Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Last One

My stomach is twisting and turning, I feel really hot, my head is unclear, I can't identify my emotions, I'm dead tired.............. Tomorrow at 6:45am I begin my journey home. Back to the USA!

I thought I'd better squeeze in one last blog on my last night here in Sanluri, Sardegna, Italia. Just be prepared now for the spelling errors and English mistakes. It happens haha. These last months have been ones I will never forget. Jumping back to May, I was very busy.... it was the last month of school. I became very close with my school mates and even a lot more closer with my friends in my town. Even more, my volleyball team. We took first at a tournament we had that was at this beautiful beach town. We stayed in a 5 star hotel, and really had a blast together!!! After that, I was very busy at school with the last tests and reports, but more importantly, very busy with going to the beach as much as possible :) Every chance I got, I jumped on the bus to Cagliari for the day or two, to go to the beach with all my friends! The water is unbelievable I still can't get over it....I get in and think I can drink it its so clear, until the salt overwhelms all my senses ahah. And at this time its at such a nice temperature you can stay in there for hours!!!! AHH I am going to miss it! But back on track..yeah..school, beach, friends...all amazing. The last weekend before school got out, me and 5 other exchange girls did two days of windsurf lessons!! It was soo fun! I was born to surf I swear...I never wanted to get off the board. And windsurfing is even more exillerating because once a strong draft comes along, you are OFF and have to hold on tight!!! It was super fun I can't wait to do it again. June 10th was my last day of school...It was sad!!!! No crazy parties or year book signing like in America, but saying goodbye to everyone was really strange and really did make me realize how much I had grow to love my mates from the year. After school ended I had 5 days to totally prepare for my tour, and even for my journey home to the states right after I returned. I started getting my bags completely ready (which included donating/throwing away at LEAST 150 pounds of things, no exaggeration!!) and doing the final things for the trip. I went to the beach a few times, said goodbye to a bunch of people, was stressin out a lot...but then Sunday the 15th arrived and me and Erica Gale were off to see Europe.

And believe me...WE SAW EUROPE!! Sadly not EVERYTHING but the main cities we totally know like the back of our hands now! We started in London. It was cool, just a crazy city, the coolest accents, things to see, very fast moving, chaotic..but cool! I liked seeing big ben, and riding around in the famous red double deck buses! We stayed in a hostel right in the center which was so nice, and had lots of fun. Next came Dublin. SOO CUTE! Seriously it was sooo cute I loved Ireland! It was totally typical, rainy days, cute, calm Irish streets, and AMAZING friendly Irish people! They were the nicest for sure. We started off the first night with going to an Irish music and dance show....AHHHH it was sooo cool we absolutly loved it!! The Irish dancing, you know like river dancing..lord of the dance....was so good, all live right in front of us...they were so good! In Dublin we also went to a few live music Irish pubs which were fun and good entertainment, and Erica says the beer was good ahah. We toured the Guiness Beer factory thing, it was interesting. We saw a cute little castle.....Other then that we just enjoyed walking around in the rain and talking to people and hearing their cool accents and stories! We then flew into Amsterdam for one night...and seeing as we only had one night...we decided to not book a hostel and just see the whole city and do everything with our short time...and I don't regret a single decision! We started off with a beautiful boat tour through the AMAZING canals....I have never seen a place like this in my life! It is absolutly beautiful, I fell in love with the unique architecture and beautiful canals..and the best part...EVERYONE RIDES A BIKE THERE! No joke. EVERYONE has a bike. They are cute old bikes, the locals even told us that bikes get stolen all the time, and thats no big deal because the mikes cost only like 10 euros. What makes them mad is thier nice expensive locks that go missing or broken! They have bike lanes everywhere, signals, everything..its awesome! No traffic or car smoke or anything, just a bunch of bikers with little bells zooming around! I loved it! We then were able to watch one of the Euro 2008 soccer tournament games.....Holland won! It was so cool to be traveling Europe during this tournament and seeing all the games in the different countries who were playing..so much fun!! After we went to a discotec..which was by far the strangest discotec I have ever been to! The dutch have a total unique and crazy style of dressing and dancing..ahah me and Erica were just laughing our heads off most the time! It was so weird! But so much fun! By the time we left, it was already light outside! ahaha so the new day started, we saw more of the city, and ate a wonderful dutch pancake breakfast (free from the friends we made) and then went to the airport.......where we found out we were too late for our flight because we misread the time! That blew, but luckily a train to Berlin was leaving right away that we caught. The 7 hour ride was perfect to catch up on some lost sleep! In Berlin we stayed with other friends, which was nice. We finally got to eat a few real meals in a row. We saw some of the city, and enjoyed some relax time. Also there we saw the soccer game where Turkey won...and if you didn't know, Germany is FULL of Turkish people, Berlin is even refered to as the second Istanbol...so after that game the city was in an uproar of crazy celebrating Turks! It was great. After Berlin we flew into Paris..beautiful Paris. There we started out with a bike tour which was fantastic. We saw a lot of the city and had a great English guide who has lived there for 10 years or so. Its absolutly beautiful there. Apart from the thousand museums and major things to do there, it is so nice just to relax at a parisian park, lay in the grass and drink some wine while chatting with a few friends. But really thats what they all do there! Its great. Erica and I did have a nice picnic..and even fell asleep for a good hour or two no problems. In Paris we also climbed the sparkling lighted Eiffel tower at night, saw the whole city from way above (beautiful) entered the Louve museum, saw good ol' Mona Lisa and some other fantastic art.......Notre Dame was amazing.....And yeah we had a good time. Next came Barcelona! Espana!! It was beatiful, the sun was shining hot, and the beach was calling our name! So we checked into our hostel, got on our swims, and went right to the Barcelona beach, where everyones half naked, and the waves were big! It was nice to be back at the beach, but it was also very interesting to see how different the water was then the beautiful paradise waters of Sardegna! It was nice still..but no where near the luxurious Med sea around my little Island here! Anyways in Barcelona we got to see a lot of Gaudi's amazing sturctures and art...we saw the park.....and also saw Spain win the semi final against Russia. Go Spain! There were more parties that night as well, very fun. We made it back to the beach a second time, then the next day off to Venice. Venice was one of my favorite places. The party life definatly doesn't exist there..but the city itself is incredible. I have been dreaming of going to Venice since I was little...and none of my expectations were let down. It was beautiful. I hope to go there next time with boyfriend or husband though haha becuase it really is so romantic. The city is clean and the canals are beautiful and every single house surrounding them, with their front porch steps going right into the water, just caused me to sit and stare in disbelief. What?? People actually live in these amazing old beautiful buildings right on the water? No way. We road the water taxi thing around it was so fun. We even made it to the beach there! it was nice. We stayed in a lovely hotel, and tried our hardest not to spend anything because of how expensive it is there..but could not resist getting ourselves Italian pizzas the very night we got there! Seriously, we missed Italian food so much ! we are spoiled rotten! It tasted amazing. Also the gelato..some of the best I have ever had. After Venice we went to Milan for our final night, where we saw the incredible Dome Cathedrial thing, saw the extremely highpriced highfashion stores, the final game of the tournament where Spain took it all with a great goal by the very good looking forward Torres, and...we were really just drained! Went to bed, caught our flight the next day, right back here to beautiful BLAZING HOT Sardegna. Now everyone........ Just to let you know, Erica and I planned this whole trip ourselves, booked all our flights and hostels ourselves, and traveled all our Europe ourselves. I being 18 and she 17. Congratulations to us! Ok just kidding of course several people helped us out with some planning here and there..but in the end...we did it!!! We made it out safely and were so lucky. I am extremely thankful. It went amazing, a thousand times better then I could have dreamed, and I don't regret a single thing. It was a once in a life time opportunity and journey and something I will never forget in my life. I can't wait to re-see some of these places again, but I got the rest of the world to see first so it might take a little!! If anyone is interested in coming on the next trip, let me know! ahah:) Believe me, we have mastered taking flights and the metro and buses and trains to anywhere and in every condition ahaha. Ahh but it was so amazing I still get the butterflies thinking of the whole trip... Anyways..so back to Sardegna. SOoOO hot. I packed my bags, sent a wonderful 30 kilo 200€ pack home (haha..well I had to get my extra stuff home somehow!) said goodbye to so many people...went to the beautiful beach one last time today with my friends...and then tomorrow will come the really hard part. The bittersweet departure. I honestly can not wait to come home...but I honestly love my host family and friends and people here. Italy is now a huge part of me. Its culture has grown as close to me as if it were my own. To sit and listen to the Italian words that comes out of these peoples mouths..and be able to understand every single thing..and respond exactly how I want..is truly an unbelievable feeling. Just knowing how hard I worked and how hard it was to get to this point....Just knowing how much I sacrificed and the many things I missed..all to experience these things...to look back and see how much I have grown and how much I have learned..really brings tears to my eyes. Yeah, reading through my blogs might make it sounds like I was just on a grand vacation this year...yes it was amazing..but it was certainly not easy. To leave everything you know and everything you have to jump into a different life is something you can't completely understand unless you do it.. But I would do it over again 100 times for the countless wonderful times and experiences I have had and the many lessons I have learned and the amount I have grown. Thank you so much. Everyone. Thank you SO MUCH!!

