Libby, Outbound to Italy

Ciao a tutti! It has been almost three months since I arrived in Sardinia. It is very beautiful here. I came early to spend some vacation my amazingly kind host family on the beach. It was extremely awkward when I first got here because the members of my host family were complete strangers, I met so many new people so fast, and I couldn't understand anything. For the first week or so, I did beach stuff and then moved to Cagliari. After, I prepared for school and explored the city (there is an awesome archaeological museum and a gorgeous cathedral). School in Italy is more difficult than school in the United States. They have more oral tests and less group work, etc. My classmates are all very kind and help be out a ton. I am one of the lucky few exchange students who doesn't have to go to school on Saturdays. Typically, my day goes like this: I wake up at like 6:45 to get ready, leave at 7:35, walk to school (around 1.5 miles) and then have school from 8:20 to 2:20. I go to a scientific school where every student takes physics, art, English, Italian, math, PE, religion, history, philosophy, and chemistry. After, I take the bus home and eat lunch around 3:00. In the afternoons I either study or hang out with other exchange students, or do both. Dinner is around 8:30 and is the most important "family meal" because my host family and I eat together then almost every night. On the weekends I go to hang out or just relax. Here in Cagliari there are around 18 or so exchange students so we get together quite often and find something to do. At first, we went to the beach a lot, but now it is cold and rainy and gets dark much earlier, so we do things more in town (like get food). The food here is A M A Z I N G. The cool thing about Italy is that each region has their own food, and Sardinia has very good food (they put sea urchin in pasta???). I eat a lot of pasta, pizza, sandwiches, and gelato. Not that there is much outside of these categories, but I haven't gotten sick of it yet. As far as the language is coming along, when I first arrived I couldn't tell where one word began and another ended. Now I can understand more than I can speak, and I feel as though I have improved, but I still have a long way to go. I was so surprised when I came here at the amount of people who know English. Many of them are very good, so communication hasn't been too hard. But, it is probably also hindering my understanding of Italian. Sardinia has a cool dialect that only way older people or those in more isolated villages speak. The younger people use it to curse or to express something specific and it's fun to learn. There is an Instagram account, if anyone reading is interested, called @sardiniansays that has some slang. Some of my local friends have been teaching some words as well. I have also traveled some, like last week I went on the Italy tour offered by Belo and saw Milan, Florence, Pisa, Rome, Naples, and Sorrento. My favorite cities were Florence (there is so much art there) and Naples (it had a cool vibe and the best pizza ever). It was awesome besides from the fact 25 passports were stolen in Rome out of the 61 students who went. That ended up being a mess. Deciding to go on exchange was the best decision of my entire life. I have met so many amazing people, I have a wonderful host family, I have learned already so many new thing and seen so much that I wouldn't have if I stayed in Florida. I am so grateful for this opportunity made possible by the support from people I love at home and Rotary. Although it's not always easy (homesickness, language difficulties, etc.) I can confidently type that I am not just almost three months into my exchange but rather the best year of my entire life.

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