Sunday, November 5, 2017

#33 Packing back and Post Scriptum

Contents of this post: a guide to try to help future exchange students packing for going back home.

Actual contents: a desperate try to explain how you should plan your luggage, when in reality I'm freaking out figuring it out myself.

Plan: I'm flying with Lufthansa so my carry on has to be 8 kg (they never check so even 9 or 10 it's fine) and a big luggage of 23 kg. I decided to bring a second luggage because it's cheaper than shipping stuff to Italy.


Packing is always easy to put off until a few days before (cough...the night before) leaving. When I left Italy ten months ago packing has been so much easier. The week before I wrote a list of everything I had to take and the day before leaving I put everything in my suitcase and I was pretty much done.

Well I'm finding out that packing all up again it's not as easy as I thought it would be.

I bought another suitcase, a duffel bag to be precise, on amazon at a really good price (link below and price may vary). It's 33 inches long, which is the max possible in order to not pay any extra fees; it looks really big, but I suspect it won't be enough. Obviously.

Fun Fact: I started the carry on luggage, I filled just one side of it, then I tried to lift it and felt that was already heavy. I decided to weight it just to was 7.9 kg....out of 8...just one side of it 😶 Yeah I need to do some more organizing.

Know that you are going to need more vacuum bags that the ones you came with, and if you didn't use them I really don't know how you did it.

If your parents are coming to get you and then you're flying out together I really advice you to consider asking them to come with a almost empty bag or an extra bag for you to fill, so that you don't have to pay additional fees for the second luggage at the check-in.

Hope you have a safe flight back to where you came from 💞 and don't hesitate to contact me if you're curious about anything.

P.S. I'm posting this now...and IT'S SEPTEMBER guys...I'm sorry but my life has been so extremely busy since I got back in Italy.

School has started, volleyball season has started but I'm still figuring out how to put the new and old pieces together again.

P.P.S. I decided to carry on with my blog and keep posting about what happened when I was back and what's happening now and what am I going to do with "this experience in my pocket"!!

I miss my host family ssssso much ✈✈

Friday, June 2, 2017

#32 Trips and Tales

Welcome back on my Blog ♡

A three days weekend trip in Southern Oregon.
The two coolest host parents in the world, six little children, three teenagers exchange students, a big white van, a lot of love and happiness and let's hit the roaaaaaaad at 8:30am......hours later......"So are we leaving or not? What time is it?"

First of all I have to say that we (my hfamily and Chiara with us too) were supposed to go to some friends house for the nights, but it turned out that they were sick and since we really wanted to go anyway, we decided to camp in their yard. Easy peasy. So Friday we packed everything we needed up, tends and sleeping bags included, and.... I was struggling putting together my bag for a three days trip...which is pretty funny if you think that I have to pack EVERYTHING in a week. EVERYTHING.
Anyway, Saturday morning at 9am we were all ready to go with blankets and pillows and a very much filled van. We went get coffee and then we took the highway to drive down there. Twenty minutes later I noticed that I had forgotten my toothbrush, my teeth-brace and staffs like that, so we came back home (bless my hmom) and then hit the road again, this time really determined to leave.
After hours of stops and lovely children gently screaming and arguing in the car we got to Medford, the Dutch Bros store where we wanted to go (the only one that exists in the whooole world) was obviously closed during the weekend and on Memorial Day too, so we sadly changed our plans and decided to go to a park so that the children could play around for a bit and we could rest. After that we stopped at Walmart, where I found some super cool pair of bluish slippers for 98cents (very happy with this price), and then we went to In & Out for dinner, sorry but I really don't get why everybody think it's so good, I mean it's worthy to go there at least once to say that you've been there, but other than my opinion nothing special.
Finally at 9pm we got to the friends' farm, set up the tend, a big big pretty red tend, laid out our blankets and Chiara stayed to until like midnight watching the stars. What a sight, out in the country with almost no lights bothering the splendid vision of the starlit night sky.
Basically I slept maybe three hours that night, we didn't really have time to set the "sleeping area" up in a decent way, it was so hard and we were so cold. We three girls were at one end of the tend and even if we were really close to each other we were still freezing.
That day we drove to the Redwood forest and it was really really worthy, those big sequoias were amazing and then we also stopped at the "Welcome in California" sign! Luckily I brought my instax camera along so I took a lot of pictures. In the evening, back at the farm, me and the girls helped Nancy to cook dinner for 20 people. I'll leave a picture of the big table down below.
The next day, after a way more comfortable night thanks to extra blankets, it was time to drive back home, but not without passing to Crater lake first 😍😍
I have to say that was one of the best landscape I have ever seen in my life, just breathtaking. And it was in the mountains, so even better. Yes I miss my mountains a loooot.

