Friday, January 25, 2013

What is Exchange?

Hey there. Since I don't have anything to update...Or I am too lazy to write about my life, I will share this little "poem" with you all. It's not mine but one of my fellow exchange students posted it and it is pretty accurate. :)

What is exchange?
Exchange is change. Rapid, brutal, beautiful, hurtful, colorful, amazing, unexpected, overwhelming and most of all constant change. Change in lifestyle, country, language, friends, parents, houses, school, simply everything.

Exchange is realizing that everything they told you beforehand is wrong, but also right in a way.

Exchange is going from thinking you know who you are, to having no idea who you are anymore to being someone new. But not entirely new. You are still the person you were before but you jumped into that ice cold lake. You know how it feels like to be on your own. Away from home, with no one you really know. And you find out that you can actually do it.

Exchange is learning to trust. Trust people, who, at first, are only names on a piece of paper, trust that they want the best for you, that they care. Trust, that you have the strength to endure a year on your own, endure a year of being apart from everything that mattered to you before. Trust that you will have friends. Trust that everything’s going to be alright. And it is seeing this trust being justified.

Exchange is thinking. All the time. About everything. Thinking about those strange costumes, the strange food, the strange language. About why you’re here and not back home. About what it’s going to be like once you come back home. How that boy is going to react when you see him again. About who’s hanging out where this weekend. At first who’s inviting you at all. And in the end where you’re supposed to go, when you’re invited to ten different things. About how everybody at home is doing. About how stupid this whole time-zone thing is. Not only because of home, but also because the TV ads for shows keep confusing you.
Thinking about what’s right and what’s wrong. About how stupid or rude you just were to someone without meaning to be. About the point of all this. About the sense of life. About who you want to be, what you want to do. And about when that English essay is due, even though you’re marks don’t count. About whether you should go home after school, or hang out at someone’s place until midnight. Someone you didn’t even know a few months ago. And about what the hell that guy just said.

Exchange is people. Those incredibly strange people, who look at you like you’re an alien. Those people who are too afraid to talk to you. And those people who actually talk to you. Those people who know your name, even though you have never met them. Those people, who tell you who to stay away from. Those people who talk about you behind your back, those people who make fun of your country. All those people, who aren’t worth your giving a damn. Those people you ignore.
And those people who invite you to their homes. Who keep you sane. Who become your friends.

Exchange is music. New music, weird music, cool music, music you will remember all your life as the soundtrack of your exchange. Music that will make you cry because all those lyrics express exactly how you feel, so far away. Music that will make you feel like you could take on the whole world. And it is music you make. With the most amazing musicians you’ve ever met. And it is site reading a thousand pages just to be part of the school band or the vocal class.

Exchange is uncomfortable. It’s feeling out of place, like a fifth wheel. It’s talking to people you don’t like. It’s trying to be nice all the time. It’s bugs.. and bears. It’s cold, freezing cold. It’s homesickness, it’s awkward silence and its feeling guilty because you didn’t talk to someone at home. Or feeling guilty because you missed something because you were talking on Skype.

Exchange is great. It’s feeling the connection between you and your host parents grow. It’s hearing your host sister asking where her sister is. It’s knowing in which cupboard the peanut butter (Nutella) is. It’s meeting people from all over the world. It’s having a place to stay in almost every country of the world. It’s getting 4 new families. One of them being a huge group of the most awesome teenagers in the world.
It’s cooking food from your home country and not messing up. It’s seeing beautiful landscapes that you never knew existed.

Exchange is exchange students. The most amazing people in the whole wide world. Those people from everywhere who know exactly how you feel and those people who become your absolute best friends even though you only see most of them 3 or 4 times during your year. The people, who take almost an hour to say their final goodbyes to each other. Those people with the jackets full of pins. All over the world.

Exchange is falling in love. With this amazing, wild, beautiful country. And with your home country.

Exchange is frustrating. Things you can’t do, things you don’t understand. Things you say, that mean the exact opposite of what you meant to say. Or even worse…

Exchange is understanding.

Exchange is unbelievable.

Exchange is not a year in your life. It’s a life in one year.

Exchange is nothing like you expected it to be, and everything you wanted it to be.

Exchange is the best year of your life so far. Without a doubt. And it’s also the worst. Without a doubt.

Exchange is something you will never forget, something that will always be a part of you. It is something no one back at home will ever truly understand.

Exchange is growing up, realizing that everybody is the same, no matter where they’re from. That there is great people and douche bags everywhere. And that it only depends on you how good or bad your day is going to be. Or the whole year.
And it is realizing that you can be on your own, that you are an independent person. Finally. And it’s trying to explain that to your parents.

