September 3 Journal
August 26th was the day I left the United States to begin my "adventure." It was so emotional to say goodbye to my family, but I was happy to leave and start a new life (even if for just one year). The 27th around 11:30 pm I arrived in Sardegna (the island I live in now). I was welcomed by my new family: my host mom and my host dad who were accompanied by my "tutor." I also have a 20 year old host brother who could not come to the airport because he was in another Island called La Maddalena.
My new family welcomed me with open arms and I felt at home right away, though there are some awkward moments that may have occurred a few times :P... other than that all is well. My host dad and I always go walking around town and visit many places, he also tells me the history of it all. Everything is so beautiful and different! :)
The next day my new family and I went to La Maddalena, which is a beautiful island. There I finally met my host brother, who is really nice and helpful, and I also met nonno and nonna (grandfather/mother), aunts, uncles, and some cousins of the family. It was amazing because everyone was so nice and understanding. Even though I did not understand most of the things they were saying, and they didn't understand some of what I was saying (because I was speaking crazy Italian mixed with French and English), we all still managed to find a way to communicate.
My family owns a boat in which we all sailed in every day that we spent in La Maddalena (3 days), then we swam in the sea everyday as well. The beaches and the water in L.M. are so beautiful that words can't even describe it. The water is vey blue and clear, and guess what! NO SHARKS! :D (very different from Florida)
Now I am back in Sassari (the city I live in) and I love my room and my house and everything. I have only been here for 7 days and I don't want to go back home after my year is over. I start school the 15th or the 17th (know one here know for sure :P) and I am so excited, I have never recalled being this excited to go to school. One of the reasons is because I am going to an art school where I will be able to draw, paint, work with ceramics, design clothes and much much more! I really am looking forward to my art improving. I also can't wait to meet new people! Well, ciao ciao!! I am done for today because there is so much to do here, you can never really be bored :)
P.S.: I think my Italian improved 1% =D
October 3 Journal
I have been here for a month and a week now and I must say things are getting better and better everyday. I love my family and everyday we learn something new about each other. They compliment me sometimes on how much my Italian has improved. I am glad that I am getting better and hopefully soon I will be fluent. I have made many friends whom I love so much and who are always helping me with my Italian. I go out almost every night with them, and I say almost because I play tennis now with a group of girls and a coach. I love it so much because I haven't really played tennis since I left Haiti and moved to Florida. It's nice to have the opportunity to play again and I am thankful for it.
School.... school is great so far! Right now the main project for the year for my "Tessuto" class (designing clothes and stuff) is to make the front of a pillow with amazing and different designs etc... It isn't as easy as it sounds =P There is a lot of thinking and searching and sewing and creating involved. I also made a head out of clay in one of my classes and I think it looks pretty cool now that I am almost done with it... I have also been working on many different other things and they're all fun.
I went to an Italian wedding which was so much fun! They did the typical rice throwing thing but they also threw plates on the ground in front of the groom and bride (I thought they only broke plates in Greece, I guess that's my mistake =P.) There was also lots of food, it was a buffet =D. There was also music and dancing and since there was a pool at the reception location, at the end some people jumped in! Some also got pushed in ahaha.
Now a little something about food, a very important topic =P. The food is great, and I am a very picky eater and surprised myself and my entire family back home with all the new things I have been trying and actually liking. First of all I love the pasta, no doubt about it, and my host mom is a great cook! I have tried so many different seafood like clams, oysters, octopus! Also others that I don't remember the names... Here there are giant sandwiches that are bigger that your face! literally! The pizza here is delicious, so different than American pizza. It is also a bit too different for me to choose which one I like more: American or Italian? Oh and definitely don't order a pepperoni pizza here, because pepperoni in Italian = big peppers, not the same thing as the American pepperoni =P... unless you like only peppers on you pizza :)
Now I am having a great time! I am not saying that everything has been going PERFECT because I have made a few mistakes but they are minor and unimportant. I still have not been homesick yet and everything is going well.
Well I have so much more to say, but if I wrote it all, this would become a book! Ciao Ciao and see you next month :D
November 13 Journal
I have been here for over 2 months now, and I am still loving it. There is more freedom here, and I just enjoy every minute of this. November 10th was my birthday so I had my "sweet 16" in Italy =) It wasn't a big event but I had a few of my close friends come over and we all had a good time.