Well....See you around in the States!
I love you all!


Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Stiamo per Finire

It always takes me a second to jump into these updates.... lets see whats been going on these last days!

April went right by in the matter of seconds. Highlights include a wedding, beach days, vacation village, Sant'efisio, trekking, and a fair. It was a pretty good month:)

The wedding was pretty much like the first wedding I went to way back in September. That puts my Italian weddings at 2. Mass, million hour dinner, lots of pictures, and some kareoke. Good times.

The beach days started way back at the first of April, where only crazy tourists like ourselves would go because it is still very cold on the seaside. But don't let the wind and clouds fool you! I came home a red lobster, it was insane! The sun here is SOO strong. Unfortunatly I live about an hour and a half in bus from the nearest beach, but that doesn't stop me, I am there as much as possible!

Wednesday the 23rd Sandra, Giuseppe, and I got our bags and drove to Villaggio Dei Pinni. Our beach resort-village! It is in north Sardegna at a place called Platamona, and it was amazing. It was a really nice place, with three huge swimming pools, one of which was indoors, a really nice courtyard, tennis courts, soccer courts, bocce courts, walking trails, and best of all....it was all right on the beach!!! We were served a HUGE breakfast, lunch, and dinner every single day. It has got to be a sin to each that much, really. In the 5 days were were there, we enjoyed Bocce tournaments, laying out by the swimming pools, going to the beach, swimming when we were daring enough in the icee water..it was super fun and relaxing. These friends of my host family with two daughters my age were super cool, and invited me to go to Lu Bagnu and Alghero with them, two very gorgeous, popular Sardinian towns. Lu bagnu was beautiful, with a big boat port. It is on the sealine with large hill/mound looking thing with a big castle on the top, called Castelsardo. It looked like some giant picked up handfulls of houses and just through them on the hills; they were all scattered around surrounding the castle, and soo beautiful. Alghero is also a very popular touristy town, with its adorable streets, good shopping, beach, and most known for its nightlife..that I am still yet to see. So one day back at the village, on the daily activity program, I read "calcietto torneo"... 5 on 5 soccer tournament...sweet! I wanna play. So I went down to the courts...where there were like 30 guys..0 girls. Well, what did I have to lose, I still wanted to play! So I asked if I could, I am sure they were all thinking I was crazy, but of course they let me. Get on a team...and boom. I scored. Anyways, it tourned out to be really fun, and my team won the tournament. We got some pretty sweet metals too haha. Oh yeah, our team name was Team Utah. haha. Another one of the days, I was sitting on the beach, and I see way far down this really cool looking, ancient, stone tower thing..and my family was in the room I was just laying out alone..So I thought I'd go check it out. So I took a nice half hour walk to it, and it was beautiful....the waves were crashing up against it, there were surfers in the little cove..I just couldn't believe where I was!!!! I took a bunch of pictures then walked 30 minutes back to the resort. It was a really nice 1 hour walk! I also would love to learn to kite surf someday, there were a few of them out too. They were SOO super good. Ah it's soo cool! Again about the resort, every night there was a DJ singer guy and group dancing and couple dancing. That was pretty exciting and fun, breakin it down with the adults, since there were probably less than 15 teenagers at the resort.. haha we had fun though. Sunday, the last day, after breakfast we left to see some cool places before heading back into Sanluri, like Pistis, Putzu Idu, Arborea, which are all amazing beaches, seriously describing them doesn't even help, they are incredible. One has water up to your knees/thighs for miles out, very shallow, and the cleanest, clearest water you can imagine. The sand was so fine, and the surroundings so beautiful...it is really a paradise. My favorite place we stopped was Tharrus, a very old town and little peninsula. It was my favorite because of the ancient ruins there, sooo cool, kinda like in Rome with the old houses and Roman pillar looking things..plus, the water and beaches there were also amazing. Anyways, after came along a switch of plans. My friend for Terralba's Mom called and said they were throwing a suprise party for him that night and invited me to come to the party and spend the night. Terralba is close to where we were, so I said sure, as long as I can have a shower (since we had been at beaches all day). I packed a bag and we went there, the party was fun party, he totally didn't expect a thing, then the next day we went to another beautiful beach for the day. Sadly, Tuesday was back at school again...and Wednesday I even had a test, but after school I was right out the door again to Cagliari for the night.