P.S. I was nominated among the female athletes of the year, I didn't even know what it was until everyone started to congratulate me. I'm so happy and it's been such an honor!

Bye guys, love you all 💙💙

Friday, May 19, 2017

#31 Exchange Student Tag

Hi guys! I've decided to do this tag so you can get to know me and my adventure a bit better.

❤ What is your name, age, nationality and company?
I'm Emma, I'm 17 (18 next month), I'm from Italy. My Italian travel organization is WEP and my American one is CHI. I give you the links if you are interested in taking a look at their websites.

❤ Where are you living your exchange year?
I'm currently in the United States, in the city of Salem in the state of Oregon, on the west coast.

❤ Why did you decide to be an exchange student?
There were always some exchange students in my Italian high school from different places every year and I always admired them just for being there. Two years ago I met this Austrian girl and she told me the name of her organization so I did some researches, read a loooot of blogs, spoken with a loooot of people, did a loooot of things and here I am. I needed to do this to go beyond my limits and experience something new, and I can promise you it's completely worthwhile.

❤ What did you think when you first stepped out of the plane?
I think I already mentioned it in another post, but anyway, once I stepped out of the plane my only thought was to find my luggage. You should know that before departing I had all the plans in my mind about what to do at the airport, so as soon as I walked out of the plane my mind was set with "Find your luggage and then find your family". It probably sounds crazy but I wasn't ready to see them before my luggage.

❤ What is the weirdest thing you have tasted so far?
It might sound banal but I have to say that the weirdest thing for me was pineapple pizza. You have to understand that as a small, innocent Italian I had just heard about this myth of pineapple on my beloved pizza. Well, after almost 10 months in the U.S....I like it. Yes I actually really enjoy pineapple on pizza or on everywhere else.

❤ How do you like the school in your host country?
I really like some aspects of American high schools but I also think that there are some lacks in thus system. Students are provided a wide range of courses of all kinds (from cooking classes to pottery and mythology, forensic science and engineering) and of all levels (from basic math to college classes), the only problem is that it's all really simplified and since students are not required to take all the classes they don't really have a general basic culture of a little bit of everything. I'm not talking about all the students, because those ones who want to learn are really prepared, but I have the impression that they are not enough.
I like the fact that teachers focus more on working in class than giving a bunch of homework and the relationships teachers-students are completely the opposite of what we have in Italy. I also love that the school supports and encourages sports and other extracurricular activities like clubs or others.
Overall though, I have to say that the Italian system is really strict and it requires to study hard, but it also prepares students better. (Personal opinion)... just to be clear this doesn't mean that I'm missing my Italian school. Not at all.

❤ How do people dress in your host country (in your opinion)?
At school everyone can wear what he/she wants. No one id going to judge you if you show up in your pijama or in green and bright pink. I noticed that at school people dress up either really casual or really fancy. (because America is either all or nothing hahaha).

❤ If your exchange year was a song, what would it be?
Probably I Lived by the One Republic. Listen to it and you'll get why.

❤ How do you imagine the day you are going home?
Well, this may be even crazier than the luggage thing. I had a dream about me going home. In this dream I was looking at myself from the outside, meaning my point of view was as an outsider watching what was going on. I dreamed myself open the front door of my house in Italy, stepping inside with all my stuff, seating on the new couch that my parents bought while I was here, and just looking around completely lost for who knows how long.

