Brooke, outbound to Italy

I switched houses on March 14. The whole thing happened all at once. For about a week my host mom said she had been talking to my next host mom. One day she asked if I was excited for something on a Saturday that was to do with my next family. I had heard nothing, and I assumed she said we were going to have lunch or something. The rest got lost in translation. It was a long day of drawing at school. I simply thought we were going to talk bout my lessons, or when I would possibly be moving. I can now see the irony there.

On Wednesday the 11th (my sister's birthday in America, happy birthday, Gentry!) my next host mom came in to my class to talk to me. During our conversation she asked if I was excited to move in with them on Saturday. What? She asked me if I got her what’s-app message. I hadn’t, thanks to the fact I didn’t have money on my phone for data.

Moving? I wasn’t mentally prepared to move in 4 days. I had to pack all my stuff! If you know me you know I like collecting things. I had stored all my belongings into the nooks and crannies of my room. Moving requires you to pack everything up. Which, in turn, you see all that you have. Everything that you own, and all the things you have collected on exchange.

It was weird having to do that the first time. If you have too much, you need to give some of it away, or throw it out. It’s like a small unshelling of your things, and what you have. No one tells exchange students of this weird phenomenon. It’s an event packing up your life. In a way, you have to mentally prepare yourself. I had four days to do everything required to move. Thankfully there was an assembly on the Friday before. I stayed home and used most of that day and night to pack.

The actual move went as smooth as can be. My second host dad pulled the car up to the front of the building; we loaded most of my stuff, and drove over to the new house. That night my new host family and I went to a 40th anniversary party for a friend. There was only time to unload my things, and go. On Sunday, I did all the unpacking and settling into the new house. I share a room with one of my host sisters. I’ve shared a room before, on trips and things like that, but never for an extended period of time. I do have my own space to keep all of my things.

Also there is one full bath for the whole family, but two bathrooms in total. We call them the red and orange bathroom. The orange has the shower, and the red is for the girls. Sharing both a room and bathrooms like this is a new experience for me. Even so, I think I’ve got the hang of it in the few days I’ve been with them. It’s like a dance, with all of us moving around each other to use one room or the other.

So after moving in with my new family, I moved back after two weeks. Don’t worry, nothing happened. My third family had a trip planed, and was unable to take me with them. I asked to stay with my second host family during the 10 days they would be gone. There’s something to be said about moving back with a family you love so much. I felt like I came home. I told my host mom I missed the smell of the house when we were making my bed. The second day there I went out into Ortigia to draw, and shop, as I had done so many times before. I wound up meeting friends, and staying out the whole afternoon. The weather had gotten considerably better, sunny and bright skies.

It was one of the strangest experiences. I had a new home, and I temporarily moved back to an old one. It’s hard to describe. In a strange way my second host family and me went back into our old routine of things. Even though it was a holiday. I guess you could say it’s like picking up a book you’ve already read. You can remember the times reading it before, but still experience it in a new way.

There is something special about being able to say I’m an exchange student. I’ve worked hard for that title. This short year is the only time where I actually get to play out the act of being a Rotary Exchange student. It can only happen once in your life. I take it as a super power. I see these tee shirts all over face book saying “I’m an exchange student/bi-lingual/have an accent, what’s your super power?” I can’t help but giggle. It’s true. Having some, or all of these things make you stick out. It’s like your super power to be a foreign exchange student.
We stop seeing the world from a one-sided view, and start seeing it through two.