I'm changing host families. It has been quite dramatic these past couple of days, and it has made me more stressed than I think I have ever been in my life. I am glad it's over. And I am excited to meet my new host family =). My temporary host family is awesome, it makes me wish I had told someone about my situation much sooner. So I will write here my reccomendations to future/ current exchange students who may come across my blog and find it somehow useful:
1. You are in a foreign country to learn a language. If anyone you come across is not 100% supportive of you and your efforts you have to fix it. If you want to speak the language make it clear you do. Also make it clear what your level is. I'm pretty sure my previous host family thinks I understood nothing (actually I know they think that, I read it on their facebook page. In Italian. Nice.) I should have told my assistant earlier that the host family wanted more to learn English from me than to learn Italian. It seemed like a small problem, but in the end it was big. My Italian has improved so much in the days I have spent with another family speaking Italian all day. It makes me sad thinking about how I missed three weeks of this!
2. Obey everything your host family tells you to do. This is important. But if you make a mistake because you didn't understand, you should be held accountable, but forgiven. It is not entirely your fault! The different family dynamic/ culture definatly didn't help me. But I still don't actually know for sure if I disobeyed anything, or if rules were created after the fact. But nevertheless, listening to people is important.
3. No problem is too small. If something seems a little weird to you, tell your assistant. They are happy to tell you if it's a cultural thing or a problem. Never just blame it one the culture without knowing for sure. My assistant would have been happy to help me and fix things if I just would have asked. I'm foriegn, I have an excuse for not knowing!
4. I really can't stress enough how important it is to TALK TO AFS at the very first sign of trouble. This would have saved my weeks of not being as happy with Italy as I have now realized I could have been =D.
My sad first host family story ends in drama. Being locked out for a night is not exactly fun. I will not get into that completely though. I really want to be done with these first weeks and move on to better times =). I have made such great friends here in Italy, both Italian and fellow AFSers, and I am really glad they have been there for me through this. And my languge has improved so much though being forced to explain and re-explain my sad story over and over agian in Italian. And while the subject isn't that fun, I am so glad to finally be comfortable with talking to people without feeling like a stupid American. Ok, well I still feel like a stupid American, but now I'm a stupid American who can speak Italian =).
I can't wait to meet my new host family, thier house is a lot father from my school, but as long as they are cool I think I will have a great rest of the year =). I really love Italy, I love my school, I love my classmates, I love the other AFSers, I love the language, I love the food, and I love everything! Well, maybe not Italian fashion. Or Italian mattresses. Or Italian gum. But my Italian cellphone has a flashlight on it so it's all good =D. And it is now a new month, so if Americans feel the need to skype me, choose a weekend morning/ early afternoon and let me know =).
(Also I appologize for my spelling becuase I'm using a different computer and it doesn't have a spellchecky thingy on the Internet like mine does)
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