P.S. 21 days til graduation.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

#30 Prom

Festeggiamo il 30esimo post di questo blog cooooon....un bel post sul Prom. Quando sono arrivata qua ad agosto quel giorno sembrava lontano anni luce, un miraggio e una specie di coronazione di quest'esperienza. Ho passato ore ad immaginarmi quanto magico sarebbe stato ed ora eccomi qua, due settimane dopo, a realizzare quanto tutto stia passando velocemente.
Vediamo se riesco a riassumere tutto e darvi un'idea di come è stato.
E si ragazzi, non pensate di arrivare il giorno del ballo e non avere un piano d'azione per la giornata! Mercoledi' 19 Chiara e io abbiamo passato il pomeriggio a fare le prove per le acconciature con tanto di piastra e trecce di qua e di la'. Alla fine ho deciso di farmi fare solo i boccoli cosi' non avevo da stare li ad aggiustarmi ogni cinque minuti. Venerdi' invece la mia fantastica, e I mean really really awesome host mum mi ha cucito la chiusura del vestito dietro, l'ho provato ed era perfetto.

Sabato 22 mattina mi sono svegliata intorno alle dieci, fatto colazione, skypato con la mia migliore amica, e poi ho cominciato a girare per casa a fare cose a caso perche' non volevo cominciare a prepararmi troppo presto. SBAGLIATO! Prima cominciate meglio e'! A mezzogiorno mi sono lavata profumata e ho cominciato a truccarmi. Mi raccomando se i capelli ve li nfate da sole lavateli la sera prima e non il giorno stesso se no non stanno. Chiara e' arrivata a casa mia verso le due, sua mamma si e' occupata del suo trucco ed era veramente wow. Dovevamo uscire verso le tre per andare a fare le foto al parco, ma ovviamente ci abbiamo messo anni a farci i boccoli e quinzi siamo uscite quasi alle quattro.
Non vi dico per farmi stare su il vestito che abbiamo dovuto inventarci, non so perche' ma la sera prima andava bene e poi sabato cascava! Allora mia mamma con tanto di ago e filo mi ha letteramente cucito il vestito addosso, e poi siamo dovute andare al supermercato a comprare il tape per vestiti per farlo stare su. Ce l'hanno fatta i nostri eroi? Ebbene si, come notate dalle foto e' andata bene hahahaha.

Dico solo una cosa: 642 foto, 2 parchi, tanto divertimento e quattro fratellini annoiati a morte haha.

Anche per questa dovrete avere un piano, perche' tutti vanno a cena fuori  prima del Prom, quindi dovrete assolutamente prenotare in anticipo per non trovarsi poi con tutti i ristoranti vicini alla location pieni. Io sono andata con un gruppo di amici alla Spaghetti Warehouse. Bocciato alla grande ma va be e' la cmpagnia che conta. Consiglio vivamente di non abbuffarsi se il vestito vi sta stretto o giusto, e anche perche' poi dovrete ballare.

4. PROM 💜
Finalmente alle 8:30 siamo saliti al secondo piano del Red Opera Downtown Mall, dove c'era una pista da ballo, un dj, dei tavoli e un angolo con il fotografo allestiti per la nostra scuola. Le decorazioni erano semplici ma d'effetto e il posto era abbastanza piccolo per il numero di persone ma non aveva molta importanza.
Subito siamo andate a farci fotografare e poi via alle danze fino a mezzanotte! Si lo so e' assurdo che il ballo di fine anno sia dalle 8 alle 12, ma qua va cosi'. C'era per lo piu' musica pop intervallata da lenti smielati.

Siccome a mezzanotte it was over, io Swantje Jocelyn e Chiara abbiamo deciso di andare al bowling per una partita veloce e poi Jocelyn ci ha riaccompagnato a casa. Sono andata a dormire alle 2 e la mattina dopo ho dormito fino alle 11, per me e' una conquista considerando che non dormivo fino a cosi' tardi da mesi.

E' stato un giorno bellissimo, mi sono divertita tanto nonostante almeno il mio prom non sia stato davvero come quello che mostrano nei film, ma alla fine quasi niente lo e'. Ah e ultima cosa, non rinunciate ad andare al prom solo perche' non avete un date, tante persone sono nella vostra stessa situazione e secondo me e anche meglio perche' cosi' potete stare con i vostri amici.
E se siete un exchange student dovete per forza andare al prom. Punto.

