I have officially been in Siracusa, Sicily for over a month. The time is already flying bye with new people and experiences. My language progression has improved drastically since my last post. I now understand about 83% of what I here, and am able to respond. It is becoming easier and easier to express myself, and I am now even able to joke around with native Italian speakers! It is such an amazing feeling, because it was starting to feel very lonely for me.
It is definitely harder than I thought to make friends. Back at home, it is very easy for me to talk to people, and befriend just about anyone, but here has been very difficult. Everyone has their friends, and while having a new girl from New York (not NYC much to the dismay of many) was very cool for them, it quickly got old, and I could no longer rely on the story of the time I saw Central Park... I now have friends outside of the other exchange students, friends from other classes as well as my own. On Saturday's we go to Ortigia and walk around in a big group speaking in very very fast Italian. I know it has only been a month, but I truly have no idea how I will say goodbye to everyone when the time comes...
Some adventures I have had in the past few weeks: I went to Palermo, Sicily with my friend Claire (another exchange student from Michigan, USA), my second host mom, Franka, and my third host family (Claire's second host family). It was amazing, we walked around the city exploring and eating amazing food such as cannoli, arancini, and pasta! We went to Palermo Cathedral which was built in 1184, during Sicily's Norman period. Archbishop of Palermo, Gualtiero Offamiglio founded the cathedral on the site of a Muslim mosque, which had itself been built over an early Christian basilica. The archbishop's main aim was to surpass the glory of the magnificent cathedral of nearby Monrealem and the Palermo Duomo became an architectural battleground for "The Battle of the Two Cathedrals."
Another adventure I had, was on a warm day (everyday is warm, but this one was especially warm), Claire and I left my house for a day of exploring. We walked to the city of Ortigia where we found an authentic Sicilian restaurant overlooking the amazingly blue Mediterranean. We stuffed ourselves with amazing lasagna (my favorite dish here) and gelato, and walked around. Later in the evening we watched a soccer/football game of some of our friends, it was a very fun day!
I had been promising pancakes to my host parents for a while now, and I had maple syrup to have with them, so enduring the pain of converting the measurements of every ingredient, I made some pancakes for my host parents and they LOVED the maple syrup!!
This past week, three exchange students from three different parts of Brazil organized a party for all of the other exchange students with Brazilian food and music. It was so amazing to experience another culture from another part of the world while still in Italy. The food was amazing and the music was very fun, and as always the other exchange students and I had so much fun together!
On Sunday, my host parents and I went to Catania, a city about 45 minutes away. We walked around the city, which is bit bigger than Siracusa with more shops and restaurants for the day. The emblem of Catania is an elephant, and all through the city there are elephant statues and pictures! It was a great day and very fun bonding with my host parents.
On Sunday, I went to an orientation for all exchange students in Sicily, district 2110. It was amazing to finally meet the people we all had been talking to for months! We had a huge lunch and listened to students who just finished their exchange. However, my favorite part about the orientation was talking to the outbound students. I found this extremely fun and exciting to speak with them, because I myself remember being an outbound and meeting the inbounds. I found it not only fun speaking to them, but important. If any of them were still on the fence about exchange, I wanted to be the one to push them off. I wanted to share with them how I have only been here not even two months, and yet my life is forever changed. There were quite a few from many different parts of Sicily, and almost all of them want to go the United States! They were all so sweet and fun, and very complimentary of my Italian, which I wasn't complaining about!
I can not even believe the number of people I have met. People from Italy, the US, Mexico, Brazil, Finland, Belgium, Spain, Germany, France, and the list goes on. It's only been a month and a half, and I don't want to go home already!!