Monday, September 27, 2010

Alberobello, Pizza, and a Strange Thing Called "Autumn"

Yesterday we went to Alberobello, a small town near Martina famous for it's trulli. In Alberobello they were having a celebration for the Saint of the town (no, I don't know the name of the saint, I wasn't paying attention to that, just how pretty the town was =D). We walked through the historic center or the town and literally every single building was a trullo! I think Martina Franca is quite beautiful, but Alberobello is amazing! And I just realized I should probably explain what trulli are =). They are round pointy old building thingys. Sounds awesome, yes? Haha, I'd better post a picture XD
This is me and some trulli. Now imagine them everywhere in a giant valley like thingy. It is quite pretty. But that actually wasn't the best part of the day =).

That night we went to my host dad's sister's house in the "country side" (I say that with quotations because it is quite near the town, I think country side just means they have a house instead of an apartment, in America it would just be considered a different neighborhood). And it has a pizza oven!!!!! Like one of those big firey ones! I think this description is also lacking so I will put a picture here too.
The man it my host dad's sister's husband. And they make the best pizza I have ever tasted! Well, I've only had two pizzas since I got here, and both have been billions of times better than pizza hut, but these pizzas were amazing nevertheless =). I ate the potato pizza, with potatoes and a little cheese, and the tomato pizza with little cut tomatoes sticking up all over it. Yummy =). And I will also have everyone know that here in Italy they put tuna on their pizzas. And not only tuna, it must be a tuna, onion, and caper pizza. I did not try this one because first of all, it was tuna pizza and second of all, I'm pretty sure my breath would have stank for days. I'm not sure they didn't make this pizza just for the purpose of making one's breath repulsive. But anyway, awesome pizza.

My school is (from what I hear) typical Italian, meaning amazingly boring. It makes me want to stare out the window at the laundry drying on our balcony. Seriously. I miss my clothes dryer =(. Anyway, I joined a whole bunch of other classes since the first day, and I love them all (needless to say, I'm talking about the people in the classes, not the actual lesson its self. I'm not crazy). And the good news is, my Italian is getting better and I could probably understand a class in Italian if a teacher decided to speak clearly and loudly. Like that's ever gonna happen XD. 

But I can say really simple things in Italian without thinking now. However the trouble is when I actually need to say something it is usually something I don't know how to say. So everyone thinks I don't speak/ understand them when they speak and will either think it's better to try and speak to me in very,very broken English or extremelyyyyyyyyyy slow Italian. Like patronizingly slow. AFS volunteers tend to go with the patronizing option. Even after I tell them I have studied Italian for five months (in Italian! with correct verb tenses!) they continue like this. Quite annoying. Aw well, they are the ones sounding stupid when they do it. And I can't really tell whether people are speaking English to me or not anymore. People ask me how much Italian I speak with my host family and I really don't know, I understand it all so what does it matter?

It is also getting cold here. Am I the only one who thought "Seasons" were a myth??? This "Fall" thing is really weird. And I need to buy a sweatshirt. For less than $80 preferably (everything is incredibly expensive here!). And a winter coat. And a scarf. And gloves. And thick pajamas (didn't know thick pajamas existed until last night, I thought people in cold places just put on more blankets and were fine in winter). And anything else cold people wear. Soon, because I'm already a cold person. 

Anyway, Italy is awsome. That is all I have to say.

Monday, September 20, 2010


Today was my first day of school, and it was awesome! I got there in the morning and chose the classes with the English teacher of my class, and (hopefully!) I will take:

English (I hope I do well in this, if I don't I think people will think I am the stupidest American ever)
Italian (I have no idea what I will do, because they are reading hard books, and I still forget the letters of the alphabet sometimes)
German (Hehe, the first year, with first year linguistic address students. I think it is easier to learn at the same time as Italian than French)
PE (Not happy about this, I better get credit in America)
History (I told the teacher that I would like to take Italian history, but I may take American History if the offer it because that is what America is doing now)
Geography (Because I'm still a stupid American who doesn't know that Africa isn't a country)

So after I chose those classes, my English teacher introduced me to a few more teachers and then showed me to my class, a third year classico (they learn Latin and Greek), and they we really happy to see me, the English teacher had told them I was coming, and they had brought some pastries and a mousse cake to school for me!!!! They were sooooo good! And I was so happy that my class was that excited to see me! My class is really crazy, so I think I will fit in well =D.

I entered class at the hour that they were supposed to be doing PE, so the PE teacher tried to make us eat quickly so we could go to the gym. The teacher told us to play outside so the girls in my class went outside with me and we decided it was too cold so we sat in the locker room and talked the entire time. And apparently this is entirely normal here. I like it =D.