Thursday was Sant'efisio, a big festival/parade which includes a group of people representing all their different towns in Sardegna, dressed up in their traditional clothes, parading through the city, followed by the Saint. It was really cool, I saw some very pretty costumes and learned a few old cultural traditions. I was with all the students from AFS because they do a lot more then Rotary here, and there were a bunch of new students also, here for a week exchange. We all hung out at the beach the rest of the day. Friday I would have gone back to school, but the AFS directors invited me to go on a trekking trip with them and the 50 other students.
So Friday morning I got up nice in early, all ready to go do some hiking or what not! I wasn't exactly sure what to expect. We all loaded on the bus, and our first stop was Barumini, known for its ancient Nuraghe, really really really old houses that they lived in. It was very interesting and I am glad I got the chance to see them. Next we headed three hours to our Hostel in Santa Maria Navarrese, another very beautiful town. We were down at the beach all day, I felt like I was in some un-real dream, with all my friends on this amazing beach, climbing these awesome rocks and cliffs, in the crystal clear water...It was incredible! The next day is where we did the trekking, about 4 hours on a trail on the edge of the mountains looking over the beautiful mediterranean sea the whole time....it felt so nice to be out on the trails hiking again after so long! After we then spent the rest of that day at the beach again, and back home that night.
So it didn't stop there, the next day after sleeping in a bit in my own bed and house, I took the bus yet again to Cagliari, to the fair that was in town. Sadly, it was really lame and a waste of 5 euros, so I won't go into detail there. Lets just say if you are interested in tractors or solar pannels, you would have found it very worth while.

Well now I am back at school again :) Almost done, less then a month left of it! Then a bit of summer, Euro-tour, and hello America. I really feel good about this exchange and all the things I have done, and will come home not feeling one bet regretful! That is most important. I have been so lucky with my family and the endless opportunities I have be able to do and see..really amazing things. I'll save all my analysises and thoughts for the last blog..for now just know I am good, healthy, and vivendo la vita. Living the life!

A million thanks to everyone! See you soon!


Oh yeah.... yesterday I registered my classes for my first semester of college! I am going to Utah Valley University, have been accepted into the honors program, and will be moving on campus in August! Crazzzzyyy!!!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

MARZO a month of travel

WOW it is incredible to think of the thousand of new things I have seen in just the last month....man it flew by...

Sunday March 9th I met with a large group of my school mates in the Cagliari Airport, all getting ready to go on our school trip! Every year Calazanzio goes on a school trip to some city in Europe. This year was Strasbourg, France. Strasbourg is right on the border of France and Germany. We stayed in a hotel on the German side, a strange little hotel with stuffed animal heads and antlers hung all over the walls, weird paintings, and a crazy little German hotel manager. We all had roomates, I with a girl named Ilaria. The first day we arrived there in the evening and settled in to the hotel, had dinner, and hung around. I was excited for this trip to get to know everyone a bit more, and of course to see all these new places. And it went really well. Strasbourg is beautiful, a small typical town, cute and antique, with a river going through it, skinny, small, tall, colorful houses, beautiful churches and buildings, cobblestone roads, people riding around on bikes and walking everywhere, sun shinning but kinda cold... We went to a few really cool museums, lunch, and the Cathedrial of Notre Dame. Of course, not the famous one in Paris, but this one was very cool also! The sturcture and architecture of these buildings never stops to amaze me. The next day we went to Le Haut-Koenigsbourg castle (http://ecoles.jeriko.fr/studio-internet/ht_koenigsbourg/ht_koenigsbourg/nss-folder/album/vueaerienne1a.jpg). Thats now the second official castle I've seen haha. I love them though, this one was really cool...it had a midevil feeling... and was just really pretty. We took a tour, then went to Alsace, the little town below, and stayed there the rest of the day. At night we all went out around town and to a cafè and stuff near by our German hotel, everyone together having a way good time. The next day we went back to Strasbourg, saw the parliament building, went to a modern art museum, then had free time to walk around again. The last day we got up early and were off for the journy home. We all got on the bus, and first stop was in Letzten Switzerland. We got there around 10 in the morning and had time to go around and do whatever we wanted with whoever we wanted for the next 6 hours. Oh my gosh I completely fell in love with Switzerland. It is amazing. This town was perfect.. sorrounded by the incredible snowy alp mountains, the atmosphere was soo relaxed and beautiful, the air was so fresh, it wasn't that cold, the buildings were beautiful, the lake was clear....I don't even know exactly why..but those 6 hours were probably my favorite out of the whole trip just because that was my first time ever in Switzerland, and I now absolutly love it. I want to go back so bad! It was just...beautiful. Oh man, and the chocolate? WOW. Never had anything like it before haha. Allrriiggghhtty, after that, we went to Milan and caught our flight, and arrived back in Cagliari March 13th at around 11:30ish at night. I went home, and...repacked!