It's picture tiiiiiime ↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓

me and my dwarfs

don't judge my shoes

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

#29 Mente aperta

Eccola qua, e' gia' iniziata. Quella sensazione che senti dentro, che ti stringe lo stomaco e ti fa venire il groppo in gola. Quella sensazione che non sai cos'e' e se e quando arrivera'. Sono sicura che ogni exchange student sa di cosa sto parlando, e se siete un futuro exchange o semplicemente state leggendo questo post perche' non avete nient'altro da fare (o perche' sono coooosi brava e coinvolgente e vi manco talmente tanto che leggete il mio blog ahahah sure) cerchero' di spiegarlo come riesco.
Non si tratta necessariamente di una sensazione negativa, ma nuova  e diversa da qualsiasi altra. La sensazione che quando tornero' non riusciro' a far capire alle persone a cui tengo che cosa ho provato, che quando mi chiederanno "Allora com'e' l'America?" "Dai raccontami qualcosa di strano sugli americani!" io non riusciro' a trasmettere che cosa voglio veramente, che cosa significa, che cosa mi ha cambiato.
Mi assale la paura di ritrovarmi da sola seduta sul mio letto nella mia cameretta in Italia, guardarmi attorno e semplicemente chiedermi "E adesso?".
A questo punto dell'esperienza comincio a capire veramente che cosa vuola dire quella frase che ho letto talmente tante volte

perche' veramente tu arrivi qua, ce la metti tutta per integrarti e quando finalmente ce la fai...boom back home. E lo so che qua ci potro sempre tornare poi, e non e che non rivedro mai piu' nessuno, pero' non rivivro' mai MAI quello che sto vivendo adesso, e questa cosa per quanto normale sembri e' difficilissima da accettare.

 La consapevolezza di aver vissuto una realta' completamente diversa, aver esplorato una cultura cosi' lontana da casa ma ormai cosi' vicina a me.
La paura di sentirmi da sola perche' nessuno capira' cosa ho provato. Fortunatamente ho l'impressione che mia mamma un po mi capisca, dato che anche lei ha vissuto all'estero e ad esempio le racconto cose che a me spiazzano lei non si scompone una virgola hahaha. Poi mi dice sempre "Mente aperta Emma, mente aperta", che e' diventato un po' il mio motto.

Cambiando discorso lo scorso weekend ho finalmente trovato il vestito per il Prom, pagandolo solo 10$. Grazie ad una cordinatrice della mia organizzazione partner ho trovato questo evento in una citta' non lontano da salem. Era un negozio che solo per un giorno offriva tantissimi vestiti costosi e di marca, donati a questa associazione, a soli 10$. Siamo stati in coda per tipo un'ora emmezza  ed e' stando in coda che ho notato questo bellissimo vestito in vetrina sul manichino. Mi sono venuti gli occhi a cuoricino e quando l'ho provato e' stato amore. Ne ho provati tanti altri ma quello era semplicemente gia' mio.
No non ve la posto la foto del vestito, dovrete aspettare il Prom!

PROM: In the United States a prom, is a semi-formal (black tiedance or gathering of high school students. This event is typically held near the end of the senior year (the last year of high school). Proms figure greatly in popular culture and are major events among high school students. 

In the US Prom is a BIG thing.

P.S. Ci stiamo attrezzando per andare a fare Paintball  *EXCITEMENT*

Sunday, April 9, 2017

#28 Spokane and Spring Break

I apologize for the delay, I really want to post but I've kind of the idea that every time I do means that another chapter of this adventure is closing, and believe me it's so overwhelming...

Spokane volleyball tournament was a success! We placed fourth out of forty!(we would have been third if they didn't count the sets)
My spring break started a day earlier, on Thursday 23rd, so that we had time to drive up to Spokane, in Washington before the tournament started on Friday. it's a 7 hours drive... but it took us 12 hours hahaha.
Driving there we stopped first at a big mall in Clackamas where we did a little bit of shopping, and then we did a stop at one of the little lake on the Washington border. It was pretty cool.
The hotel was a little room rental place, really nice. Our room had three big rooms and there was also a little kitchen. We played every day three games, so we were done always around 3pm.
On Saturday we went to the main park in Spokane downtown and saw the big red wagon, ne of the symbol of the city. reaaally cool too! After that we went out for dinner we all the team and parents at Buffalo Wild Wings. I think so far is one of my favorite restaurant eheh, the chicken is ssoo good. By the way another restaurant that I really like is Chipotle, a Mexican place.
Anyway, the last day of the tournament was awesome, we won or brackets and the championship match against a team from Texas. Fortunately we had the room for Saturday night too, so we didn't have to rush home after the tournament was over.
We went to dinner at a sushi place and everybody enjoyed it, even my hostdad that never really appreciated sushi!
It's been an amazing three day weekend <3, I couldn't have asked for any better.