Then the next hour was time for German! My class doesn't learn German so I moved to another class of 1st year students who were having their second German lesson. At first my German teacher introduced me and asked who knew English and everyone was silent and looked away. So the teacher asked me to introduce myself. I said "Mi chiamo Emily. Sono di California." When I said the word "California" the entire room got loud suddenly and everyone started moving over to make room for me. It was quite funny. What would I have done if I was from another state? I have no clue XD. But I ended up sitting between two very nice girls who helped me with the pronunciation chart (Italian equivalents to German sounds make no sense to me =D). And when I spoke in German (all I said was "Ich bin Emily" the German teacher looked at me funny and asked if I had studied German before. She thought my pronunciation was perfect! Haha, she should talk to all the German people I know who laugh when I try to pronounce words! Also good, I understood everything the teacher said, didn't forget that "w" is actually a "v" and even though most of the class had been studying English for 8 years (and most are only 13!) they all spoke English with me (except when I didn't know the word for "paint")!

Then for the last class of the day I was back in my class, but it was chemistry. They were learning about measurements and I told the teacher that I wasn't going to be in the class for a grade and she said I could just listen and that was all. The words were so different, I think I would have understood in English, but I really didn't understand anything! Towards the end of the lesson (very boring, I sat there and stared at the teacher and my classmate's notes) she asked me if I understood everything she had written on the board, she didn't speak English and wanted someone to explain it to me in English, so I just said yes because next week I won't be in her class at that time, so it didn't matter anyway.

I got to leave an hour earlier than the rest of my class so I could go home at the same time as my host sister, they were jealous I think XD. But I talked with them in Italian for a bit before I left (which I am very happy about =D). And then I left. I think I will enjoy this year! My classmates seem really fun and they all want to help me which I am very glad for! And they like to speak Italian with me and when I don't understand they translate. I'm quite happy =D.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


My American dad messaged me some questions to answer, and (a few XD) seem like good questions that people might want to know so I'm answering them here:

1. Do all the houses in your town look like rocket ships like they do in the pictures?
Uhhhh.... no. The houses look like apartment buildings with cool balconies. I haven't seen any rocket ships so far.

2. Are you really living in a hotel like Zach and Cody?
No, like I said, apartment building.

3. What's the funniest thing you've seen in Italy so far?

I've seen a lot of cool things, not really funny though. Like my host mom's mixer, it's like half blender, half mixer, and half cooker. We mixed and apple cake in it and it has a timer, a speed number setting, and even heat setting if you wanted to cook something in it, quite amazing. And then for some truly funny things, read number 7.

4. Does your bathroom have a bidet in it? Have you used it yet? Is it as good as Agnese says it is?

Of course the bathroom has a bidet in it! I'm in Italy, duh. Well, the bathroom I use when other people are in the normal one doesn't have one, but I'm American it's ok. No, I haven't used it, like I said, I'm American. Sorry Agnese.

5. WHO TOOK THE NUTELLA? (ok I know you actually didn't but I figured it might be funny in the blog if you mentioned these were the questions your dad was asking)
I did. And it was yummy. And yes I did mention you asked the questions. Haha.

6. What's the best Italian food you've had so far?
My host mom made me gnocchi! We got it at a place where they make it fresh every day, yummy!!!! And also her minestrone soup and her blended vegetable soup were awesome!

7. Are the Italian drivers totally crazy?
Oh yes! They speed up at stop signs, constantly swerve around people, never look behind them when someone is coming, honk at others constantly, and even with all of this, no one wears seatbelts! I do of course, I would rather not die. Oh, and I haven't even talked about Italian parking! There is one rule: as long as a very tiny car can pass through the road still you may park anywhere. That includes parking people in, parking on the sidewalk, having your car be touching one in front of or behind it, parking diagonally when all others are parked straight, and parking on the crosswalks. My host sister said this is because there are no traffic police in small cities, but it is way crazy anyway =D.

8. Did you get a chance to see the Pope when you were in Rome?

No =(, I wasn't even in Rome, I was like an hour outside and I didn't see anything famous. But it's ok because my town is probably much more beautiful anyway, when I remember to take pictures of it I will post them on Facebook =).

9. Is the Nutella better in Italy?

Actually, yes it is. It is a little more hazelnutty that in the US, which makes it yummier =D.

Anyway, this afternoon I am going out again so I think I'll take some pictures of the crazy parking and the pretty places, today was the first day of school for most people so the squares were quite crowded. I've taken a nap since then so I'll see if they still are when I go out =). It's really amazing here!!!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Ciao Italia!