March 14th I woke up nice and early, and off to the airport again! I flew to Pisa, by myself, for my next little adventure. I got off the plane, bought my bus ticket to Florence, and a city ticket to go see the tower real fast! I got off the bus, ran over and saw the famous leaning tower of Pisa..took lots of pictures... oh man it was SO COOL!!!!!!!!! Then I went back to catch my bus..went to Florence..and had two hours before my next bus!! But, come to find out, the center of Florence is small! All the amazing monuments are all right there! So in two hours I saw a bit of all, of course, not nearly enough, but the monuments were just...incredible..there was the church of S. Maria Novella, then church of S. Lorenzo, S. Maria del Fiore (HUGE marble dome...sooo amazing....) then Palazzo Vecchio which had the "statue of david" and then I went over to this super cool bridge called Ponte Vecchio..looks like buildings across the water. ALL so cool. Then I went to Siena where I finally met all the other exchange students who were doing this whole thing togetha. It was me, Erica, Maria, Kass, Charlie, Marianne, Gabrielle, Oda, Kevin, Chris, the AFS Cagliari director Andrea, and a teenage volunteer Niccola. We then saw Siena together, went to the main Piazza, climbed the super high clock tower thing, and you could see EVERYWHERE. I couldn't even grasp it....it was amazing. The houses were so old, the streets just a complete maze twisty mess, extremely small...you could see the ancient city walls...the 4 main churches...everything. Ah I could have stayed up there forever. After that, we went to our hotel in Colle... A cute old Italian city in Toscany...mm beautiful. THEN! Next day..off to....ROMA!!!!!!!!! WOOOO. Rome was amazing. The coolest city I have ever seen. There were so many people and so much going on..but it just has this really good chill kind of feeling to it...Anyways I just had my jaw dropped the whole time. EVERY single courner you turn, you run right into another amazing ancient monument, church, tower, fountain..gosh..everything. I was with all my friends, we were just having a BLAST. We saw soo much I can't even name it all. By far my favorite was the Coliseum though. Unbelievable. I just couldn't get over it... couldn't believe this sturcture was real and still here today. Seeing it in pictures doesn't even compare. Sunday was a cool day...it was Palm Sunday. I'm not catholic and still don't really understand it, but all I know is when we went to St. Peters. Basilica..there were THOUSANDS of people there, and we saw the Pope! It was actually really cool! It was all on live TV across the nation..and there we were right in the piazza! Sorrounded by amazing pillars and the huge chapel...right there in Vatican City. That rest of the day after that was just really relaxed..just went site seeing all day..nice evening... the next day a group of us got up super early to get in line for the Vatican Museum. The two hours in line was well worth it...and the 3 hours or more we spent in it was not nearly enough. This museum is outstanding, jam PACKED with art, statues, paintings, everything.... Ah I just wanted to learn about ever single thing and was just wishing I knew more...the next time I go I'm for sure signing up for the 4 hour tour haha. The Sistine Chapel....was incredible. I just sat down in there and just...could not believe. It is out of this world. I could have easly spent hours in there, carefully looking over each design and story. Wow. So after we made it out of the museum, we went right to St. Peters. Also incredible. All the tombs of the past Popes... all these amazing works of art by Michaelangelo, Pietà one of his most famous..it was by for sure the most outstanding Chapel I have ever seen. I need a wider range of adjectives to describle all these places..sorry haha. But really it was amazing. Lets see...Oh yeah that day was also St. Patricks day. We went to an Irish pub that night, it was fun. Well, yeah. Thats a tiny bit of Rome for ya. I absolutly loved it. We all flew home March 18th.

Next in this crazy month came Easter. One of my best friends came and stayed with us for the last 9 days, so that was extremely fun. For easter we had a big, traditional lunch with family. Then the day after easter is called pasquetta, (easter is pasqua in Italian), and the day of pasquetta you traditionally go out with friends to the beach, go to your beach houses, eat lunch, have fun..relaz...too bad this years weather was HORRIBLE for pasquetta! We went to this little park called Sardegna in Miniatura...but didn't really even enjoy it because it was raining and hailing all day. Oh well. The next day was nice, we got to go to the beach (not yet ready for swimming though..soon I hope). Wednesday (yesterday) I went back to school for the first time since March 9th, but its ok, all that traveling was so important and just a thing I HAD to do. Now I am just settling back into my normal Italian life.... 8 days and 3 months until I am home everyone. You can figure out the date :) I was going to let it be a suprise..but oh well! I plan to completely stop speaking english after this update, I want my Italian really good before I come home.. Other then that...I just want to enjoy these last months to the fullest! Any advice or updates of your own, send me an email! Don't be shy to contribute to my disappearing bank account either ;). Well, lots of love to everyone!! Sorry I had you waiting so long for a blog and update, but don't worry, I am alive and doing great!!!!



PS- I'm going on my own organized spead EUROTOUR with another exchange student July 15th-30th. We are going to LONDON, DUBLIN, AMSTERDAM, BERLIN, BARCELONA, PARIS, VENICE, and MILAN. I am so excited! We are doing everything low cost, and plan to stay in Hostels and inexpensive bed and breakfasts, but would REALLY APPRECIATE any advice or reccomends as of what to see and do in these cities! Also if you have ANY friends or relatives in ANY of these places that would by chance like to host two very good girls for a night, that would help us out SO MUCH! THANK YOU!!!!! Let me know at soccer_rocker44@hotmail.com


Monday, February 11, 2008

The Fabulous Month of February

...January was good...February has been amazing....March will even be better. Life is good:)

Helllooo everyone! How are we all? Well I'll just jump right into this.

