Courtney Ager
2012-13 Outbound to Italy
Hometown: Orlando, FL
School: Winter Park High School
Sponsor: District 6970, FL
Host: District 2050, Italy
Valle Sabbia Centenario Rotary Club

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September 29 2012

Stepping off that airplane onto Italian soil was the first day of the greatest experience in my life. I can still remember the smell of my second host family, the warm and welcoming embraces I received. The breakfast they bought me, and all of the questions they had: "How was your flight? Stanca? Tutto bene?". I remember the cool air as I stepped out of the airport, and how vastly different it was from the hot, dense, humid air of Florida. I remember arriving to the Faustini's house and having lunch; how delicious and extremely filling it was. I honestly miss that first day here. Everything was so new and exciting and different. Everything was disorienting and strange and NEW! I still marvel at the beauty of everything here. How gorgeous the lake is, no matter how strange the weather. Just being at the lake is one of my favorite things here, because it's so calm, and beautiful.

My next favorite thing here are my friends. I was so lucky that there is an exchange student in the Central Florida area this year from Salo'. His name is Andrea Faustini, and before I left we were able to hang out. He talked to his friends, and told them about me. When I arrived here, they welcomed me, and talked with me and invited me places. I now hang out with a good variety of people and I just love that people here are so welcoming and friendly. Most of the time we go to bars and drink coffees and tea. A few times we have been to someone's house to play pool and drink more soda's and tea's. We walk around the lake, and eat gelato and go window shopping, just like any other normal group of teenagers. They all ask me for help with English, and they help me with my Italian. My friends like tennis, and football, and hanging out, and playing video games, and talking and motorbikes. Italian teenagers are just like American teenagers; they just dress nicer , and speak Italian (;

I attend school at the Liceo Enrico Fermi, and I take the Linguistics course. My class is 5 D. 5 is the highest level of classes in Italian schools. Unfortunately, because I'm in the Linguistico, my classmates take classes such as English, Italian, Latin, French, and German. Fortunately for me, instead of taking Latin, French, and German I get to switch to another english class somewhere else in the school. I like this because it allows me to socially interact and meet many people. My other classes are very difficult. It's hard to understand Philosophy and Physics and Biology when they are being taught in Italian. So I get to doodle most of the time, which is allowing to me explore my artistic side!

I have gotten to travel a little since I've been here. The second day after I arrived, my host parents flew me out to Sardinia and I spent a week there. It was absolutely gorgeous and I thoroughly enjoyed it. After a week in Sardinia, we went to the Trentino area and spent the weekend. I think that Trentino is my favorite area so far. Everything was so crisp and clean and the buildings and architecture was so different. 


December 8, 2012

Writing a blog post is probably one of the hardest things that I have to do on exchange. So much happens in such a short period of time that it seems IMPOSSIBLE to sum up a month or two in a few paragraphs. But I'm definitely going to try! 

My host family understands (and shares) my love for traveling. I have been so blessed to be placed in a family who has traveled and taken me around to different cities in Italy, and shown me the historical and artsy places. 

So far, I've been to:
Sardegna
Folgaria
Rome
Milan
Cinque Terre
Brescia
Cremona

And next week, I believe I am going to Venice with another exchange student and his family. Traveling, BY FAR, is my favorite thing to do. I feel that I need to see as much as I can of this historical place before my year is over.

I have seen my FIRST snow since being here, and was it amazing. One weekend my host family, another exchange student, and I went to Folgaria. When we got there, snow was on the ground. I was so excited I could hardly contain myself! My friend is from Wisconsin, so she did't understand my excitement. But it was fantastic! I got to have my first snowball fight, first snowman, first snow angel. It was amazing! And it even snowed last night! Seeing snow fall for the first time too was exciting. A friend and I went walking around the Lake and it started snowing. He laughed at me for my excitement, but it was amazing and beautiful!

I have been so lucky to find a good group of friends here. They are the sweetest and nicest and coolest people I have met. Everyone has been so welcoming, and understanding when my Italian skills aren't very good. But, every day I'm improving.


Ciao for now, A dopo <3
Courtney


March 6, 2013

How I envy all of you Future Outbounds. I wish I could relive those days. Counting down the days until you leave, anxiously awaiting news of your host family, city, school, etc. Daydreaming about "what your life this time next year" will be like. I can honestly say that I miss that period. Because it means I would get to have a longer time until the end of this year. Longer time until I have to make that plane ride home. Sure, I have 4 more months until I have to leave... but that is no time at all to an exchange student.

Italy has had such a cold and long winter. It's still supposed to snow next week, and I am missing my lovely Florida weather right now. Apparently this "isn't even that cold" but to a Floridian, it's freezing. Spending holidays away from your family, spending important days so far away from home can be extremely heartbreaking. But as soon as you overcome those heartbreaking days, it makes you a stronger person.

It's true, what they say about your exchange becoming easier after the holidays. But I'd say that my depression hit shortly after I got to Italy... I had no friends, my host family was never home, and I was extremely lonely. I was a person who was used to having people around, and doing things. Not someone who sat in their room all day. And depression hit hard at first. But now, I go out all the time, and I have plenty of friends. Depression and sadness still hits me even now, though. I really hate that there are two other exchange students in my school, because everyone loves them. They speak fluently, and are attractive guys from exotic places, and so all the students like them. It's hard to see people react differently between me and the others, but I have my friends and so all is okay.

Traveling is by far my favorite thing to do here. I've been to Olbia, Sardinia (2nd day!)
Folgaria
Rome
Milan
Brescia
Desenzano
Monterosso, Cinque Terre
Verona
Cremona
Sirmione
Gardone Riviera
Venice

and at the end of the month, I will be going to Florence. I love that I have seen so much of this gorgeous country, and that I still get to keep on traveling because I would love to see as much as I can before I leave.