Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I gotta...I gotta pocketful of sunshine....

This blogs title is dedicated to my host sister... she fell in love with this song after hearing it on my Itunes, and was singing it when I started writing it today. It fit my cheery mood and made me think of "Easy A" the movie.....
 …..Because she carries Texas in her heart.
(written Saturday Sept. 17, 2011)
                In the past few days I realized many things. One, which was pointed out to me, is that my English grammar is already on the decline. (like it was amazing in the first place). That Rotary is truly a family, a great one to have at that. I owe my exchange not only to my YEO who told me he refused to give up on me, when I told him how I was feeling down, but mostly a great friend from outbound camp that sent me an e-mail. He reminded me that this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and to remember when times get tough and homesick rears it ugly head that it’s not a year long. So thank you (I’m not naming names), but you know who you are. And if you are reading this, I hope you are doing better as well       I also realized that people who go out of their way to say “good morning” to you in English are actually, in your head, considered more your friends  than people who seemed to fawn over you in the beginning. I thank God for those people as well.
                                So what have I been up too….
School. That’s about it. All my teacher’s now seemed notified that I speak no Italian, and by speak that means, reading, comprehension. None of it. The last to be on board was my Science teacher and she still doesn’t understand that I don’t know any Italian, atleast not to the level she needs. And then she went to tell m that I needed to make a conversion chart for American Units to metric units so I know what she’s talking about. I had to bite my tongue to keep from telling here that as “Americans” were not stupid. We do use the S.I. system in Science (Chemisty) and math. In fact that’s mostly all it is unless it’s a practice problem. And that you can’t convert American to Metric without a whole bunch of decimals. And the reason I don’t understand the chart you just showed. BECAUSE IT’S IN ITALIAN!.   
                Yeah I’m convinced she’s may not be the sharpest crayon in the box, but hey I was never accused of being that either. She also looks like she never left Woodstock……
                Friday my host mother drove up in the mountains on a whim after seeing the view from the grocery store in town. The roads were winding and we ddin’t get to actually go to the quarries but we went up high enough that I about got a nose bleed and passed out from lack of oxygen. We stopped at one point to show me Carrara. The older part. It’s nestled beautifully between two green mountains. And I know it’s a sight most don’t get to see Carrara from, but they should. Because it was breath taking. And then of course my historic thinking mind went back to World History when we were talking about towns and why they were built in certain locations. Such as transportation, trade, protection. I smiled remembering that even back then I did my report about it on Roma. While I may be a good ways away from Roma ,all of Italy is breath-taking and enchanting. Anywho on the way down, it was more frightening that the twist and turns going up. Think two cars passing one car wide road that it’s dangerously twisted and on a mountains.
                And while I was praying Toni was telling me a little about Carrara marble. Like how most of the well known, actually any statue ( I don’t know if she meant Italy or really anywhere during a certain time period) were most likely made of Carraran(?) marble. Also how Michelangelo used to go up into the quaries themselves (that man must have had a good set of horses or he was really in shape) to pick out the marble. One time he picked out a piece so expensive that the Pope had to say now. Because it was between buying Michangelo the marble, or paying for a much needed war. You get the picture…..
                So the past couple of days haven’t been busy physically but emotionally great hurdles have been jumped. I believe I’m gradually moving out of the second phase of homesickness and culture shock and moving into embracing it all.  Which is good, because it’s the uphill side for a while then. Learning Italian, the culture, slowly becoming less of “The Texas  American” and more of myself, as I learn to express who I am. You know those kind of things. I was also informed yesterday that my would have been host mother might/will be giving me Italian lessons. Thank God… because flying solo I’m scared to death I’m going to teach myself completely wrong and insult someone. I don’t want to start a war, or you know make this Rotary district never want a kid from American again.
                I counted today I have nine weeks until I turn 17. Around 19 weeks till Christmas and they say after that first stint your exchange passes so fast days feel like second. So like I said sometimes when the big picture get to overwhelming you have to make of small goals. Of course since the flip switched a fews days ago after nearly packing my bags and going to Pisa myself  small goals aren’t really needed. I’m enjoying the moments. Like how the weather is slowly getting colder and I can’t wait for Winter ( I learned my host mother gets very festive for Christmas), or the happy fact that I’m an anomaly at this point with loosing weight (knock on wood that I don’t start gaining), how every which way you turn looks likes it could be on a postcard. Those sort of moments. 