Soo January..wasn't the most exciting month, but it was very well used. I basically just focused on getting all my schooling and stuff in order for when I return. I applied and got accepted to the University of Utah and Utah Valley University, worked hard on applying for scholarships (and still am) which means writting tons of essays and answering lots of questions and blah blah blah we know how that goes. . and yeah just figuring all that out. Not that interesting. But around the last week in January, a friend of the families calls up and invited me to go with the AFS (another exchange program) exchange students to Terrabla for a week. Terrabla is another little town northeast-ish from Sanluri, not to far. So what was this all about? CARNEVALE!!!!!!!! AHH! Soo fun. Alright, so me and 55 other exchange students from Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bolivia, Brasil, Canada, China, Costa Rica, Finland, Germany, Japan, Guatemala, Honduras, Iceland, Latvia, Norway, New Zealand, Peru, Dominican Republic, Servia, Russia, Thailand, Turkey, Hungary, and USA all went to this town for a week. We each stayed with week long host families. Mine was a cute grandma named Maria, and an EXCELLENT cook haha. We had a schedule of activities for the whole week, it was busy and extremely fun. We met the governer and went to a few important meetings, played a basketball game against an Italian team, had a huge talent show with all the exchange students and a big buffet, free time with families and friends..and then the best part....le sfilate per carnevale! Ok so the whole time I have been in Italy people have told me how great carnival is and how they look forward to it all year...so I was pretty excited..picturing all these different things in my head of what it would be like...and I wasnt let down! What it is, is a HUGE parade with tons of different amazing floats, that represent towns or businesses or groups. They all that have music blasting out of them, and a huge group of people dancing behind and around them. EVERYONE dresses up and goes CRAZY for the whole day! There are people dressed to match their float, and also TONS that are just free and go and dance wherever they want. Most everyone drinks the whole time, everyone throws confetti and sprays silly string, and really- the whole town is just in an uproar, partying and celebrating and festaging, the streets are a mess of color and everyones just out of control! Adults and older people line the streets to watch the parade, and it circles the city a few times, and really, everyone dances and parties the whole time! Our group of exchange students had our own float, it was a gigantic globe, and we all dressed up like people from different countries. I dressed up as a seniorita! Spaniola! We all got ready together in this big house, then followed our float from 3-9pm, dancing dancing dancing the whole time, and after, just kept on dancing in the piazza. It was soo fun. So these parades were on February 3rd, 5th, 9th, and 10th, each in different towns. The 10th is the biggest sfilata, and all the floats from all the cities come together...I think there were over 30. They were amazing. I had soo. much. fun. Sadly now..its over..my first carnevale Italiano. Beautiful. Ok but I have to jump back real fast, also us exchange students went to La Sartiglia, a REALLY cool sardinian tradition, in the city called Oristano. Its kind of hard to explain...there are a bunch of teams that come from each of the towns of Sardegna, which consist of 3 people on horses. They are all dressed up and masked and their horses are all decorated and stuff. Tons of people come watch these teams compete. The street is covered in sand, and closed off, and between two posts is strung a tiny star with a hole in the middle. A long ways down the street, one horseman will start and be sprinting and top speed with his sward out. The objective is to get it through the hole in the star, and if you succeed you bring good luck to your town for the up coming year. Look at this web page..you can see what the guys look like and the star at the bottom...and if you understand italian you can read a bit haha. http://www.sardi.it/sardegna/sartig1.htm Anyways, it was really cool, an awesome thing to be able to see. All in all it was an amazing week and a beautiful carnival. And meeting all those teens from everywehre was super awesome, they are all so interesting and I love hearing about what each of their countrys is like and just learning all about their cultures. At the end of the week we were all just such good friends, it was so neet to look around and thing wow...we all come from totally different countries..totally different backrounds...but here we all are friends and just...in reality..normal teenagers.. all alike. Yeah it was great.

So that is what I have been up to all February! But, not all of it was just partying. I have been working on school and stuff also:) haha. Oh, and the end of January my host brother Giovanni and his girlfriend came home from Australia, where he has been for a year and a half. They are staying here for 2 months and then going back. It has been cool getting to know them, they are both really nice, and fun to have around. Hmm what else...the weather is beautiful, its sunny and warm..I definatly have summer fever already. I just wanna go to the beach and be done with school! haha. The Italian is here. Its so weird to think...wow..I speak and understand Italian. Crazy. Friends are amazing, I make more and more every day, and can already see how sad it will be to leave them. I'm planning to travel the world and visit each and every one of them someday haha. Family life couldn't be better. School...is a whole different argument..wow...the Italian school system is so messed up. I won't go into depth about it here, but if you are interested to hear what it is like, let me know and I'll tell you. Anyways, that doesn't matter, I still go and do all I can. Italian food is amazing, did you know that? I am in the process of learning how to be an amazing Italian cook. I think you need to be Italian to really become one, but hey, I'm doing what I can. I am excited to come home and cook for you all some great Italian meals! haha. If only I could bring back a breadmaker...Hmm I'll see what I can do. And a pizzamaker.. yummmmm I could eat Italian pizza every night haha.

Well that is all I can think of for now. I am doing great, thank you all for sticking with me. Its been 5 months, can you believe that? I don't regret a second! I don't even miss you guys! Ha jk I do..a little. ;) Anyways, now its your turn to shoot me an email telling me how your lives are! Love you all!


Thursday, January 3, 2008

Buone Feste a Tutti!

Happy holidays everyone!! I hope Santra bought you everything you ever wanted and that you haven't givin up your new years resolutions yet... it has only been three days...

So I'll keep this organized. We'll start with Natale.

