Albano Laziale – Roma Termini – Milano Centrale – Milano Malpensa Airport – Singapore Changi Airport – Sydney (Kingsford Smith) Airport – HOME

Italia. I miss it already. Even though there are so many things I’m looking forward to back at home, like seeing family and friends, SUMMER+not having to layer up…these short, yet two unforgettable months in Italy have probably been one of the best, if not the best time of my life.

As I write this on the plane from Milan to Singapore, our current ground speed is 1082km/h, cruising at an altitude of 10667m with an outside temperature of -42˚C.

By far the longest leg of the journey, my attempts (in vain) to re-adjust back to life in Sydney as quickly as possible by following [GMT+10] ended up in watching Suits, so now I thought I might as well take this sleepless flight hitherto in updating the shenanigans of the past few days.

The last day of school itself was paradoxically a joyous yet sad occasion. In the first sense, it’s so satisfying to think that I was able to fully integrate myself into a class of people who’d already been together and known each other really well for several years; at a local Italian ‘liceo’; entirely in Italian.

On the other hand, the fact that I was able to assimilate made it all the more harder to do everything for the last time, and say goodbye to the lovely people I’d come to know so well. We went out together as a class for my farewell party at a ‘fraschetta’… which was undoubtedly one of the best nights ever! It was SO much fun, and definitely the best way to end off my last night in Ariccia with the nicest people – LOVE.

Every day over the past two months, I think I’ve learnt something new or done something really exciting, and so for yesterday…I went for a spin in a Ferrari. Sure, might I mention here that I only just recently found out that my host family owns 6 cars, one of them being a Ferrari. It was SO cool, it was an old, almost collectible Ferrari…and we definitely got a few glances around town!

After wasting a lot of time with unnecessary bureaucracy at the post office to send off my parcel (including filling out the same form three times!) we finally left for Albano and caught the train to Termini. I think the reality of nearly being at the end of this amazing experience somewhat registered as the train slowly pulled out…oh the nostalgia!

Meeting up with the other exchanges from Australia in Milan was really cool, and over dinner at the hotel we chatted about our Italian experiences and adventures. I shared a room with Eliza for the night, and it was really nice that we could get to know each other, and just share random thoughts and memories together in Italian.  Surprisingly enough though, it was mutually agreed that at this very moment it’s easier to think and speak in Italian rather than English! Sure, we had our sporadic spurts of English words and phrases, but it was actually really fun – such an enjoyable night!

Morning of departure: From the beginning of the trip, I must say one of the moments I’d seriously been dreading was seeing the weight of my luggage on the check-in scales on return. So thanks to two months of being (very) wary and somewhat paranoid about it, in the end I only clocked in at 21kg. It was so good though, because I was somehow able to get a lot of shopping done here as well – oh yeah!

Transit in Singapore wasn’t actually too bad, party because Changi Airport is seriously one of the best airports ever. So during the few hours of waiting for our final flight back to Sydney, we ate heaps of food, went shopping, updated our social lives…and even visited the beautiful ‘butterfly garden’ inside! Running down the travelators with our trolleys (just for the sake of it, not because we were late or anything) towards our gate was SO much fun haha – and of course, done with the lovely Tessa and Christine among others.

The flight from Singapore to Sydney was SO packed but fortunately I was sitting next to good people so it was alright. I guess I didn’t previously realise how much I enjoy long aeroplane conversations with the random strangers next to you – fun times! There came a stage where there weren’t any movies left that I still wanted to watch, moderate turbulence, and a cacophony of screaming babies in the row behind…but for times like these, noise-cancelling headphones are definitely the best thing ever.

So in the end after about 30 hours of continuously being awake – I finally made it HOME. Welcome to Sydney, casa dolce casa!

xxxxxxx

Serena

[Liceo Classico Statale James Joyce – 3˚LA]

[A bit of time zone confusion – where am I?]

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Un altro giorno passa in fretta

The past two days have been absolutely incredible!

Yesterday I had school in the morning which ended an hour earlier than it usually does on weekdays – hurrah! From what I’ve gathered, it seems as though school in Italy is just generally a lot harder. While the aggregate amount of ‘school’ hours are the same (35 hours per week), the day runs continuously for 6 hours from 8:20am with only a 10 minute break in the middle. Haha surprisingly enough, I never thought I would say this but I do miss roll call, house time and even assembly!

In addition to that, the subjects you study solely depend on which liceo you attend. While you initially choose where you’d like to go, once the decision is made you can’t change schools or even classes. So even in such a linguistically dominated school, whether or not you enjoy chemistry for example, is completely irrelevant.

And then there’s the whole thing about marks (ranging from 1-10) and how they’re publicly available for everyone else to see…

So yesterday the first two hours of class were spent in an intense Latin exam, so that gave me a bit of downtime to do my own thing. Afterwards we went into the science labs to do an oxidation experiment which was pretty exciting, but just looking at the periodic table with all the elements in Italian was probably the highlight for me. Alright that sounded SO nerdy, but believe me it was actually true! Higher chemistry represent!

Philosophy to finish off the day was so confusing. I don’t think I understood anything the teacher was talking about at all, besides the names Socrates and Protagoras every now and then. But I was told afterwards that no one else seemed to understand any of it either, so it made me feel a little bit better.

In the evening, I went out with a group of about 12 of Valerio’s friends to the town centre of Genzano, another one of the neighbouring towns on the Alban Hills. It was really fun, we had dinner in a lovely restaurant aptly named ‘La Dolce Vita’ to celebrate one of his friend’s birthdays. I’m loving all of the people I meet each day, everyone’s so nice!

Just before we went home, it was so interesting that even at 12am there were still about 100 people outside crowded around two TVs watching the soccer. Just a slight taste of culture, but it’s things like this that remind me that I’m actually in Italy!

This morning, I slept in and woke up at 10am given it’s the only day off from school. Afterwards I was able to explore the local fruit shop, which are actually quite similar, yet different to the ones in Australia. Perhaps the thing I found most interesting was the fact that each type of fruit is numbered, and after you choose how much you want, you go to the scales and print out a sticker to label it (like the ones at the back of supermarkets) so when it comes to the check-out, all they have to do is scan the barcode.

The afternoon’s been pretty chillaxed, I was able to skype my whole family which was really enjoyable followed by re-listening to a Barneys sermon on Ezekiel from earlier this year, God is glorious!

xxxxxxx

Serena

[Back of the school from the classroom window]

[Local fruit shop adventures]