Departure in 48 hours

So it’s come around again. Departure in 48 hours…only this time in reverse. I guess I don’t actually get home until Friday night, but without travelling, trains, planes, hotels and transit, in exactly 48 hours I would have just boarded my train from Rome to Milan.

I’m feeling so ambivalent right now, and packing is seriously the last thing I want to do. I can’t believe how quickly the past two months have flown by, and just when everything is perfect…it’s time to say goodbye. I’ve absolutely LOVED every moment spent here, and it’s so sad to think that it’s all coming to an end in just a little while.

There are so many things I’m going to miss, like FRIENDS, the experience as a whole, the food, Italian (the language itself), just casually going to Rome, school… and even trivial things like catching different phases on Facebook based on what time it is, putting my jacket on the fourth hook from the right each morning at school, hearing the sound of an iPhone charging at the same time each night and saying ‘pronto!’ instead of ‘hello?’ when answering the phone…among so many others.

It’s all getting a bit real, tomorrow is my last day of school. The friends I’ve made are all so lovely, and it’s sad to think that I’m not going to see the people I’ve gotten to know so well for a while. But thank goodness for the Internet though, we’ll still be able to ‘chiacchieriamo insieme’ and now this gives me more leverage to start planning (and save up for) a return trip back to Italy!

Buonanotte Italia (Good morning Australia…literally!)

xxxxxxx

Serena

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Capodanno a Roma

2012 eventually arrived…happy new year!

Allora, una festa with friends from school among others was supposed to be held at home for NYE yesterday, and pretty much everything was set up and ready – however in the afternoon a few people bailed for whatever reason and subsequently the whole thing was called off. Vexing, yet as recompense I spent new year’s eve at the Colosseum in Rome.

As you’d expect, la metropolitana was packed with masses of people, but once we arrived it actually wasn’t as crowded as I’d expected. I guess the main difference was the fact that there wasn’t one centralised place where everyone gathered; rather it was just a huge celebration all around the city!

Vibe is definitely something I can’t describe adequately enough – all I can say is that the Romans know how to party! I fuochi d’artificio was spectacular, but to be honest I don’t think any city can ever rival Sydney. Given amateur fireworks are readily available from the shops everywhere, they were set off all throughout the night which was generally pretty exciting!

At midnight, we toasted spumante along with the rest of the city and once we got home, apparently it’s some sort of tradition to eat ‘cornetti’ (croissants), so in the end I went to bed after 3am. It was really fun though and a great start to the year, I’m really looking forward to 2012 and all that it brings!

xxxxxxx

Serena

Ps – as I mentioned briefly in my last post, we’re going to the mountains for a week so I won’t be able to update anything until I get back. Even though it looks so amazing, unfortunately I can’t go skiing due to restrictions with contracts, insurance and whatnot but hopefully it’ll be a relaxing time away!

[NYE ’11 at the Colosseum]

2011

I don’t think I’ve ever felt this behind the times…literally. While celebrations for the new year of 2012 have already begun around the world (it’s midnight in Sydney right now!), there’s still another ten hours to go before midnight arrives here in Rome (GMT+1). Sitting, waiting, wishing…

But besides time zones though, the timing of everything has been so perfect recently, it’s great! I should also point out the fact that today, ‘l’ultimo dell’anno’ marks my halfway point (give or take) here in Italy on exchange – 26 down, 26 to go!

Reflecting on what’s already past, the whole experience has honestly been so amazing, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed everything thus far. But I’m also really looking forward to and excited for part II – hurrah!

As a whole though, the year that’s [almost] over has been such a great year – for which I am so thankful to God for. I have the most incredible family and friends, what more could I possibly ask for?! And to anyone who’s reading this along with everyone else who has made 2011 the incredible year it’s been, thank you so much – it means so much to me!

So I’ve tied all the loose ends together; have my list of new year’s resolutions ready-to-go; calendar flipped; bags packed for a week away in the mountains and I’m all set. Now for 12am to actually arrive…tick, tick tick.

From what I can already anticipate though, 2012 is going to be another huge and memorable year with things like becoming legal and finishing high school underway! Until then though…buon anno, happy new year, bring on 2012!

xxxxxxx

Serena

[Nemi – cute little town overlooking the sea]

Una giornata bella

Today was surprisingly an extremely pleasant day! I guess it started off in a routinely fashion, but after having skyped one of the loveliest people you’ll ever meet (thanks, by the way) and going to the markets…it just got exponentially better.