SO Christmas is in Italy eh? It came and went super fast like it seems to be doing these years. After I got home from Germany I had a week of school, which ended Saturday with a mass and a Christmas program thing. I decided I would help with the program, so I got to read a poem in German, a stanza in Italian, and sing in the english song with a group. It was pretty fun. So that weekend before Christmas I did my last minute shopping and was just excited to see how these Italians celebrated! Christmas eve, I woke up, and me and nonna had a date to make lasagna for the nights dinner. She taught me step-by-step how to make fabulous Italian lasagna! And dang it was good. After that nonna, sandra, and I walked around little Sanluri, buying our last last minute needs. Then at home we all went to the first floor (nonna's house) to prepare for the big dinner! Which, SURPRISE! was just like any other big dinner. Antipasta, pasta, meat, veggies and fruit, dessert. Oh and their is ALWAYS bread...that is never ending. Just like that every time. and the meat of course was that good ol' pig, shoved on a sward, roasted slowly in the fire. But, its all yummy all the same. Then Sandra's sister, Marcella, and their family, came to join us for the fest. We sat down to dinner, it was around 9 o clock at night. And ate and talked and ate and talked. Around 11:30 ish we were winding down with the eating, and exchanged gifts between the family. My "cousins" gave me really good perfume and a little purse. Grandma gave me a towel with italian buon natale written on it, as a good memory she said, and a necklace, bracelett, and makeup pallet. Oh so sweet of everyone:) really! SO after that at 12, we all gave/wished each other AUGURI. You do that by giving everyone two kisses and saying AUGURI! haha its just wishing everyone the best. After that, we sat down at the table, and I tought these people the wonderful game of spoons. It was a hit. They loved it. and then I taught them Scum which they also liked a like. Troppo bellini giochi laurie!! Molto bellini. So that was fun. Then we just hung out and talked some more.....around 3 o'clock in the morning is when the other family went home, and we went upstairs. Upstairs we then exchanged our gifts, and also opened the ones my family sent us in the pack. All of which I loved, and my host parents loved. So it was a merry christmas, or, buon natale. Now, on christmas day, we went to lunch with Pepuccio's sister Lina and her family. The same meal, same sit and chat the whole day. From them I got a sweet bracelett. THEN on the 26th, the last day of the fests, we had our close friends over (the ones with the little girls) at our second house for a big lunch (of the exact same food-again). That lasted from 11 in the morning to 11 at night, not kidding. You just sit down, eat, and REALLY TRULY enjoy eachothers company. Not the polite quit formal visits we tend to make, the real life friendship stuff. At first these extremely long meals would KILL ME! Now, I'm really seein the beauty of them. You don't think about any of the stuff you have to do, that you need to get to as fast as possible. Nope. You just enjoy every minute with your company, laugh, eat, and relax.
So that was Christmas! It is definatly not as big here at all, I think I only heard 3 Christmas songs throughout the season, but, it was a nice Christmas.

New years! So my friends from school had invited me to the big party a few weeks before, but I was almost certain I wouldn't be able to go. It was in a whole different paese, the family my host parents didn't know really, and they had been telling me that its very dangerous to be out on this night. But I asked anyways..and it was an "oh I don't know Laurie" just like I expected. Alright, whatevs, not a big deal to me. But a few days before the big celebrations, my parents told me they are going to a party at Anna's with other adults, and that I should definatly go have fun with my friends! Yippy. So I went to the party. Ha it was so weird. I would say...about 30, 35 people were there. Most from school, so I knew pretty much everyone. And everyone was just getting the big dinner ready, boys roasting the meat, girls preparing other dishes.. It was so funny. It was just like a dinner you would have with your family, just this time it was with the teenagers. So we all sat down to the table, and BUON APPETITO! Can you guess what we ate? Well anyways, everyone was just sittin around the table, eating, drinkin their wine, smoking a few cigeretts... silly teenagers. After we finished, we cleared the tables, and ran outside for the new years! There were fireworks (lame ones) goin off, and the count down began. At 12 o clock bottles of spumante were shaken, corked, and sprayed everywhere, and drank. Then you wish everyone AUGURI again. We then went inside. I was hoping for a little DANCING I mean, come on! But no that didnt happen...the music was there..but not one really danced. The couples were kissing, everyone was smoking and drinkink, just hangin out. Not like any kind of american party I've been to.. it was interesting. But it was alright. Around 3 o'clock I went to the guest bedroom upstairs that the parents said was for me and slept until morning.
and that makes for my Happy new years!

SO now I am just enjoying my vacation...stayin up late, sleepin in... I have done some homework (which I actually have a lot of) made some resolutions, and even gone running a few times. We have this thing called sky, which is like super cable, and has good movies on all the time. So I watch them in Italian with the Italian sub titles, that helps me with me and also lets me enjoy a good movie here and there. And by the way my Italian is going great. Understanding everything is amazing. Talking is getting better also. I've also gone out with friends a lot, either in the piazza, or to cagliar, and even went bowling and to this big mall the other day. I won, gooo me. haha. I also killed everyone in airhockey, which if you know me, is just one of my things. Haha jk.

So other things in Italy? I could write a whole new blog just on the schooling system compared to America's. Its so different. I will explain another time. I love that here in Sardegna, clementines/mandrin oranges, pomegranates, and artichokes grow EVERYWHERE, three of my favorite things. Ha I also have this 94 year old grandpa, well cousins grandpa, who has no teeth and talks to me only in sard. Don't undestand a thing, but he really is the cutest old man. The weather is still brisk, but at least the sun shines. Life is going smooth and good, not much worries. The only worries and stresses I have are coming right from home! College, scholorships, and stuff like that. But it will happen, just gota stay calm. January is usually my least favorite month, so I will work especially hard to make it enjoyable. Volleyball is going great, we had a tournament over this break and I actually got playing time, scored a few points, and after we won they gave me the trophy to take home to remember this! I was like oh sweet....! Thanks. I am kind of nervous to go back to school, now that I undestand, a lot more is expected out of me. Ohh darn. haha. But its good for me:) Its funny, with my slow, calm, un pressing life, the american-ness inside me basically makes to do lists out of nothing, and trys to build stress anyway it can haha. OH NO Laurie you have to do your 5 problems of math homework tonight! DONT FORGET!!!!!!!!!!!! hahaha. I guess I just can't help my natural instinks.

Growing up is a crazy thing. I can really feel and see it. If any of you have comments or advice, just let me know! I hope your holidays have been great, and that your off to an amazing new year...2008 people! Crazy.

Well, tante auguri! Vi voglio bene!


Monday, December 17, 2007


What? Germany? Didn't I go on exchange to Italy?

December 6, 2007, my host parents and I packed our bags and got on a cute little yellow plane and flew to Stuttgart, Germany. WOO HOO! I was so excited. We stayed with Giuseppe's brother, Davide, and his wife Brigitte. When we first got there it was dark so as hard as I was looking out the window, I couldn't see a thing! We drove about an hour or 2 to the house. Still couldn't see anything it was super dark. We went inside and it was a small but a very pretty house, with lots of Christmas decorations and this big weird stove thing they use to heat the houses there. We had a big dinner, just talked and the families caught up and stuff, then went to bed. I could tell this wasn't going to be one of my typical vacations with the fam, where my Dad has every day planned and we get as much out of it as possible. The attitude was go with the flow and plan at the time..so I was a little aggravated because I wanted to SEE GERMANY! But I got over it and just was happy to be there.

