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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Routines

7:00am – first alarm goes off.

7:15am – second alarm goes off.

7:30am – third alarm goes off.

7:45am – fourth alarm goes off.

8:00am – fifth and final alarm goes off.

If I haven’t already mentioned, school starts at 8:20am – so somehow within 20 minutes I manage to get up, get dressed and do all that, have an hugely delicious breakfast and walk to school. It’s incredible, I don’t know how I manage to pull it off but it works every time, every single day.

I guess this week, the fact that I’m now so immersed into the daily routines of life here became blantantly apparent to me – but also the fact that in just over two weeks I’ll be back at home in Sydney again. Although somewhat masked, I’m already feeling as though I don’t want to leave this place. Everything is just going so, so well, and disrupting that would just be inopportune. The past month+ has been absolutely amazing, and I’ve honestly thoroughly enjoyed every single moment of it.

Alright, so two weeks isn’t exactly a legitimate time to get all sentimental…but it’s not entirely unsolicited given my train ticket from Rome to Milan arrived today by courier. Which brings me to the next thing: my care-package sent from the fam. I still have no idea where it is, or what happened to it, but it should have arrived a good four weeks ago…?

I know the Italian mail system is notoriously reputed especially towards the south, but Mel’s Christmas card arrived yesterday (thanks Mel!) so it can’t all be terrible?

Anyways, in other news today was a great day at school – the feeling you get when you’re able to surpass the goal of continuously hitting 30 shots in volano (with one of the nicest people)…yes!

xxxxxxx

Serena

[Speaking of postage, I love how ‘post’ is spelt ‘poste’ in Italiano, just sayin’]

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]

Flight SQ 378 – departure 2330, expected arrival 0545

[Written on the plane by the way]

I write this as we are currently passing over Afghanistan having already covered 5526km since take-off at Singapore. Having just woken up from 6 hours of sleep (yay!), right now I’m not too sure what I should do with myself…should I watch a movie? Try and get some more sleep?

From what I can make of the night sky and the contours of flight path though, directly below me is endless expanses of mountainous region, it actually  looks incredible from my window seat! And…it’s Afghanistan, how amazing is that?!

So it’s 9:10am Sydney time. 11:10pm (yesterday) in Rome. With 4949km to go hopefully within 6:10 hours, there’s really not much happening on this plane, maybe 1 or 2 other passengers are awake. Although to pass time I do have anecdote to share. Honestly it’s not that interesting but I might as well…

It’s the story of the person you so happen to be sitting next to on the plane. On every flight, there’s always an overbearing, demanding passenger. So guess who I’m sitting next to this time?

Fortunately there’s an empty seat between us from the window/aisle arrangement, but as I semi-dozed off just after takeoff, I was very surprised, in the least, to find that this co-passenger had decided to sprawl out everywhere over the two seats. On my jumper. With the head literally about 5cm away from my armrest. Ah it was actually pretty scary when I first woke up cause I wasn’t expecting it at all!

And about 5 minutes ago, after I’d waited for the said to vacate the bathroom only after approximately 10 minutes, I came back to find that my blanket’s now gone too. Oh brilliant.

But it’s fine, I’ll be okay. This is all part of the journey one must experience in traveling alone. I guess for me, the hardest thing was saying goodbye in Sydney and letting myself go emotionally. Physically though, it’s all pretty easy: you check-in, you clear customs, you clear security (although in saying that every time I still get a bit freaked out!), you make your way to the boarding gate, you check out all the shops on the way (or you sit there and wait for ages), you board, you chill/eat/sleep, you get off, you find your connecting flight, the cycle repeats itself…

Alright I should probably go, sorry for the extremely loquacious post! Hope everyone’s well, I’m definitely thinking of you all back in Sydney, or wherever you may be!

xxxxxxx

Serena

Ps Kim it was so lovely to speak to you yesterday before boarding, thanks for calling!

3 hours later…again, I have nothing to do so I might as well.

Okay I couldn’t help but notice the fact that right now I’m passing over Georgia, another place in which the only real connection I have with it was hearing about it on the news a few years ago. Amidst the seemingly interminable night sky, there are patches of brightly lit areas at evenly spaced intervals. Don’t exactly know what they are, but it would be interesting to find out… Ciao for now!

Sent from my iPhone

[Sunset from my window seat]