I'm finally in Italy! After 6 hours on a plane to NY, an incredibly boring orientation there, 8 hours to Zurich, and 2 more hours to Rome where I had another incredibly boring orientation (well... it was ok since I met so many amazing international people!). Then the group going to Taranto was informed that we would be the lucky ones to get up at 4 in the morning so we could go to the bus station where we would ride the bus to meet our families. That was at 10 at night already. I think my first 3 days in Italy I had about 10 hours of sleep total.

Anyway, we had a 6 hour bus ride to Taranto where I slept a lot and talked a lot more, and when we arrived in the bus station I looked around for my family and they were waiting for me, and I was so happy top meet them! The were really excited too, and they took me in their car (on very fast, very unpoliced roads) to Martina Franca! We live in a 3 bedroom apartment and I share a room with my host sister, and my host mom is so nice, she has been cleaning the extra bathroom so I can have my own. She made us lunch and whenever she accidentally tried to serve me red meat (I have decided I can try chicken and turkey here, but I think I haven't eaten meat in a long time so I will be sick, and anyway red meat is disgusting)she was very sorry and tried to feed me 5 times more than she was originally giving me. Haha, I don't eat very much anyway so I hope she is not worried about me =). After that I unpacked and gave them the gifts I brought, one being a really beautiful abalone shell from my uncle's yard, and they were so excited for it and showed me their large shells collection! I messaged my parents and wrote in my journal and then I lay down for a few minutes and ended up sleeping for 2 hours!

When I woke up my host sister showed me the historic center of the town, and it is AMAZING!!!!!! I can't even describe how beautiful it is! The architecture is amazing! And it is so pretty! I don't have any pictures, but next time I go I will take pictures and post then all on Facebook. It is all really old and wonderful, there is really nothing like it in America and it is just a part of the daily life here. I am so excited to live here! And the rest of the city isn't bad either, it is really like a city with apartment buildings everywhere and store fronts on the first floor. We went to my school today and saw some teachers and my hosting coordinator, I think it is a good school and it is very close to our house. They said I would start a couple of days after school starts on Wednesday. I am going to attend the Linguistic part of it, so cool!

After that we walked around the normal part of the city again and I saw some of my host sister's favorite parks which are really beautiful too =). They speak mostly to me in english and then speak to other people in Italian and don't realize I have understood, I am trying to answer in Italian but I can't think to form sentences, my brain is to tired. But it is quite funny to sit there and be introduced and then have people explain to you that you were just introduced. Oh well. They'll see what I understand and what I don't eventually. It is going well though and I feel like I am understanding more, I need to try harder to make real sentences though, not just one or two words, it make me sound stupid I think XD.

And now my host mom is going to make us some lunch, the house smells really good from it so I'm excited. I've already eaten some Italian pizza (my host sister said it was bad, but it is so much better then pizza hut!) and some gelato (from our freezer, half of it is filled with it =D). I miss everyone in America, but I'm really liking Italy now!

Friday, September 3, 2010


Only four more days.

I have my visa now.

There is still so much to do, so much to pack, and so many people to say goodbye to. But I want to just skip all that and be in Italy now! I've got to actually start packing, all I have is a suitcase full of gifts, and thing(s) I'm not using right now (one jacket, nice). I guess I should start to put everything else in, but 4 days...

All I really need to do (besides the packing of course)is eat Mexican food. And sushi. And pet my dogs. The three best things in the world that I will not be able to bring to Italy with me (because CA Mexican food is the best, there is no mochi ice cream in Italy, well Venice at least, and my dogs don't fit in my suitcase). So sad.

My Italian is getting much better and for the first time I feel like with in a week (or a couple of days, I have no clue) I might be able to communicate! For now, I spend my time walking around my house having conversations with my dogs in Italian (I swear they understand me! They must be Italian. Figures, both of them love cheese XD).

It is so weird that everyone is in school right now and I'm just at home. I met my friends for lunch the other day and I was the only one walking in the wrong direction (back towards the car, not the school) when the bell was supposed to ring. It's strange, I get weird looks when I go out shopping in the middle of the day, like "Aren't you supposed to be in school?". No. I'm going to Italy. Woah.

But, really, I need to finish up with America right now because I'm dying to start on Italy! Four days, and I can't tell whether they are going to fast or too slow! And it's not helping that I've been too excited to sleep for the past few nights =(.

I'm hoping the next blog post I write will be when I'm in Italy, so until the early middle of September, CIAO!!!