Caneel, outbound to Italy

Bellissimo. Magnifico. Incredibile. I often find myself often saying these words wherever I go here in Italy simply because it is just so beautiful and different from where I am originally from in Florida. I currently live in Northern Italy in the small town of San Felice, where I will stay for about another month before I move into the nearest city, Salò, with my family to be closer to everything: my school, the supermarket (very important because we go almost daily for fresh ingredients), and my host parents work. There is so much to see here that I am never close to being bored. If you just look out my bedroom window, past the neighbouring vineyard, you would see a field of cows, something I love to watch since I come from living in a city.

I love my host family. Although they started off speaking English to me (which was flawless), I stressed how important it was to me to try and speak Italian. I think I still sound like a cavewoman, but progress is being made. My host sisters are two of the kindest individuals I have ever met. Whenever they hang out with their friends at a theme park or even at one of their friends birthday parties; they are happy to bring me along. They always check up on me and introduce me to their friends. I know that I am probably an annoying shadow, but it really does help. My host parents are also great and I enjoy spending time with them. I make post office runs with my host dad and take long walks along the Lake with my host mom, learning about the history of the area and about their life B.C. (before Caneel).

I was surprised by how much Italian I could actually understand within my first week here (my previous four years of Spanish really helped). I am exciting to start school next week, ready with my new Italian planner and clothes that my host sisters helped me pick out. It is already starting to get cold here, so me being a Floridian, I have already pulled out my big "Florida Winter" jacket. The rest of my family just laugh and tell me to wait for winter, that is when the real cold comes.

Because iPhone's don't work here, I use mine for pictures and writing down words that I don't know while I’m out, to look up later at home. This has been instrumental in building my vocabulary. When I came here I took up journaling, which has also helped with my Italian. I would be writing in English and then wonder, "Hmm, I wonder what that word is in Italian". I end up with a serious mix of the languages, which just adds to the fun. At night, we often watch a movie together as a family, American and Italian made, with subtitles. I jot down words I see on the screen that I don't know and then look them up after. This is my favorite way to see conversations (if only real life had subtitles!).

Everything is smaller here: food portions (but not the amount of courses!), cars (the streets are tiny!), and the people (even though it seems we only eat carbs, I have yet to meet someone is extremely overweight!). The food is some of the best I have ever tasted, finishing my plate is not a problem, well by the third course I start leaving a few crumbs... The apartment buildings are also closer together and come in brighter colors, making the streets come to life.

One of the D’s (rules that you cannot break) is no driving. I had been driving for three years before I came to Italy and found that it is such a nice change to not have to drive because a) now I can look out at the scenic countryside, b) I would not know how to navigate the hundreds of traffic circles that are so plentiful they almost replace traffic lights and c) the speed and driving style is similar to any car chase scene in the Fast and Furious franchise (high speeds and extremely sporadic), yet everyone is calm- no one honks.

I love being here in Italy. The times of being completely lost and clueless (my new normal) are overshadowed by the wonderful moments of clarity when you finally understand what a word means or can answer a question the first time someone asks you it, instead of the fourth. I know I am still in the honeymoon stage of exchange, but I can hardly wait to see what the rest of the year has in store for me. I’ll be ready. Grazie Rotary!

Ciao! *kiss on both cheeks (left side first though!!!)*
-Caneel

To see some photos and my home page click HERE