My Italian I must say is coming along well, my host family, my friends, and my teachers always compliment me on how quick I am learning the language. My host family tells me I don't have an English accent or a French accent, that I say the words more correctly; of course I have an accent, but it’s not as strong. I felt proud of myself. I still have to keep pushing though because I would like to be fluent by next month hopefully. I actually think in Italian now a lot, I think it's pretty cool!
School is going well, there have been many protests the past few days because it’s too cold and the school has not turned on the heaters, so we keep getting out early, which I like =)
I also did a "Giro Pizza" with some friends which is where you pay 10 euros each and get unlimited pizza, but you can't go to the next round until you finish with the 1st round! When you can't eat anymore you say stop and they give you the last pizza, pizza with Nutella, which is so good! We did 2 rounds then stopped, it was fun =P
Well, there has not been anything very new to talk about - every day is pretty much the same, yet every day is different, if you know what I mean. This is a great place, it's a great environment, the people are amazing, it's like my new home, I'm comfortable here and I LOVE IT!
December 26 Journal
December! Decorations are put up, lights all over the streets, giant Christmas trees, and strange small Santas on ladders climbing up your window? My city is pretty small and it is not as much decorated as in Florida but you can still feel the Christmas spirit. It is also colder here. While I am wearing a bunch of sweaters, my host sister in north Florida, Lilia Montella, is wearing shorts and going to the beach :D! The weather is no problem though, it’s cool!
Usually right before Christmas break they have a thing called the “Matricole” which is a group of university kids who have a “king” and whatever the king says to do they have to do. They go around the city dressed up strangely and “liberate” the students. So for the 3 last days of the school week (Thursday, Friday and Saturday) we get out of school very early. It is sort of like a festival and has remained more of a Sassari tradition so it is not done all over Sardinia and it is not done all over Italy. I guess it depends of the university. So after you get released you go walk around he city, go to cafés, meet up with friends from other schools etc... too bad we don't have that in the US.
Christmas Eve! I am spending my Christmas and New Year in La Maddalena. On the 24th we had a big dinner with many members of the family, and let me tell you, Italians eat a lot! The dinner was great and the family members are funny and it was fun! At almost midnight we opened some of the presents and on Christmas day, we opened the rest. I received so many amazing gifts and I gave gifts to everyone which they all liked. (I hope :P) On the 25th we had a Christmas lunch, it was great, and again a lot of food! Later that night we all got together in the living room and watched a movie!
Christmas is such an amazing time where everyone gets together, it’s beautiful! I know that Lilia and I didn’t get a chance to spend it with our family but we both had a great Christmas! New Year is coming and an Italian festival called “Epifania” where a witch called “La Befana” gives kids candy in a big sock! But all this will be described in next months journal ;)
CIAO!!! Buon Natale a tutti! Merry Christmas to all and a happy New Year!
January 27 Journal
Hey! I have been here for 5 months now! Ok I’ll go back in time a little bit…
New Years! 2010, new beginning! I went to the concert of Laura Pausini who is a very famous Italian singer and is also know in Latin America and other European countries! The concert was great, the community paid for it; therefore for the public it was free! There were so many people! Beautiful fireworks, and champagne flying everywhere, it was great! Of course since New Years is a holiday we obviously ate a lot. We ate so much food until the 6th of January which is the feast of Epiphany. After that day we stop having big feast lunches and dinners because it’s the last celebration after a row of holidays: Christmas, New Years and Epiphany!
So during the “Epifania” there is a witch! She is la Befana. She gives candy to children in a big sock the eve of Epiphany (January 5th.) She is a little bit like Santa, in a way… she is an ugly witch, I mean if I was a kid I would be scared if I knew she would be coming to my house! But Italians told me to just think of her as a nice ugly old lady =D! My host parents said we were too old to celebrate it, so I went to a store, bought my sock and filled it with candy of my choice! It was good =D
Now we can come back to the present! This weekend I am going to Nuoro. Another city in Sardinia where I will meet other exchange students and see Michael Pett, whom I have not seen since our last orientation!
A little on Sardinia: It is nothing like Rome or Milan. But that’s the thing I like about it, the fact that it’s an island and not like the huge cities. Sardinians are known for their kindness. There are so many things that are great about the big city life, but an island where we have a little bit less then places like Naples etc, are amazing too! I just see all the good things here because there are so many! I appreciate every little thing and every little act that people do and I ended up loving this place and the people. I’m just happy I got a chance to be in Sardinia for a year. I am really glad of the location I got and I can't thank Rotary enough. Literally, and I am not just saying this, I would not have wanted any other place.
