Audrey, Outbound to Italy

Today is November 17 which means that I have been in Italy for a little over two months. I never actually believed the other exchange students when they said that time flies on exchange because ten months seems like a fairly long time but they really weren't lying! It has ALREADY been over two months?! In my time here I have traveled to Southern Italy, Switzerland, Monte Carlo (and France in general two times), and the Alps. I have made so many incredible friends, both Italian and international, and so far my exchange has been nothing but amazing!

Compared to my school in Florida, school here is extremely different. They have five years of high school and every year they are with the same kids and have the same subjects and the same teachers. I am taking eleven classes but everyday has its own schedule. We go to school from 8 to 1 and we are in the same classroom the whole time but we can walk around during the ten minute break that happens between every two hours of class. At first I was worried about being in a class with the same kids everyday because then I wouldn't be able to meet everyone but I am so happy with the class I got put in because my classmates are some of my best friends now. Also, my English teacher sometimes takes me with her to her other classes so I can help with English and meet other students.

I am so lucky to have been placed in Torino. It is a city of about 900.000 people so it's not a huge city but it is not exactly little either. I live in the city center and there is just so much to do here! After school I can go shopping with my friends or we can go to one of the many cafes for lunch. There is also an extensive list of museums in the city that I 100% plan on visiting! My host family has a mountain house in this little town in the Alps so we usually go up there on the weekends.

To anyone reading this who is planning to go on exchange I strongly encourage you to STUDY YOUR LANGUAGE. Study at school, study on the bus, or at the beach, or the mall. STUDY IN YOUR SLEEP. Because when you get here, all you have to go on is your overall knowledge of what you've studied. Yes you can use Google translate or the Internet to help you but it is tedious and not very fun when you have to stop the conversation every 20 seconds to Google up a word or phrase. When I first arrived I told my host family to only speak to me in Italian. It was so difficult and a majority of the time I had absolutely no idea what they were trying to say to me but I am so happy that I did that because it has helped my Italian so much. Right now, I am doing decently well when it comes to the language. I am able to understand almost everything and can have full conversations! One thing I will say about learning a language on exchange is that it is so exhausting! My brain is working double time trying to constantly figure out what the heck is going on!

Luckily, I haven't really struggled with homesickness. It is less of a feeling of missing home and more of missing the little things. For example, I miss my cat and my favorite sushi restaurant. I miss American snacks and going to my school's football games. I miss driving!!! But then when I think about all the things I miss and feel myself getting sad I just think about how I am literally living in Italy right now and can eat gelato everyday and then I'm fine!

Something that has surprised me in my time here is the feeling of normalcy. When talking about exchanges, everyone tends to talk about the incredible trips they went on or the fun things they did with their class and sometimes it seems like going on exchange means that every single day is one big adventure but it's not. It's just life. You wake up and you go to school. After school you do your homework or take a nap or watch TV with your family. Then, you eat dinner and you go to bed. That's it! That's your day. There 's no big trip or fun activity and it is just a regular day. For me, that is probably what I find to be so extraordinary about exchange. It's that right now I am living in Italy having regular ordinary days!

I couldn't be happier with my decision to go on exchange and I can't wait to see what the next eight months bring!

Click HERE to read more about Audrey and all her blogs