Monday, November 14, 2011

Your not pregnant.... Your an exchange student!

                Their’s weight loss, then weight gain. Sickness ,nausea. Cravings, mood swings, and randomly bursting into tears.  If you type all these things into WebMD. They’ll most likely diagnose something like pregnancy. But you could just be an exchange student.
                I kid you not. Especially with the craving and food phases. Mexican food, they don’t have it in Italy so you go try Nutella. You get addicted to Nutella. Run out of Nutella you go to the grocery store and find m&ms. Run out of m&ms your back to Nutella. Then your host mother comes home with clementines  a whole month before they would be in stores back in Texas and those are your obsesion. Then you have an apple and suddenly it’s apples, apples,apples, and maybe some Apple and Nutella if you are attempting the homework from school today because you could sort of kind of understand the teacher, and the math problem that look more like they threw a graph with greek and latin together.
                I don’t joke.  This is so true. And I know this is horrible to say but there for a while I literally thougth “there is no way this is culture shock, homesickness, or whatever they call it. I’m having the next baby Jesus.”
                Turns out I’m just an emotional eater and Italy has made me emotional. Maybe it’s because I suddenly fell like Malibu Barbie, all plastic no brain. Because even when my host mother speaks English to me she has to draw it out at times. Or maybe because I ride the emotional high of speaking Italian only for the person I’m talking to, to have this completely lost look on their face equivalent to the first day I was here and someone spoke Italian to me.  (Turns out I can pick up math easier than a language. Who would have thought that!)
                Anyways I get happy over something, the next hour I’m sitting their huddled against the heater trying to read my text book and thinking if I was at home I would have finished this by now and could be sitting outside with my dad while he grilled or talking with my step-mom while she cooked dinner. And I wouldn’t be freezing.  And then my host brother (who I happy to say, we have bonded much better than I thought we initially would that first two weeks were he never  acknowledge me. We actually got into a fight the other day. We were at the dining table eating lunch, which just happens to be in the coldest room in the house, and he was telling jokes. I told him to just stop because they were horrible, in Italian of course, and he replied to be quiet because I just couldn’t understand them and I snapped back that I didn’t see anyone laughing.  And this afternoon it took us an hour between his broken English and my broken Italian to discuss what I did in three of hours school that morning and how I liked my new math class. (I will tell more of this later) Ans who and then my host brother will walk in and do soething that makes me laugh. Or Micia the devil host cat will come strolling in and attack my feet. Or Ludo will ask me to help her with her English homework. And the homesickness is gone and it usually stays away.  But these emotionl shifts were me out, especially since more Italian is being spoken to me every day and I’m actually understanding the different tenses and understanding completely and not just the jist and it’s like the strain of listening ot every accent and translating rapily at times for unfamiliar words that just aren’t immediate tire me out.
                But this morning I did correct my English teacher, and it wasn’t on her English it was on her Italian. My class was so proud of me. 
                And my orario, or time table, got changed once again to a lower math class. (I feel really good about this one) and while meeting the kids before the teacher arrived the girl spoke to me in italian. I was busy looking at my new schedule an asked her to repeat. She got this look on her fast most get when their about to speak English and I without even thinking said. “No englese, solo Italiano. Repeti, per favore”.  No english, only Italian. Repeat please. And they all smiled and I conversed pretty well with them. Also I was able to hold my own this morning when one of the nice women in the apartment building offered me a ride in her car to school. Of coruse at first I thought she was just asking if she could wlak with me to the bus walk, the notion of car rides now are so weird. I think. “That’s so close, you can take the bus, or train, and not have to worry about parking.” Italian mentality. Also Italian road rage.  Anywho after she said” macchina”, car.  I tried best to explain to her that I preferred to take the bus since I still had a while until I had to be school since I entered later on Mondays. Also because I’ve seen these Italian drive in cars, I only trust my host mother and that’s barely as she zooming around these break neck curves on these high sheer cliffed mountains.
