Saturday, October 22, 2011

The First Morning Home/ The End

Starting this experience I can honestly say that when I woke up the morning of July 6th I expecting a few things to change. If someone would have told me that my life would be changed completely, I probably wouldn’t have believed them. Now August 5th, 2011 I’m crying as I write this because I want my Italia family back. Nothing in my life will ever compare to this experience and it’s beyond hard not being there waking up to every single person in the morning. Being back in Michigan right now, doesn’t feel right. I feel like I’m not even near the same person I used to be, like I’m missing a huge part of my self. I feel more homesick being back in Michigan…how is that even possible? I know it will get easier and we will all keep in contact…so that makes it a little easier.
3 Months later, It is October 22, 2011 and not one of us can say life is the same since we have been back. Most of us still left our hearts in Gagliano and nothing compares to how we lived there. There are no words other than what I have written in this blog, that could even describe or explain how amazing every single day was. Not only did I now have a family here in America but I now have family in Italy. I will be returning one day, though I have no idea when that day will be. I have realized it was hard for me to make this blog, because it made this trip really end but I love every single person I met and all of these memories and moments will stay in my heart forever.

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Last Day & Exams

We woke up on Wednesday as our last full day in Italy. We all had to finish our exams and by the time it was over we had the rest of the afternoon to pack and spend the last afternoon together. Steve came up with the great idea to write letters to each other and put them in bags so when we leave we have a bag full of letters to read. I went up to my room and started folding my clothes but it did not feel right actually packing so I left my clothes on my bed and went to walk around Gagliano with Nalda. We went up to the castle and took so many pictures of the beauty and homes.
By night time we were preparing to have a dinner outside underneath the stars with everyone for our last dinner. We all dressed up and had a lot of food made by Antonietta and we laughed, talked about memories and took a lot of pictures with each other. At the end of the night Ashurina came up with Mock Awards and presented them to all of us. All of them were so funny and we pretty much laughed the whole night until Steve came up with a few games for all of us to do. The last one was to all sit down in the area where we would always eat and we would close our eyes. The professors would tell everyone by birthday months to stand up and touch someone who made an impact on your life on the trip. With all of our eyes closed we all hugged and touched each others shoulders.
I knew when Francesca, my roommate touched me because she gave me a huge hug and I knew it was her. I almost started to cry when the game was over and we all had a few tears in our eyes. By the time we got outside we realized a few of the Italian students were leaving that night and I could not stop crying. We cried all night hugging each other a hundred times before finally watching them leave. The rest of us were planning on going to a bar but a few of us stayed behind to pack and finish everything. I went to sleep that night as my last night in Gagliano looking out my window at the stars and moon.

LAST MORNING:
The morning we all woke up, it didn't feel real that we were about to leave for the airport to Rome. All the Italian students woke up with us and helped us with our bags down to the courtyard. The minute me and Francesca walked down the stairs one last time, I lost it and not only hugged her tight but could not stop crying. It was so hard to think we might never see them for a long time.
We all got onto the bus, all crying until we fell asleep on the bus to Rome. I did not want to go home and I was jealous for the others who were able to stay for a couple of weeks after. On the way to the airport our bus broke down and we were all joking that it was a sign we should all stay in Italy!
Sadly, we made it there and began our 10 hour trip home. When we actually made it to America I just wanted to go home so the long line to get through Customs was not making it any better. I finally got home and I felt lost and empty. I stayed home that night and the next morning was the worst.\

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Friday, October 21, 2011

Closing Ceremony/Study Day

The Monday after we came back from Florence was our study day before the Closing ceremony and finals. We also watched the Italian students do their "American Slang" presentations that were very funny. Most of the American students helped each group with all the different slang words and phrases we use in America. We spent the rest of the day in class and then went off to do our own thing. Most stayed at the monastery working on our presentations for the ceremony and just spending some time together. When Tuesday came it really hit us how close the trip was coming to and end but we never talked about it. We made it to Castelvecchio with enough time to get a tour through the monastery and also to head to our favorite bar Komodo. Everyone was together Italian and American students and the ceremony began.
Me and Erika got to recite the Italian National Anthem, and embarrassingly I messed up a few words. After all of our presentations, The Italian students got certificates for finishing the TOEFL Test, and then the American students got ours for studying abroad. Mandi and Andrea made a video of everyone saying their favorite memories in English and Italian with all of our pictures in the background. I almost cried and it really hit me what was happening. We spent the rest of the night eating and talking and some went back to the Komodo Bar, while most went back to the Monastery to study for finals the next day. 

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Sunday, October 16, 2011

FLORENCE DUE!