So far, I’ve been to a few of the local markets and most of the stuff sold there is all pretty similar. Except for this one stall I saw at the very, very end today. It was SO exciting – and I seriously bought like the entire ‘bancarella’.

Lunch was even better than usual; but hey, I’m in Italy – it doesn’t really get much better than this anyway, and in the afternoon I went out with friends ‘in giro.’ It was a lot of fun, I ate the most AMAZING nutella crêpe in the world and just generally had a really enjoyable time. It’s been a good day!

Ci vediamo dopo!

xxxxxxx

Serena

[Mercatino di Genzano]

Firenze: the birthplace of the Renaissance

Since the last time I updated this blog, many exciting things and experiences have happened. Besides the changes in weather, I’ve been to a theatrical performance (all dialogue in Italian by the way), met the two other Australian exchange kids in the area, done a presentation on Australia – in which we may or may not have told everyone that we eat echidna, and after doing so, finish it off by using its spikes as a thrifty substitute for toothpicks haha – had a massive dinner party with unconscionable amounts of food, and finally been to Florence (with the exchange kids from Victoria!)

Again, like Rome – Florence is such a beautiful city! It was a completely new vibe with different monuments like the Ponte Vecchio over the scenic water views of the Arno River and Piazza della Signoria, but in general everywhere I go in Italy has been so amazing!

First off we explored the markets, and I finally had my first nutella crêpe in Italy! It was a bit weird though, even before we’d started speaking we’d been immediately spotted as foreigners in one of the market shops. When asked how they knew, we were told that besides obvious language hindrances and racial dissimilarities, it was our outward appearance that gave it away in terms of gestures, fashion, clothes and even the way we walk…what?! Well evidently this whole cultural immersion and integration thing only really works on a basic level haha!

We spent the most part of the day walking around and seeing the extraordinary city, but towards the end we had our highly anticipated hot chocolates in an apparently famous café on the Ponte Vecchio. Given it cost a dear 5,50 euros, it would only have made sense for it to be buonissima. Unfortunately it was anything but! It turned out to be a really bitter, dark chocolate fondue under the guise of ‘hot chocolate’, which was honestly way too intense to drink by itself. If it had come with about fifty strawberries, it would have been ideal – and that is the extent to how strong it actually was! Even though I only had a little bit, I felt a little lightheaded afterwards – and I can’t believe I’m saying this but – too much chocolate…

The three-hour roadtrip there and back was also an extremely fun part of the day. Sure, we did spent a lot of the time discussing the complexities of Italian grammar and phrases with the questions ‘come si dice..?’ and ‘che cosa significa..?’ repeated numerous times, but it was so lovely to have such enjoyable conversations about anything and everything with such a nice group of friends both Australian and Italian!

Today was a really exciting day and I definitely had a great time in Florence! Once we got back to Rome at around 11pm, it started snowing outside which was so amazing in itself! I’m absolutely loving Italy!

xxxxxxx

Serena

[Florence]

[Florentine markets]

[Piazza della Signoria]

[River Arno]

[Oh, and here’s one of me…finally!]

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]

Il primo giorno a scuola

Today was my first day at school. To be honest, I felt a bit homesick in the morning and during the first hour or so of class, simply because it was just so different to what I’ve become so used to.

Despite the fact that during my school life, I’d already done the ‘first day at school’ experience thrice, I must say that the fourth time round, I’d definitely forgotten what it’s like to be new. It’s definitely no MLC, but it is Liceo Classico Statale James Joyce.

The subjects I had today were German, French, English, Religion, Maths and Latin, each for about an hour. Bring on the languages!

German was actually pretty good, merely because the teacher was talking about Germany (I think) in Italian. In saying that, I didn’t catch heaps of it, but there was definitely something about aeroplanes, buses, food and money.

I must say, surprisingly enough English is the one subject that I found most different. Obviously, I don’t speak Italian (well enough) let alone German, French or Latin but if the same class were held in Australia, it would probably be called Ancient History instead. It was pretty much history (in English) given we learnt about the Vikings and the invasions of Early Britain.

I won’t bore you with the particulars of every subject, but in general – school is school no matter where you are in the world. In saying that, it definitely got better as the day progressed; the people are really, really nice and I made quite a few friends. The good thing about that though, is the fact that the classes stay the same and the teachers come to you which means I’ll hopefully be able to get to know the whole class soon. Funnily enough, of the 24 people in my class there are only four guys…infer what you will.

It’s been a really good day, I’m definitely enjoying school so far and look forward to tomorrow (even though it’s Saturday!)

xxxxxxx

Serena