                But these little winning moments make my day. And my friends are truly amazing because they sit their as I struggle to get out a complicated sentence or when I don’t understand them and they have to talk very slow one word at a time. (omedays my brian processes better than others.)
                Also these new classes I’m in I love because it’s amazing when your walking down the halls with your friends and someone from one of your other classes says. “Hello Paige” (They refuse to great me in Italian. I don’t know why even after I’ve asked.) and I say “Ciao” back and my friends. (These are the people from my first class I stayed with every day for the first two months) just look at me. I can only smile.
                But my new math class I love it. I will admit I learned very precious lesson today of “Do not judge a book by their cover”. My new math teacher is shorter than me and while pretty she looks way to young to be a teacher. Also she has this short cropped hair cut but growing off right side of her head is this long three foot braid just out of no where. My first impression was. “Oh God, please be with me.” This was going to be some spiteful, or weird teacher that would yell and scream. It turns out she very soft spoken, until she’s teaching then her perfectly articulate and easily understood Italian floats to your ears and she very fun and nice. I even complimented her Italian today, saying that I couldn’t understand it very well. And she smiled brilliantly. She has very good English (which hopefully won’t have to get used much) and was her self an exchange student for a year in the Neatherland area, or maybe it was Denmark. This little tidbit of information was introduced to me when I was still in shock over her appearance. My counselor for school who helps me with my schedule actually had to ask me twice to say my name for her because I was in such shock. So just be glad I remember that bit
                But I have learned one thing else, Italians love to rag on each other in English. Even if it’s just simple sentences such as “He is a pig” it was “He is pork” until I corrected them.Or things like. “He is a bush” I had a trouble figuring that one out until she pionted to the guy and he had this afro going on.
                OH!  Speaking of appearances. There is this boy, (let me finish before you role your eyes), but he’s not this scrawny , or sleek muscled bean pole that plays soccer  while were studying volleyball in gym.  HE bigger in the I’m a line backer for a football team but tall and a wall of muscle, kind of way.  I so want to say hi and just talk to him and tell him  he reminds me of a football player, in a good way. Maybe it’s me searching for familiarity while kind of going through a second slump, or maybe its just that he seems like a funny guy . But I just want to meet him!! Say hi or something. So when I’m fluent in Italian the first person I’m walking myself up to and introducing myself to all by myself is this guy. It will become my personal mission!!!
                So I guess you could say it’s  just been a good day. And on another note I got to skip school Saturday!! And go to Massa to pick up my residence card. It took only ten minutes and we didn’t pay a thing. (Which is really a shocker because in Italy nothing is every free, it always atleast a few euros especially when dealing with government) and it was funny because we walked out and my host mother turned toward me with a straight face said. “Were not a third world country after all”. I could only laugh.
                Of course then we went t this little small mall called Carrefoure. And I call it a mall but really think of a SAM”S Club/ slash giant super wal-mart as in set-up and not so mch bulk, but then their’s little stores like in a mall with a small food court and little cafĂ© area. But the whole thing is referred to as Carreforre. Confusing but weird, anywho we went there and I saw all the little chocolate and sweats and Christmas things and I got so excited. And that’s when I decided I’m going to do stockings for my host family. And in my family stockings are just a little but in a felt clumbed red sock. Their better than the presents and often more looked forward to. Of course they won’t be as amazing as if I was in texas but they will be pile high with chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate. And maybe something else, but defiantly “sweeties” as my host mother likes to say.
                On a last note, I’m already humming Christmas music and technically Thanksgiving hasn’t even passed yet. Maybe it’s because it as cold as winter here already as it is in Texas. I don’t know. But me and my host mother are going to try to makes a small Thanksgiving. No giant turkey of course.
                Buona giornata all. (have a good day)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Let Sleeping Exchange Students Lie......