Exchange is dancing in the rain for no reason, crying without a reason, laughing at the same time. It’s a turmoil of every emotion possible.

Exchange is everything. And exchange is something you can’t understand unless you’ve been through it.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Benvenuto 2013! Una Norwegese, Finlandese, e Americana


Welcome 2013! A norweigan, finnish, and american
I think I may have had the most memorable new year ever. In my life.
Okay I'll rewind a little bit before then.
On Saturday my friend Saara (the finnish girl) came from Macomer (a town an hour or two away). She is also here with AFS and we have met a few times and became better friends at the camp in October. I have a long break right now from school and I thought it might be nice to have something planned or do something fun so I thought why not invite Saara to Sassari!? 
On saturday night Saara arrived and we went to the disco together (Me, Saara, and Karoline).
Then on Sunday we did some shopping for new year's eve (dresses, shoes, nail polish, etc). We also met up with our canadian friend Sadie who is here with rotary. We wandered around centro storico (historical area with little cobblestone streets and the whole bit) and then for dinner Sadie showed us this awesome hole-in-the-wall greek place which was awesome! I've learned to love those moments in which I end up in random places meeting new people and just really feeling like a world traveler. Then we all went back to our houses and slept to "prepare ourselves for new year's".
Now I've just abandoned this post for a few days because I procrastinate too much. :(
Anyways then on the 31st we all went to Karoline's house in the evening to get ready and have dinner with Karoline's brother and his friends. We all ate together and hung out and then even danced a little bit haha. Then we (me, Saara, Karoline) noticed that it was almost midnight. So we ran upstairs to get our bags and such and then ran to the piazza so that we could celebrate the new year there. It was really  fun and amazing. I had never seen the piazza so full of people...Ever. There was a concert going on and  people lighting paper lanterns and letting them float up in space. And then the countdown came (in italian of course) and then when midnight hit everyone went crazy and popped open bottles of champagne and huge fireworks went off. It was pretty great. <3
Then we went back to Karoline's house and walked with everyone to a disco.
It was just a great weekend/new years.
First night at the disco





Midnight!! :D

Walking in centro storico

At Karoline's house for dinner

In piazza




Karoline's house



Thursday, December 27, 2012

Natale in Italia

So time for the big post about Christmas!
So once again I come to the procrastinating blog posts. I have had this window open all day and I don't know how to start writing!
So I haven't been able to take that many pictures the past few days because I left my camera at my friend's house on friday night when I slept there! I went to her house on friday because there was this ballo del liceo thing which is kind of like a "dance" for the high school students in that town. It was pretty fun. And then we had to go to school the next day after getting aprox. 1.5 hours of sleep. Yes that was just lovely. Thank god we had a shortened day. For the last hour of school we gave each other "congratulations" I guess for christmas. Basically we just ate some panettone that someone brought in and some coke and said happy christmas. It was pretty boring haha. Not to mention I was exhausted.
Then after school I went to go get my hair done and I fell asleep...While they were doing my hair. Yeah  a little too partied out...
Then I went home and slept and me and Karoline were supposed to go out again to the disco but we decided not too because we didn't have a ride and were tired anyways. (But I think we are going this Saturday!)
Then on Sunday I woke up to a strange smell in the house...And what do you know later on I figured out it was a (oh wait TWO) dead lambs that were given as a gift to my host mother. So that was a little difficult to see... I also have pictures that I will upload later. Then later we went to the shopping mall (me, my host sister and my host mom. BTW my host sister came from Torino. She is visiting for the holidays.) We got some seafood that we ate on christmas (octopus, muscles, etc.). Then we went to a bookstore and did some more shopping. After that I met up with Karoline and Mariana (a girl from Mexico who is here with rotary) to do some more shopping. Then we went to Karoline's house and made some cookies! Then at like 9 we decided to go to the circus with Mariana's host sisters! It was really fun even though I felt bad for the animals at some points... :(
These are Karoline's pictures from the circus
Then here's one of Mariana, Karoline, and me :)

So then the next day (the 24th) in the morning I went out with Karoline for a little while after lunch and I finally bought this ring that I have been looking at for ever in the big christmas tent in Sassari in the main piazza. And then I came home and here comes the bad part... I got home and suddenly I don't know what it was but everything just hit me. The fact that everything is different here (or at least feels different) for the holidays. The fact that I wasn't with my family. And the fact that everybody is doing everything at home without me...So I cried. And I cried. And I cried... And then I realized I had to pull myself together. That we would be going to the neighbors house for dinner so I had to pull myself together. And I did. And everything was fine in the end. If you're another exchange student you will understand this. If you're not, you probably won't. But things like this happen a lot. You're perfectly fine one second and then breaking down the next. This is how it is. 
So we went to the neighbors house for the dinner and it was very nice and we ate a lot and then at midnight we all had a toast and wished each other "tanti auguri" and "buon natale". 
And now I am trying to put more pictures up but it's not working! >:(
Anyways then we all exchanged gifts and then we went home. Oh I forgot to include that as part of dessert we opened these silver things that my sister brought that are apparently english and they all had paper crowns inside so we decided to wear them. xD 
My host dad and sister.
Anna Maria (neighbor)