Germany is EXACTLY how I imagined. Grey sky's, endless green, hilly landscape, with tiny, white houses with dark, pointed roofs scattered everywhere. With little yards and smoke coming out the chimneys. Like a country in the clouds. Everything was silent and still. It was so peaceful and there was no sense of hurry. It was really beautiful in its own way. Driving along the small highway in between cities I could spot over the fields all the little towns. Every single one has a church you can spot right away, taller then the rest of the buildings with a large clock and cross. They were amazing.

I was so excited to go to Germany at this time, because its Christmas! And Christmas originates from Germany. In fact, December 6th, the day we arrived, is the national holiday for St. Nicholas. Anyways Germany is also famous for their Weihnachten Markets at this time of year. Christmas markets. Ahh they were so cool! We went to a small one in our town, then a huge one in Ulm. It was like walking into a little elf town, like a little town in the north pole. Christmas music was playing, people everywhere, tons and tons of stands full of everything you can think of, and every decoration possible. Also lots of food stands and little huts people can stand under and drink their hot chocolate or tea or whatever and just talk. All the stands are lined in Christmas lights and it just was such a fun happy atmosphere. I was so overwhelmed I didn't even know what to buy or what to do, but I was lovin it! Also this Christmas market in Ulm was right under the towns cathedral, one of the largest in Germany. It just fascinated me.. It was huge and old and just so pretty. Inside it was like an echoe huge stone chapel kind of room, with beautiful statues and bells and beautiful stain class windows. I wish my pictures turned out better... but yeah it was amazing.
Also in Ulm we visited a very old street full of typical German houses. I loved it. It had the cobble stone small rode, and a river flowing by it. The houses lined the street, or on stilts in the water, with bridges and trees and wow it was just so pretty. The houses are beautiful with all these different colors, and they all have tall pointed roofs. I'd never seen anything like it. Oh and we also saw the Danube river, the longest river in Europe that goes through all of Germany. It was.....cool. Just a river haha.

Monday was my favorite day. Thanks to me bringing it up, and thanks to Isaac for telling me about it, we went to Neuschwanstein. You know, the gigantic castle that supposedly Walt Disney based his castles on? Ya..it was...incredible. I still can't believe it. We were driving in the car and it had been a while then I looked out the window, and up in the mountains I spotted this HUGE amazing magical castle ha. I was just thinking NO WAY the whole time. Cant be real! We walked up a windy road to the bottom of it. I turned and looked over the valley below. Breath taking. There was a lake...you could see the little houses..and of course the church.. Then I turn and look up at this unbelievable castle towering over me. I bought a ticket for the English tour, and got to go through it. You aren't permitted to take pictures so sorry. But just trust me...it was absolutely amazing. Every single wall covered with murals, so many sculptures, breath taking wood work...I kept trying to picture what is was like when the King (King Ludwig II) and all the people who lived in this castle..it just seems so unreal. So that was my first castle experience. It was hard for them ( my host parents and the people we were staying with) to understand how exciting and incredible this was for me...Because they are used to amazing monuments and things like this..I just had to say you have no idea what this is like...there is nothing like this in America the new continent..so let me be crazy excited ok! And I definitely was. I can't wait to visit all the other castles and things like that around the world (because I will someday).

Also in Germany I hung out with Brigitte's niece, who is American (half American half German). She moved to Germany with her mom when she was 14 (now 20). At first her english was a bit rusty butafter a little, it and all the good American sayings came rollin in. So that was fun to talk to her and find out more about Germany's history and what people are like in Germany and the life. She was really nice and took me shopping to some of the shopping streets. I would say shopping malls but they are just long normal streets lined with stores haha so not really malls. I also asked her if we could go back to the Christmas market. I really like those...haha.

So food in Germany? Zwei grillwurst bitte, mit semf und ketchup! I can't remember exactly how it went, but Sabrina (the half American) made me order all our food in German haha. That was "2 grillwurst thanks, with mayo and ketchup. Or..yeah something along those lines. Haha wow I have never seen so many types of "hot dogs" in my LIFE! and as big! That grillwurst was like a footlong hot dog in a tiny roll in the middle haha. I just looked at it and was like what the..where do I start. But once I did start I didn't want to stop! It was sooooo good. I will never go back to Oscar Meyers again. In the grocery stores they have ISLES full of just meat and salami and hot dogs and grillwursts and whatever else they are called. It just kind of made me laugh...silly Germans and their hot dogs. But ya very yummy. And yeah their bread is pretty good too...not that the Italians would admit that. I liked the fresh croissants in the morning or fresh super pretzels. Yumm.

Well the last part of the trip was the plane ride home. Such a weird experience. Its hard to explain...I was ending my vacation....getting on the plane...and going home. Right? But wait a second... I wasn't going home. I was going back to...Italy. I don't know how much you can understand without being in my position, but it was hard! I have been away for 3 months now! I miss my home and family and friends soo extremely much. It was really hard! I had to go on and continue being away from you all! I had kind of a little homesickness breakdown on the plane...it was really tough. But after a week of cloudy Germany, and flying in to beautiful sunny Cagliari, and seeing all the palm trees and the beach side...I did get that fuzzy home feeling :) Of course nothing compared to what it would be like going to Utah, but good enough.

So that's my trip to Germany. I loved it. I can't wait to go again. Now I am here in Italy, back at school, back to this life. We have one more week of school than 2 weeks of Christmas break. YAY! I am excited to see what Italian Christmas is all about. I will tell you all about it don't worry, just takes me a little while sometimes:) I am happy, life is great, and yeah! Thanks for caring about me still even though Im miles away! Well I hope you are all enjoying the snow and your holidays! Lots of love from Italy!!

Auf weidersehem!


Monday, November 12, 2007

2 months down

Saturday, November 10th, was the two-months-in-Italy-mark.
Crazy huh? I can't even believe it. So much has changed! I now smoke two packs a day, drink everything insite, and an Italian bambino is on the way!