February 15 Journal
The weekend in Nuoro was great! I found out that we are 16 exchange students in Sardinia. 10 were able to come! Most of us are American. There was also 1 Canadian, 1 German and 1 South African! We visited a museum, a giant cave (Grotta Ispinigoli) and an old village (Villagio Serra Orrios)! It was amazing! But the best part was meeting all the other students and talking about our exchange. We are trying to plan more weekends like that and hopefully next time everyone will be there =D
So February is Carnival season. There are festivals, we walk around dressed up with all kinds of costumes and have fun! It’s really nice to celebrate Carnival again because in Haiti I celebrated it every year but in the US they don’t really have that. It was great! We dressed up at school and had a small party with food and music =D When we go out there are little kids dressed up everywhere and confetti’s all over the floor and all! And the best part is that it’s not over yet, we still have Carnival Tuesday: “Martedi Grasso” or in French “Mardi Gras!”
Oh and a few days ago it snowed!! It was great and everyone told me I was lucky because it hadn’t snowed in Sassari in 6 years! Apparently it’s a rare event! Too bad it didn’t last that long. It started in afternoon and kept going over night and the next morning everything was white! It snowed again and 2 hours later the sun came out and everything slowly melted! But everyone took advantage of it, we made small snowmen, and had Snowball fights! :)
So far everything is great, it is very sad to know that my exchange is halfway over. I have been enjoying every minute here and I will remember it forever! I can’t thank Rotary enough! You have no idea how thankful and happy I am! GRAZIE MILLE!! :D
April 11 Journal
Here in Italy, we don't have the bunny who hides the eggs and we have to find them. Instead, there are these huge eggs made of chocolate that you have to break, and inside there is a surprise! For our Easter dinner we ate so much! We were all together: grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, pretty much almost everyone. There was 2 different kinds of pasta, ravioli and pasta with goat meat. For dessert there was all these pastries and since it was also the birthdays of my host aunt and host uncle there were 4 cakes... I was so full that day!
The day after Easter, we all went to a restaurant, were everything that is served has been raised and harvested in Sardinia, it was all so delicious, and again, we ate a lot. There was pork, goat, potatoes, livers (which was not bad), there was this thing that I didn't really like because it was a bunch of layers of cheese and I am not the biggest fan of cheese. There was dessert and of course wine and coffee...
Being together with the whole family was fun, I will never forget this year.
May 25 Journal
I can’t believe I only have 2 months left =( I gave my Rotary PowerPoint presentation about a week ago and it just made me think about the end. But it’s not something I want to think too much about right now, I just want to enjoy my last moments =)
Two days ago I went to an annual event here in Sassari called “la Cavalcata.” The event consists of a parade of all folk groups from the entire island of Sardinia, each with the characteristic costume of the city. There were also the Mamuthones which are typical carnival masks in the city of Mamoiada in Sardinia. They are distinguished by their clothes and their way of moving. They are always silent. Then the parade is followed by a display of horses and riders who race while doing acrobatics. It was so interesting to see the different outfits that they wore back then, the wedding outfits, the widow’s outfits, and the old jewelry. They also walked around with pastries and fruits; they were dancing, and playing instruments. Every year the Cavalcata starts with a guest country that brings their original clothes and shows their culture. This year was Greece! It was all so amazing!
I am still having a great time and loving my year! I’m glad the heat is coming back because it means everyone can start going to the beach, and the beaches here in Sardinia are some of the most beautiful!
I love it here! =D
June 16 Journal
I have one month left! It’s so strange to think that this will all be over soon. I have been going out everyday with friends trying to spend as much time as I can with them before leaving! I’m really sad that I must go…
On the bright side it’s summer! It is finally getting hot! No more coats and big jackets. We are all going to the beach and everything is so beautiful! A few weeks ago we had a Rotary get-together in Santa Lucia, in the middle of Sardinia and it was nice to see every exchange student again.
I will miss everyone here. I have made amazing friends and my host family has been great! Leaving will be hard and it will be the only time my “emotional roller-coaster” will go down, because it has always been going up for me. But that’s ok because as soon as I see my family and friends back home again it should go back up! :)
I don’t know how many times I can say this but THANK YOU Rotary!! Viva La Sardegna!!! =D