The rest of Spring Break was more low key since we ended up not going to Southern Oregon as we've planned to. the family of friends hat we were supposed to go to was sick, so we'll go down there another time, when I'm gonna have a Friday or a Monday off from school.
Last Saturday I went shopping in Eugene with my mum and her sister, and on Sunday me and my family went to Tillamook, to the cheese factory and to the beach. It was a nice one day trip, and I got to put my feet in the ocean for the first time of 2017!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

#27 Travel

I found this quote some time ago: "Travel, it leaves you speechless and then turns you in a storyteller". Mi ha fatto pensare tanto a cosa vuol dire davvero viaggiare. Non è soltanto voler vedere posti nuovi perché sono belli, è qualcosa di diverso, di più profondo, viaggiare è un po come cercare di ampliare i propri orizzonti. Che tu lo voglia oppure no, se viaggi e vivi in posti diversi da quelli in cui sei cresciuto cambia il tuo modo di vedere le cose, cambia il tuo modo di vedere le persone e cambi tu. Capisci tante cose di te stesso che prima non sapevi oppure davi per scontate.
Quello che voglio dire è che se ne avete la possibilità viaggiate, andate, partite e scoprite cose nuove. E se non ne avete la possibilità ma volete, non smettete di provarci, inseguite questa voglia di andare al di là di quello che già conoscete; perché alla fine noi siamo quello in cui crediamo, ci comportiamo in base a quello che sogniamo e che abbiamo sperimentato.
So per certo che al mio ritorno ai miei occhi tante cose saranno diverse, so che sarò più sicura di me e più indipendente, e nonostante le difficolta auguro questa esperienza a ognuno di voi. Ci sono tanti modi per uscire dalle nostre aree di comfort e capire di più su noi stessi. Si tratta poi anche di riuscire a trovare i propri equilibri, magari nuovi equilibri, con quella cosa pazzesca che spaventa tanta gente: lo SPIRITO DI ADATTAMENTO. La vera sfida e' imparare ad apprezzare cose nuove e adattarsi ad un modo diverso di fare e pensare le cose. All'inizio si etichetta tutto come "diverso", perche' non e' come lo abbiamo sempre visto o provato, ma dopo un po' diventa normale e quando pensi a come facevi prima e' quello che ti sembra diverso. E alla fine quindi capisci che e' tutta questione di prospettiva, una prospettiva che si amplia sempre di piu' e ti fa sentire piccolo rispetto a quanto e' grande il mondo.
Per farvi un esempio pratico vi spiego un esperienza personale: quando sento mia mamma al telefono le dico sempre che mi manca mia sorella, e lei mi risponde sempre che non capisce perche' abbiamo praticamente come tutte le sorelle non siamo mai andate troppo d'accordo, sia perche' abbiamo abbiamo 5 anni di differenza sia per altro. E le do tutte la ragione del mondo, ma e' proprio quando ti mancano le cose che davi per scontate che capisci quanto sono importanti. Sento che mia sorella sta crescendo tanto mentre io non ci sono e mi dispiace non essere li, mi manca averla nella camera accanto e mi manca litigare per cosa guardare in tv. Ah e Bianca non ti preoccupare che non mi lamentero' mai piu' delle carte della merenda sul tavolino (maybe). Non vedo l'ora di riabbracciarla e di recuperare non solo quest'anno ma anche quelli prima.

Dato che mi sento poetica vi lascio con un pezzo di una canzone di Marco Mengoni che mi piace tanto tanto.

"Mi sentirei di dirti
Che il viaggio cambia un uomo
E il punto di partenza
Sembra ormai così lontano
La meta non è un posto
Ma è quello che proviamo
E non sappiamo dove
Nè quando ci arriviamo"

P.S. Post on Volleyball tournment and updates coming soon! Se avete suggerimenti o idee su argomenti che potrei trattare in particolare o volete chiedermi qualsiasi cosa relativa alla mia esperienza commentate qua sotto <3