James McAuley

Italy

Hometown: Tallahassee, Florida
School: Leon High School
Sponsor District : District 6940
Sponsor Club: Tallahassee (Capital), Florida
Host District: 2031
Host Club: The Rotary Club of Pinerolo

 

My Bio


My name is James McAuley. I am 16 years old. I live in Tallahassee, in a bungalow house. I am a sophomore at Leon High School and will be abroad over my Junior year. I love to be outdoors. I love outdoor sports like soccer, road biking, mountain biking, and running. I like watching movies. My favorite genre of movie is comedy, but I sometimes watch sci-fi, action, and independent movies. My favorite thing to eat would definitely be tiramisu. I love traveling and seeing new places.

Going to live abroad is always something I have longed for so I can't wait to go to Italy, because I have never been anywhere like it in my life. I am very excited to go to Italy because it is truly unknown for me. I don't know anybody from Italy, nor have I spoken to anyone who has lived there. I am excited to learn about an entirely new and unknown language and culture. I also hope to drastically broaden my worldview on my exchange. I think its becoming very important for us to adapt to an international perspective in order to have fulfilling relationships with others who live abroad. All in all, my main goal throughout this journey will be to make new connections, learn a new culture, learn a new language, and learn about the world we live in.

 

On top of the mountain and the world

On top of the mountain and the world

Death Marker of Homer (Omero in Italian)

Death Marker of Homer (Omero in Italian)

Journal: James - Italy 2015-2016

  • James, outbound to Italy

    Here we are, 4 months in. Much has changed, much has remained the same. I have switched host families. My first host family lives across the street from my current one. In this family I still have two siblings. I have one sister, who is 15, and one brother, who is 9 and 5/6ths. I have never had a younger sibling before and I am relishing being so all-knowing and important in his eyes. Of late, I have had the great pleasure to work through the dreaded long division with him. We are due to study the verb “to have” for English tonight. I find these interactions legitimately rewarding.

    After my first post the weather turned a trifle dull. It became rather cold in the mornings and remained cloudy for what felt like 3 months. There sadly hasn't been any precipitation for quite a long time in northern Italy so at the moment we are lacking snow and there is a small air pollution problem in the city centers of Torino and Milan. I am still holding out with the hope that come January we will be graced with a few inches of snow. In such a case I believe a ski trip would be in order. A boy can but dream.

    Thanksgiving and Christmas have both gone by with manageable levels of homesickness. I feel I have been very lucky so far in regard to my host families, who have treated me extremely kindly. My current host father loves to bike, and for Christmas he bought me a used mountain bike so that I could go on rides with him. We just recently went on our first ride with the new bike to the top of the small mountain on which we live. The weather was really beautiful that day, and has been much more often since. I am so relieved to see the sky once more.

    On the top of the mountain there were some ruins of a small catholic church. I went inside and gazed at the classically curved roof and at what seemed to be a deeply faded Jesus, painted directly onto the arched cement of the ceiling. I asked my host father how old the ruins where, he nonchalantly responded “They're from around 1200 A.D...”. I was absolutely stunned. On this mountain on which I had been living for a whole 4 months, and on which mere minutes before I had been cursing for being too steep for any human being to bike up, resided church ruins that were over 800 years old and I had no idea! Nobody had thought that piece of important enough to mention at any point in 4 months. Even my host father considered it more of an afterthought out of all the attractions of the peak of the mountain.

    This, I suppose, is one of the most stunning things about Europe that I find the most difficult to really grasp. It's age. So much human history has passed by the same places that I so take for granted. For example, in a short visit to the mountain ski town of “Sestriere” my first host family was recounting how the 2006 Winter Olympics were for the most part held there. Right after that we passed by an out of the way stone marker. We stopped for a moment to read it, and I was shocked to find that the marker was a death-marker of the place where Homer died. Homer. The Homer. As in, The Odyssey and The Illiad Homer. I find it absolutely unbelievable how much history there is in Europe, especially in Italy.

    Italian is going very well, I am making progress slowly but surely. There are good days and there are bad days. It's interesting how much real fluctuation I experience day to day in competence. I suppose patience is key in learning, don't expect to ever see gigantic leaps in fluency, that's simply not a trait of learning in general, especially not of learning languages. Patience is not the same thing as indifference to the learning process, however. I have found that I learn most from focusing on individual words and phrases and then making a conscious effort to reuse those same words and phrases.

    Still to come is the second half of this year, I really hope it doesn't fly by as did the first half, barely giving me time to process it.

    Nevertheless,

    Until next time,
    Happy new year.
    Best of luck, and better of life.

    To see my homepage and some photos click HERE


  • James, outbound to Italy

    To begin to attempt to describe this journey in and of itself is a daunting task. I fear that my inevitably inadequate description of these events equates to no less than an injustice. Nevertheless, an attempt must be made.

    The trip overseas - no pun intended - flew by. Before I had realized what I was actually doing, I was stepping off an airplane onto Italian soil, and into the car of my new host family. I was greeted at the airport by my host father, Ulisse, and one of my host brothers, Claudio. We spent the 15 minute drive to their house making small talk in a rather obscure blend of English and Italian. Having managed to discuss their city, sports, Florida, and the quality of my flight, we finally arrived at their house.

    The home portrayed a striking blend of modernism and classical architecture, putting a classical Italian twist on the modern suburban home. Having entered the house I then met the rest of the family, including my other host brother, Luca, and my host mother, Daniella. They were extremely welcoming and in the process of organizing plates of food for my host father's birthday party. I then met many of my host families friends and relatives, who came to the birthday party .

    The next day, there was yet another party, this time a pool party at the next door neighbor's house. My host brothers and I played a game of soccer versus all of the children at the party (there were 6-8 of them), needless to say, the 3v8 Thermopylae-esque match was hard fought but inevitably lost. At this party I met the neighbors, and a vast number of other people, all of whom were very welcoming and eager to speak with me.

    Now the days have begun to blend together, beginning to ferment into the fine wine of the "exchange experience", I suppose. We ran errands one day, played more soccer on another. Last night (9/10/2015) my family and I went to a dinner party with all the other exchange students and their families near the main city of Torino, There were four Americans, including myself, one Colombian boy, and one Taiwanese girl. The party was lots of fun and we got to celebrate the birthday of the Taiwanese girl, Rich, who turned 18.

    In this first week, a lot has happened. My main takeaways have more or less been these:
    1. Study your language. I feel am having a much better time because I studied Italian. My host families main worry was that my Italian would be bad, I think I won them over just by having studied Italian before I came.
    2. Try to maintain "la bella figura", or, "the beautiful appearance". It is an unavoidable fact that you will be making a million first impressions on exchange, especially early on. Being able to look nice, smile, be courteous, and be attentive will take you far when you go to three parties and meet 100+ people in the first week of your exchange.
    3. Give complements and be gracious. While this doesn't mean you must be obsequious to every person you meet, it certainly does entail being consistently kind. No matter who you are with or what you are doing try to give complements, it may seem simple or even unnecessary, but Rotary is a purely volunteer-based organization, and your friends in your host country or your host parents or the friends of your friends or the friends of your host parents or… or… or… they all deserve complements and gratuity. Something which is admittedly obvious, but undeniably vital.

    I hope to make my entries a trifle more narrative in the future, I am just having trouble processing everything at the moment. I don't really know how best to finish this entry, but I suppose a quote will have to suffice.

    "The limits of my language mean the limits of my world." - Ludwig Wittgenstein

    This applies more to exchange than to life itself.

    Until next time,

    Ciao!

    -James

    To see my home page click HERE

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