My host parents


Dessert (typical sardinian sweets)





More pandoro.. :) Mmm



Then on the 25th the neighbors came over to our house and we were at the table for (I kid you not) like 4 hours. I was stuffed we were all stuffed and then I went out with Karoline and we went iceskating!! :D In Piazza d'Italia (the main piazza in Sassari) they put up an ice skating rink so we decided to try it out. We had a lot of fun. 

Me ice skating
Karoline ice skating
I forgot to mention that (I think it was on the 23rd) we made homemade gnocchetti! They were sooo good. I only came in for the last part but the next time we make them I will help with the whole thing and then take pictures.
The gnocchetti with ragù sauce. 


Happy holidays to everyone,

Nicole







Monday, December 17, 2012

Matricole, Usini, Natale

So today is a good day. I got to sleep in. We don't have school (yet again) today or tomorow. I am beginning to feel like I will never have a full week of school. There is always something. Whether it's a strike, some assembly of teachers, autogestione, or university students coming to "liberate" us from school one or two hours into the day.
On thursday, friday, and saturday we had "liberatio delle matricole"which is basically when the first year university students come to all the high schools in Sassari, blowing whistles, yelling, coming into classrooms, dressed up crazily and we can all leave school for the day. They are "liberating us". Yeah... I don't really get it either. But that's Italy for you. Apparently they all get drunk too. And then they go driving around the city causing chaos and being crazy college kids. And I have a video of it too but it's not uploading here. :/
Ah here's another one from the internet. It's in Italian but you can probably get the hint. 
On friday I made apple muffins because I was bored and didn't have anything else to do. And of course everyone love them and they were gone within a few days. Then yesterday I made banana bread (which they don't have here and my family has never heard of it) and that was a success too and the loaf is already over halfway gone. xD
On Saturday after the "liberatio" I went to my friend Irene's (pronounced Eee-reh-ney not Eye-reen) house along with my friend Valeria. She lives in another town called Usini. Which is really small, but adorable. It has like 2,000 inhabitants. We were supposed to go there for "La Festa Del Vino"(The festival of wine, all locally made I think) which was on Saturday but we didn't really end up participating. :( I did, however eat more than maybe I ever have in my life. xD Valeria told me that whenever she goes there she gains three kilos and now I know why. Irene's mom is an amazing cook. And she made us homemade pizza, lasagna (pasta al forno as we say), chicken, veal, salad, really good sweets, and more. We did go out on Saturday but it was before dinner and we just ended up walking around because they said we would "participate" after we went out again after dinner. But we were so full from eating all the pizza from dinner that we had to lay down for a while and then Irene's friends went to Sassari and still weren't back and we were tired so we just didn't go out again. Then on Sunday we went to Irene's volleyball game in Sassari and her dad gave me a ride home after.
At Irene's house

Me and Valeria went to a bar during the volleyball game to drink some coffee. (I'm drinking a caffè latte.)

The sign for the wine festival (Also in Sardo.)

When I got home my host mom was setting up all of the christmas things finally! So now we have our tree up, along with other christmasy things. Not to mention we've been listening to a lot of christmas music in the house (which makes me very happy) because I love christmas. :D Enjoy some of our christmas-y house.









My host dad also has been preparing this "cinghiale" (wild boar) for a few days and last night I tried it for the first and probably the last time...Lol. I've been trying a lot of new foods here and this one wasn't my favorite.

There was this huge slab of fat with i'm pretty sure hait on it that he was cutting off... Which I then found pieces of in the next picture... Not my cup of tea.


We also made more orange peels. You take the peels of oranges and save them and soak them in water for at least a day and then heat them on the stove with A LOT of sugar. Like the weight of the oranges and the weight of the sugar have to be equal. And then you put them somewhere to sit for awhile and then you have caramelized orange peels. :) I think this is an Italian thing but I don't really know for sure.

We also eat Panettone (a christmastime italian thing) which is really good and probably really unhealthy and looks like this.
It is basically a sweet bread with powdered sugar sprinkled over it

One more random thing to add! The other day my friend Valeria gave me a bracelet with little four leaf clovers made out of silk with the colors of the italian flag so that was really sweet. :)