                If you look at any Exchange students life, now or past, their webs connecting to them to other people are so much more vast and colorful. Their so much stronger than those of others. These relationships, survived distance, heartbreak, emotional distress, extreme happiness and doubt. These relationships have overcame language barriers and cultures, they have created friendships that people who don’t have this experience can never fully comprehend. You can say as an exchange student your linked to all other exchange student. When one falls everyone will reach down and give a hand to pull you out, because they did it for you. You can’t let each other fall, because that means you all fall. These people becomes you friends even if you have never meet them because they have experienced things no one else on this earth can even began to comprehend no matter how much you try to tell them or explain. They are a family and a support system of a bunch of fumbling young adults of the world who took this step off a cliff that was so high you couldn’t see the bottom of the abyss, so that they could open their minds, their hearts, and take the time to see what others won’t. Our elders are people not much older than us trying to guide us from their experiences. And while they are helpful like thumbprints, exchanges can be similarily close but never the same. When one falls from this link it makes one over come with guilt wondering if you could have helped, reached out more, done anything MORE….. and then when one fo the links that fall is a mighty one, someone who you know was so excited for this experience that they made you that much more excited for you, they were the ones who pictures and stories made you push even harder through the tough times so you could get there, smiling and enjoying it all. So when one of the mighty fall, even if not for the weakness that almost pulled you down it makes you wonder if you posses the strength to continue.
                Which goes onto to make an Exchanges student life so much more complicated. If you ever truly want to know who you are as a person, become an exchange student, you strength, physical, mental, emotional is pushed and stretched until your sure you’ll rip right apart, and you learn to live like that. For the rest of your life truly, because your always wanting for one place or the other, always missing friends from here and there.  You have your life back home, and the emotions from there, the events of your friends and family. You have your life in your host country, your everyday life and experiences and emotions that go along with that. Then you have your friends spread across the world, their downs and their ups, you ride the rollercoaster with them because as exchange that’s what you do…
                I don’t think one can truly describe all these emotions and explain what it feels like. I truly believe if there is one thing Rotary could add to their interview process of application requirement is an evaluation by a physcologist. Because it’s one thing to say your going to be an exchange, it’s another to put yourself on that plane and land in a foreign country by yourself, and a totally different one to live everday, thorugh the amazing, the good, and the ugly until it’s time for you to go. It’s one of those things were you either learn to swim or your going to drown.
                And I know this makes an exchange sound horrible, but at the same time it’s one of the best things to feel in the world. Because when you get see the pictures of your friend smiling, facebook statuses no longer in English… if pushes you and it feeds into your happiness knowing when you all back together the stories that while flow will be endless, vast, and everlasting.
                It’s another feeling you can’t explain….
                But I’m going to try, because there are those that don’t get this experience, there are other that get it and are forced home for some reason or another….
                And as a good friend just recently told me, I have a great story to right. So that’s what I’m going to do….

                And I know most of you are wondering how my birthday went and how life is going, but with certain recent events that have happened talking about my trivial life seems so meanial… Just know that I am fine, I am living my life contently, but that is about to change, I’m about to live, because I have realized now is not the time to float through an exchange… I have one year, one year in Italy.  I will not send spend it sitting in bed, writing abut what I ate or how treadful school is… I can tell you all of that when I get home… I am going to live, now! , in this moment, for every moment. Because I am lucky, so lucky to have this experience, and I’m not going to waste it… I’m going to live, for those who can’t have this experience and for those who lost their chance to live it….
When the mighty have fallen… they don’t pull you down with them, they show you your true strength and  reveal your wings.
                I going to keep my head held like I’m always wearing a crown…. And I’m going to fight every challenge that life through at me to knock me downa dn ruin this.
                Because this is my crowning battle….. and I will be victorious not only for me, but for those that this chance was stolen from…. I will live this for you… for me… for everyone..
                Because this is my chance to change the world……
And I’ll be damned if I let the torch you passed die out…