were both semester students.) Those guys all lived outside of the Varese area, like me, in other places in Italy. Allie: Livoro, Maria: actually don't remember, sorry..., Veit: Cosenza, and Perin: Sicily. There were also two annual students who lived in Varse, Tina from Norway, and Chris from Hong Kong. Perin was telling me stories about the famous Sicilian mafia. She said that they go into stores and say they are collecting money for the church (although they never actually give it to the church) and then they give you a reciept saying you paid. This happens monthly. If you don't give them money, they destroy your shop. She said sometimes you see cars burning. Normal occurences. I thought the mafia in Naples was bad. Apparently, there's a part of Naples that is famous for being very dangerous. It's called the "Spanish Quarters." When Marianna took me to Naples, we only walked 5 feet into the alleyway.....It was creepy. She just said that it's not safe to go into. Then of course, there was the man who was shot...but you all already heard that story!
Thrusday: Oh, I forgot to talk about my family in Vares. I had a mom, a sister, Rachele who is almost 17, and a brother, Pietro who is 11. They were all very nice and, even now when things are getting better, I enjoyed their company and way of living more than my family in Vico. We went to a cooking school where a boy took my recipe for Pancakes and cooked them. He let Allie and I cook some, but we burned them. The Rice Crispies turned out a littl weird because they didn't have Rice Crispies only Coco Puffs and the marshmallows were colored. Stephano, the boy who was helping us, left them in the freezer a little to long....so they turned out to be hard and brown.....not the regular Rice Crispy treats.
Friday: We went to Milan! We wen to the Museum of Science and Technology. It was interesting, but I wish I could have stayed there longer. And then the blind institute. We all walked around a room with black walls and no light. You couldn't see anything and they wanted to re-create how a blind person feels. I could barely keep up, because they spoke in rapid Italian, guiding us along the course. We went through crossing the street, climbing onto a boat and ordering at a bar recreations. I realized how much we rely on our eyes. And how much I didn't enjoy not haveing them. Thursday night we went to a Chinese restuarant. Chris, one of the Varese students, taught me how to say "Good Night" in Chinese ("Cho Tai") The Chinese food was pretty good.
Saturday: We got in pretty late the night before (1AM), so I spent Saturday morning sleeping. In the afternoon, we went to watch a water polo game. Rachele plays water polo (not this game) and she was really into it. It's not my sport, but it was nice. That night we all went to a bar called "Jamaica." Allie and I both had strawberry margaritas, which were pretty tasty.
Sunday: We went to Torino, where apparently the Olympics were held awhile back. Anyways, we went to the Museum of Films. It was mostly boring, but some parts were neat. It was all about how movies are made and older films. I'm more of a new age movie person. But it was better than staying home.
Monday: We went to a children's school, and the kids got really excited when I told them that my neighbor has a cow. They asked if we ate the cow or only used it for milk. You should have seen their faces....how could I tell them that we slaughter the cow every couple of years to eat as hamburgers?! I'm a coward; I couldn't. After we went around the parks with another Varse volunteer.
Tuesday: We went to an art school where I made a diasterous(sp?) presentation about Andy Warhol. They knew more about him than I did. I did meet a guy from Napa, CA. He moved to Italy 9 years ago with his family. Later we went to Switerland (Lugano)! We went to the Museum of Chocolate. It was wonderful, authentic Swiss chocolate!
Wednesday: I went home, and now I miss everyone=((
So, that was my Varese adventure. Other things have been happening at home:
1) I have some problems with my family. Things are slowy getting better, but somedays, like today, things happen and it slips right back to being a problem. We try and resolve things, but sometimes unexpected thigns happen.
2) My friend Ilze, the Latvian foreign exchange student, is being sent home. She cut her wrist a month ago, and theat's why they are sending her home. We are both pretty broken hearted about it. I'll miss her alot, but I think home is the best place for her right now. She needs some help and I don't think Italy is the right place to get it. Home is better.
That's really it.....of what I can think of....I'll post a new post in a little bit with pictures...
Oh, and the earthquake was northeast of Rome, nowhere near me...thanks for everyone's concern. It meant a lot=)) I don't know too much about it, but Italy is trying to put the town back together right now.
Miss you all! - Kaitlyn