When we woke up the next morning, we packed all of our things and got ready to go out and finish shopping. We stopped to get Gelato and found a vendor area with about 20 vendors. They had all neat things like souvenirs, tshirts, purses, a lot of cute items. We walked all around Florence taking pictures and really enjoying the buildings that surrounded us. We came back to the hotel and me and Nalda started talking to Enzo's grandma who was beyond the sweetest woman. We talked for a good hour and before we realized it, it was time to leave and go to our bus. We walked a long way and finally found our bus for the long trip home.
It was probably a great way to end everything because this trip was more relaxed and easy going compared to Pompei and Rome. We got to spend a lot of time together and on our own and It was really special!! The ride home took forever but we all laughed, watched movies, and slept most of the ride back.

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Saturday, October 15, 2011

FLORENCE!

The minute we got to Florence we were hit with beauty. Sadly our bus would not be allowed to take us to our hotel so we walked and brought all of our stuff to the hotel. Me, Nalda, and Angela left the group to go to our appointment at a salon a few blocks away. I got my hair styled and cut in Florence, how cool is that?
After, we went to a lunch at a restaurant and then walked around going shopping and to see the statue of David. Although we were not allowed to take pictures I took a picture of David!
We continued shopping when we ran into Romina and Dante, we went to dinner and made plans to go to the discoteca. Sadly, we did not know how far the club was so we ended up going to the bar with the rest of the crew which was really fun. We drank the whole night just talking and laughing and enjoying the time together.

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Karaoke/Castelvecchio

For the next couple of nights we just spent all of our time together going to the bar to see Giuseppe or to Komodo Bar in Castelvecchio. We also spent the next night drinking wine and having a karaoke night. We sang Italian songs, American songs and just danced the whole night! I was a great night spending time with each other knowing that the end of the trip was coming soon.
Ashurina and a few others came up with the best plan to create an American Breakfast we would cook for everyone for dinner. We made potatoes, eggs, pancakes, and a lot of fruit. It was so delicious and amazing that I was part of making something for everyone!

The Friday before we left for Florence, we learned how to make Gnocci and we lost two Italian students. Davide and Michele were the first ones to leave and I think that's when it really hit us that this trip was close to being over. Making the gnocci was really fun to learn and interesting to see how it was actually made. We ate that for dinner and we watched an Italian movie that night and got our bags prepared for our trip to Florence!

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Monday, September 19, 2011

Vittorito Wine Tasting

The Wednesday after we had arrosticini we went to Vittorito to a Winery were we got to try about 6 types of wine. We first got a tour of the place where they store the wine and bottle it. After trying each glass of wine plus had some amazing olive oil and bread most of us bought a lot of the wine. A couple students bought 3-6 bottles when others like me only bought 2.

My two bottles were only 9 Euros together and I also bought some olive oil. We all talked and enjoyed each others company until we left to go eat at a Pizzeria. We were all a little....tipsy but It was fun to spend some time together with all the students, American and Italian.

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Monday, September 5, 2011

Arrosticini

The Monday after we went to Rome was a relaxing one...NOT. We had an exam and after that we fell into our routines of taking naps, walking around Gagliano or going down to the bar. That night was a little different though. The Italian students decided to make us Arrosticini which is like a lamb kabob. All day we watched them bring out the grill they cook it on which is this skinny but long grill and they would lay the arrosticini all the way down.
It was delicious and a great way to get to enjoy the time left with all of the American and Italian students!


The night after we had a Karaoke night which was filled with all types of American songs and Italian songs that we sang our lungs out. It was so much fun and probably the wine added a little bit more fun to the situation!

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Monday, August 29, 2011

ROME! Due

Once we sat down we were approached by this nerdy quiet looking waiter, what bad could happen? Little did we realize these guys were about to make our night one we will never forget! After we ordered, our waiter and two other guys, one young and another guy a little older came over and started flirting with us. The older man was touching Lauren's face, and kept kissing my cheek and giving my shoulder massages. This was very creepy but at the same time very funny. Before I knew it he was pulling me out of my seat to stand up. He asked me to kiss his cheek and I said no, then he moved his face and once I put my hand over my mouth, he kissed my hand! We were all laughing so hard and sadly, my friend Nalda got it all on video. Then the waiters asked us to get drinks with them, but instead we walked around Rome and found our way back to the hotel.
By the morning we were off. Me and Nalda met up with Francesca and Steve and got to see everything we missed the day before. We went to the Trevi Fountain, The Spanish Steps, and the Colosseum. I will never be able to forget the Spanish steps because when we were walking down the side steps my foot slipped and I fell down two stairs and landed right on my tailbone. It hurt so bad but I kept walking on hoping it wouldn't hurt so bad. We reached the Colosseum so we could meet with the boys to go to our train station. Right when we walked up the boys were saying that our train station was on fire. At first we thought they were kidding but they were right and we had to find another way to get all the way back to Sulmona.
After subway and bus rides we finally made it back and I was never that happy to jump into my bed! Rome was amazing though I wish we could have spent a couple extra days there but I got to see everything I could have ever wanted to see! 

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

ROME!