Of course, thats not true, but it is true a lot has changed! Like I got a hair cut. OoOooO!
So for an update..
Life has been the same old, with a few new stories. Halloween was kind of fun. It isn't that big here and not really celebrated. It has just started to come around these parts of Europe. In english class I explained to my class all the traditions. I got lots of "awww! Che figo! Bellissimo! Fortunata!" They liked it. That night I went with my friend Irene and her friends, by train, to Cagliari. We went to Angelo's house and ordered pizza. I was starving. This was the first time i have ever ordered pizza from home....so it came like 30 minutes later or what not in two big long boxes. Everyone ordered their seperate pizza, but they come all hooked in a long rectangle. It looked great. I was ready to dig in, when everyone agreed to wait for the last person to arrive. I was thinking oh dear....more waiting? Yep more waiting. One hour of more waiting. We all ate our pizzas cold...which didn't seem to be a problem for anyone else.. I was a little annoyed but oh well it still tasted good. After a few hours of talking and eating we left and walked the streets of Cagliari to a discotec where we would be spending our halloween night. Once again, we waiting about an hour maybe hour and a half to get it. It was CROWDED! Some people were dressed up but nothing special. We weren't, sadly. I wanted to. They save the good dressing up for carnival in the spring, I am so excited! But anyways. We finally got in the place, it was crowded as ever, my patience was a little thin I must admit, but I was fine in no time once I started hearing the beautiful Italian kareoke....oh dear......Nothing beats a bunch of drinking Italians singing kareoke! It was way funny. But after a while of that, it ended, and the dancing started. So that was fun. I won't tell you what time we got home...not important right? =)

The next two days we didn't have school. Holiday. I slept in.... Then we went to 2 cemeteries with the fam... to visit dead fam. The cemetaries are beautiful...always full of many people and tons of flowers. After I got home I went out with friends in the piazza. Then Friday and Saturday..normal...lunches and dinners at peoples houses... hung out with friends in town. So other things the following week....I went on a "date" haha not really a date. We just went to a cafè got drinks and I just listen to him talk for a few hours haha. Which was fine with me! I didn't understand everything hahah but just kept nodding and smiling. He was nice but I'm definatly not interested. Then I went to volleyball. Thursday I took the bus after school to Cagliari for the Italian course (which is going ridiculously by the way. Our teachers are crazy ancient retired ladies who all speak no english and have never planned a lesson yet, we don't learn anything, and its pointless for me to pay for the bus and go all the time, so I only go once in a while) like that thursday. I met up with exchange friends for lunch, shopping, then the course. Its fun to see everyone. For the most part everyone is improving lots on their Italian, some much better than others, but soon enough we will all be fluent!
Friday I woke up and a hair dresser lady was over coloring Sandra's hair. Sandra asked, do you want your hair cut or anything? And I thought for a second...then..sure! So I now have side bang things. Anyways Saturay was fun! Our school went on a fieldtrip to Nuoro, a BEAUTIFUL city in the mountains, north/center Sardegna. We all got on the bus, about 2 hour ride, then in the city we went to an art mues. It was really cool. Then we went to this park in the mountains for lunch. It was beautiful. There was a huge sculpture of Jesus on the top of this rock. It really was a beautiful park..everything was really green and the trees were so cool and the tables were all made of stone...it looked like a little village out of LOTR really. I had a nice packed lunch with bread, sandwhich, crackers and a juice smootie box haha. It was really cold up there too. After that we played some games I didn't understand then went to this old historical house. It was interesting. Then walked around the city a little then went back on the bus home. It was good to get to know everyone better and be more involved. That night was a festival in my town for S. Martino. There was a huge fire in the middle of the street. It was a smaller festival, but still alright. I went with friends and we just walked around and played a few games and such. Yesterday we had a big lunch with Irenes family...and went to the festival again. And here I am today doing my up-dating and emailing! So fun. Well thats about it with what I have done....Now some other up-dates and info.
My Italian is improving, still learning, still not perfect, but its coming along alright. I just have to stop tuning out, its really easy to do haha.
My math teacher is pregnant so we haven't had math class for the last 2 and a half weeks. They don't have subs here. Teacher doesn't come, then you just have an hour to do whatever. We have a new teacher now though...good thing I was missing math so much........
I had my first interigation. So school everyday you just have lectures and stuff in every class. There aren't many activities or varieties of teaching, just lectures and following along in the book, excersizes and worksheets here and there. And randomly, or planned, the teacher interigates students. Its like an oral test. I got an 8, which is good. I think its kind of cool..it is scary..but I can see how it has taught the students to be comfortable speaking in front of everyone, and retelling all the things they have been taught, and this is why they study so much-so they can do well on these oral exams! I think they are important and would be good for the american students.
Volleyball is good....our league games start up next weekend. I probably wont get a lot of playing time, but I am still excited!
I didn't know I would miss soccer this much, but I miss it like crazy! ok, it has been my life and for the last 9 years..but really! I live in a place all about soccer, its their culture! for the boys........ I wanna play!! I haven't played a real game on grass for like 3 or 4 months now. =(
Family life is great. No problems at all I am so happy and so lucky. A girl had to change families this last week....poor thing.
Food is good. I really like roasted chestnuts, we have those a lot. Yummmm. Now that it is winter a fire is often burning. I love it! Next time we go to a big grocery store im going to find marshmallows! They don't roast marshmallows! I have no idea who not. They will soon be addicted after I teach them the art of roasting and smore making. yuummmmyy. I'm sure I have gained weight but I don't care..every single exchange student around the world has. I do have to be carefull though...mmm nutella....
Friends are good. As I am understanding better, I am realizing who I like to be around more. Thats normal. I am happy to have friends though...a lot of the students in Cagliari only have eachother. Once again I'd say I am lucky.
Afterschool life is still boring and slow. But I have learned to accept that. So no worries.
The shopping is amazing here. But also extremely expensive so I haven't bought a lot. I wish I had a thousand euro monthly bugdget haha.
Hmm what else? OH whoever said that all Italian boys are beautiful definatly lied. The ugly smokers definatly outweigh the beautiful. They are rare. But oh well, I'm not interested, right? :)
Weather is still cold.. a bit windy lately. My school is a freezer. They all say, "oh you should be used to the cold!" My body is the same temperature as yours my friends, I still get cold haha. Plus with no snow its a different kind of cold. . If that makes sense. But summer starts in February. I think I can make it.

Well thats good enough for now I think...Again, email me if you have any specific questions! Also feel free to send me mail and packages! :D

Laurie Simkins
Via Cesare Battisti, 19
09025 Sanluri -CA- Italia

Until next time.