Uh huh. I do remember promising myself that I wasn’t going to be one of those exchange students who kept a blog then just forgot about it for months. Well, bad news…. I am. But it’s not a bad thing! In fact I’m using my excuses for not writing as an excuse to write something that I hope helps future exchangers now. To all those who are like me and promise themselves things that they will do/ keep up during their exchange year… trust me… IT DOESN’T WORK. You can’t plan your exchange year. Nothing about it. Not going to the gym, not continuing your favorite hobby, not even talking to your best friends in your home country (and certainly not keeping a blog). If giving up your best friend, or your favorite thing to do for a year sounds depressing to you, it is. All of my exchange friends and I have experienced it. For the first months here we had no idea what to do with ourselves. Everything had changed. The first month I tried living life as I had in America. I talked to my best friends from school. I kept up with news from my family. I spent my evenings and afternoons inside the house, just as I had done in America. I went to bed at 8:30 every night.
But in Italy my American lifestyle isn’t normal. People go out in the afternoons just to hang out in the streets. They meet acquaintances and make friends. They have groups of people to go out with that change. They don’t stay at home. In America my house is constantly full of my family and foreign students. There is more to do at home than outside. Before leaving I hadn’t even thought of the possibility of that. I knew it would be different, but I was stubborn and unwilling to change.
When I switched host families about a month in, I was forced to change. And I did. Not just my daily habits. I grew up a lot in the course of just a week. Had I ever thought that it would happen like that? No. That was the most immediate change that I went through here. My habits changed slowly over time too. I have done things here in Italy that I never would have done before. I started liking Italian clothing (some of it… fashion still sucks here), I spent a period of time when I went to the gym, I have been swimming at the beach. I look back to myself in America and I can’t remember who I was. And this sounds really cheesy and fake… but it’s so true. I have grown up and become Italian. I have 35 days left in Italy… and I don’t know what I am going to do when I get back. People might not recognize me. I might not recognize people. They moved the Borders out of my town. I have forgotten how to drive. They remodeled my school cafeteria. I don’t know how to speak English any more. My family has lived a year without me, but with two foreign exchange students in my place. My little brother has grown to my height. I think half in a different language and respond first in Italian before translating what I say into English. I have no vocabulary anymore (which is by the way another reason I have not been writing in my blog…. I feel like I can’t express ideas in English anymore)
Now this post isn’t the most organized, and I don’t know how much sense it will have for whoever reads it. But the bottom line is…. You can’t plan your year. You will change. You won’t want to do what you enjoyed before. You will give up your life, your friends, everything. And the best part is, it’s not the end of the world. It is a complete change in everything. And it’s cool. Only now I realize, an exchange year isn’t changing your life once… It’s changing your life twice. I’m going back to America soon. And it feels like my life is going to change all over again. We shall see.
Anyway, I’m not thinking about anything else. And everything else I am thinking about pertains to my normal boring Italian life. I don’t know what else to tell people who read this. So please, if anyone wants to know about being awesome (aka a foreign exchange student), or about Southern Italy, please ask specific questions! It’s my life now so I can’t just write a blog on nothing… tell me what you want to hear!
(also, if anyone really wants to know, I will be back in CA the 18th of July, after my NYC adventure with my friend and NYC college tour with my father… WOO!)