Out of all the trips on the weekends...I must say Rome was probably the most interesting. When I say interesting I mean trains burning, old man kissing, tipsy hotel scheduling, two day madness. Now the trip itself is normally just a day long, but after Napoli there was no way we could see Rome in a day, let alone the Vatican. So we all split up into groups and tried getting hotel rooms. The boys got an apartment for the night and the girls split up into two and got two rooms each. We had to wake up to leave at 6:30am so almost all of us slept the entire trip to Rome, like we always do. By the time we got to Rome, it was cloudy and sprinkling a little but the minute we got off the bus we have already seen the Colosseum and about 10 feet from the Vatican.
My group which was Britta, Lynn, Emma, and Nalda decided to go check in our hotels and drop our bags off. At that moment we realized we actually booked two different rooms in two completely different hotels. We made due and it was good they weren't too far from each other.
Since our Vatican museum ticket wasn't until 1:30pm we walked around Rome looking at shops and stopped to get pizza at a restaurant. Probably the best pizza and from that moment on the weather was perfect; no rain, just sunshine. By the time we got to the Vatican, we went inside to see the beautiful artwork and wall paintings that were breathe taking. We found some Rosaries before we got close to the Sistine Chapel that were a very good price so I got two beautiful rosaries with the girls who got the same. Once we stepped foot into the Sistine Chapel we were almost in tears from the beautiful ceiling and walls surrounding us. It was beyond amazing.
Once we left the Vatican after a couple hours we made our way to St. Peter's Basilica which was a beautiful area with fountains and it was just peaceful. There wasn't a lot of people so we got to take some beautiful pictures and went right through to the church without any lines. To be honest this was probably the best part of the entire day because the inside of the church is beyond breathe taking. We got to pray and look at the beautiful construction of the building. We spent at least an hour in there taking pictures and just taking in everything. By the time we left we just wanted to relax and enjoy the rest of the night in Rome. 

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We stopped at a area near the Castle of Saint Angelo to watch a performer play his guitar. Britta was in love, so it was nice to just sit and listen to music as we watched the sky get a little darker. Once we continued walking we found ourselves in a little area full of vendors and cute souvenirs. I also finally found the wish bracelets we were trying to find for almost the whole trip! By the time we were leaving it was almost completely dark and we wanted to eat. We came across this restaurant that wasn't expensive so we sat down. Little did we realize we sat down for a night we wouldn't forget.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

L'Aquila

After the night where it rained and we danced, we had to drag ourselves out of bed and wake up for classes. As much as we hate and complain about waking up and how much we want to go to sleep early the next night....It never happens. We talk at lunch and say I will go to sleep at midnight...and we will instead go to sleep at 2am.
Sadly we were supposed to go to L'Aguila on Wednesday but couldn't because the ITA 1010 class had their midterm. So on Thursday after classes and our delicious lunch, we got the chance to go to L'Aquila. L'Aquila is where all the Italian students are from. Most students went on a bus at 4pm and got to take a tour of where the earth quake hit two years ago. Then a few of us went later because we wanted to study for an exam the next it. We drove with the Italian students and it was devastating to see the damage and hear the Italian students talk about what they lost.
After the tour we all met up in this one area where there was a pizzeria and a couple bars. We ate together and then drank a little talking to everyone and even meeting some of the Italian's friends.
Before we were about to go, Francesca took me and a couple others to walk around and show the area we were in. It hurt me to see how everything changed from the earthquake. You could see buildings tilted and only standing because of bars holding them up. We even saw a home that wasn't a home anymore. We even went to her school and her church and the whole experience made me realize how horrible it would have been if this was me. By the time we left it was around midnight, but it was probably another good night where we got to bond and spend time with each other.

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Monday, August 1, 2011

Dancing in the Rain

On Tuesday, July 26th we had our normal class times in the morning and then went to Castelvecchio and had some drinks with the Italian students and some of us. I had my first Sex on the Beach drink which was only 3 euros. It was really good surprisingly. Once dinner came around, me and Nalda went to the Italian's kitchen that was separate from ours and watched them make dinner. There was one thing that I loved which was this cheesy mushroom thing and fried zucchini in olive oil. It was so so good that it I didn't even care that I was full from our own dinner. Julia is going to give me the recipe so I can make it when I go home, but I doubt it will be just as good as it is here.
After we ate with them, Raffaele's Birthday was that day and we had tiramis├╣ and champagne. Then it felt like the whole table was full of Wine, Champagne, and a little vodka. We were supposed to watch one of the movies the Film class was showing but instead we hooked up a laptop to the speakers and the professors started dancing. Before we knew it we were all dancing with each other for hours until it started raining. Some people left but almost all of us kept dancing and taught some of the Italian students how to dance. It was so much fun and probably the best night so far, because we really got to bond together and enjoy a crazy and fun night together. The only thing that was bad about that night was getting soaking wet and having to wake up the next morning! 

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