 Men are Complicated, Especially THE MAN
                Today was a great day. Not only did I get to sleep in, but I didn’t have to go to school…  Instead I got to go to Massa with my host mother for the first part of my Temporary residence card. As we drove into Massa we got to drive through the mountains and it was beautiful as always.  I also got to see a castle in Massa. The castles here are usually built on the side of the mountains outside of town. And their not royal castles like they have in France but more like forts. Lookout post.  But like anything historic I was rubber necking out the window to see it until the last possible second.
                I also realized me and my host mother are very similar. We get lost easily. She even told me that her kids always complain about how lost she gets. I just sit there and smile and try to help her remember. I’m sure if there had been a camera following us they would have died of laughter.  So we get to the building and the office is actually on the outside of the building or the waiting are is. But it was nice outside this morning. Cool but not cold if you dressed right. We were next in line and ready to go when my host mother read that we needed four photos for the paperwork. She asked me if I had them and I looked at her wide eyed. The piece of paper was in Italian. I had all the other paperwork, plus more, but of course the one thing I wouldn’t care to translate told of something we needed.
                But it turned out to be a good thing. First of all my change problem is solved, I now have 1 value Euros, thought not many.  Second is in Italy, I don’t know if it’s because so many government and non government documents require pictures. They have booths similar to what you find the picture booths in the mall to be like. You sit there pick the sheet of picture you need and take a picture. It tells your picture is approved for government paperwork and you have three tries to get it right. It wasn’t the best picture in the world but at least it hadn’t been frizzy that morning so my already misbehaving hair was having an outright fit and my bangs were somewhat straight. The only good thing about the picture is that my eyes looked blue.  So we left the picture booth which was actually in a “Subway” (think of walks ways below busy streets so you don’t actually have to cross them.) We found our way back to the building and a woman who Toni actually knew from the gym was there. She talked to her across the area( she was younger) and Toni filled me in she was from Cuba. She was there at the office with her mother. She also talked about how learning a language was so easy for her because she loved to talk. Something that became very obviouse and have me smiling. I was also very pleased because I could start to pick out a few words here and there and comprehend simple sentences. 
                The fact was sitting there next to my host mother listening to this women speak Italian and just the moment was very nice and content and happy.  So much better than the massive head I knew I’d have if I was in school. We went into the office when it was out turn and the women was very nice who helped us. I had everything I needed, though we didn’t have to pay anything besides four euros for the photos, and it confused me a bit because that morning Toni told me to bring the money that was sent with me  for this type of stuff, because the government always had you pay for something. Yet as we were walking out of the office later she also mentioned some years the prices go up, other the prices go down and some years you don’t pay anything at all. So she didn’t know. Like I said THE MAN is complicated.
                As the women was revewing all the paperwork  I looked across the wall and saw a map of the world. I startled myself  when I saw the distance between Italy and America. Just that morning Toni and me were discussing the damage done to Italy by World War 2 and how American comes to the wars and they never seem to be on American soil. I now understood exactly why. That’s a long way to send troops and supplies. I know understood just how wars can get so expensive so quickly.
                It also shocked me that I flew over that ocean and I would be flying over it again on the way back. Both times on emotional roller coasters. Tylenol PM never sounded like a better friend with that thought. But the point is, I am a long ways from home and it’s small things like that, that kind of freak you out and amaze you at the same time.
                So we got the first part of my residence liscense done. I return at the end of November to pick it up, hopefully.
                And then of course on the way pack to the car my host mother pulls me into a bread shop. It smelled awesome and I kept eyeing this massive Italian equivalent to donut except three times the size and fatter and from what I read it was stuffed with chocolate cream. For those of you who are not following me on facebook, I have a new love of Nutella. It not only cures homesickness, but everything else. It’s kind of like icecream(And I found out they do have Nutella icecream here. Italian’s are genius when it comes to food.) but it’s like icecream. Because you eat it to celebrate, eat it to eat, or eat it when your down. It hands down beats eating icing.
                We also ran other errands this morning including getting my year long bus pass. That was a funny ordeal because at first the people told me that because I was not a true residence of Carrara I could not get a year long bus pass. But the lady at the office said yes I could one and she made it sound like it was because I was a student that I could. Like is said THE MAN is complicated.  So now I have year long but pass, long story short. We also swung by my school, for many different reasons, and my principle practically gave me the assignment of watching T.V. to learn Italian. My host mother swears that this is the secret to learning any language and I think she might be onto something. But the principle said I was aloud to watch anything but the news.  Apperantly they don’t like what going on right now ( I asked what and couldn’t get a straight answer.)

                Professor Paige….. Wiat… What?!

                So my host mother teaches math lessons, she like a genius, and so are all of her friends. But one of her students isn’t very good at English, which all schools teach here. Said student is going to a private teacher for that but told his mother he just wanted to go to Toni for both math lessons and English. Toni told him she has speaking level but not teaching level and then she thought of me.
                I first of all was excited…. This was my chance to give and take. Teach a little English learn a little Italian, and make a friend. This kid from what my host mother told me is an awesome kid and an amazing artist, he attends the beautiful art school in town… so he would be a good friend to have.
                My second thought was, I’ve never taught anyone anything before, were in the world do I start… and my grammer which was never up to par in the first place is slowly on the decline if you can’t tell. (I give up on editing this post. You can guess and do it yourself. Love you! J)
                How many Italains does it take to change a lightbulb….
  Well it takes two plus a Texan. And the lamp still didn’t work, but it turns out it’s how many it takes to MAKE a light build, because the lightbulb was the problem. But still it was pretty funny because this was no typical lightbulb. In fact I think it might have been in France and it looked more like one of those leveler tubes you use when building something and the way it went into this lamp was completely riduculouse….. just saying….
And to round off of the blog in what seems like whats becoming my style, is the emotional, what I’ve learned part. One is Monday’s every where no matter if their in another language stink, school can sometimes feel like a form of torture, and bad days still exist they just seem so much worse when added upon culture shock and homesickness. I believe my exact words to one of my friends were  “sometimes I just embrace the day and life and it kicks me in the metaphorical balls.” I know it’s not the classiest saying, but it pretty true. Yet I’m starting a life for myself here, and now I’m starting to realize why it’s hard to come home when you’ve been away for a year. Sometimes I take comfort in the fact that I have set return to Texas, I know I’m coming home in a year. Yet as I make a life here, and true friends down the road, I bond with my host family…some moments the thought of leaving them without a set return, never knowing when I’m going to hear my host brother or sister bicker. Or my host mother lecture my host brother because he’s being a typical teenage boy (even sometimes I want to throttle him). See Micia my spastic, hellan, trouble-making, dignified host cat. Or just see them all again in person after I return home, well I thought about that today, and I nearly started crying.
                Maybe it’s the mood swings that comes along with whatever is that our brain goes through ( I know other kids have them as well, they were a discussion one night on our facebook group… and exchange student munchies)  or  I may just be adjusting, I’m pretty sure when it comes times to get on that plane to go home, I might be thinking Italy is home, and why aren’t they letting me stay…..
                Ciao. Bouna Notte.

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