I have been in the beautiful city of Siracusa, Sicily for almost 3 months now. It is crazy how fast the time is going. I am really starting to settle in and find my niche and routine in my everyday life. I go out with friends with school, go to the movies, hangout with my family, and everything else a normal teen would do.
In the past month, I have been so blessed to have so many more amazing opportunities that have enabled me to see more of this beautiful country!
At the beginning of this month, my host brother, Davide, who is studying at University in Milan came home to surprise my host mom. It was my first time meeting him, and he was so nice! It was a nice change to have another kid in the house! Davide, myself, and my host brother from my third family, Christian (Davide's cousin) went out for the evening to shop and get gelato. They reminded me of my brothers from back in New York, and we had so much fun together.
Later on in the month, my current host parents had to go on a business trip for the weekend, and so I wasn't home alone for 4 days, I went to Christian's house! Christian's girlfriend Marta, has a cousin who plays semi-professional volleyball on the mainland, and she had a competition that weekend. So, me, Christian, Christian's parents, Marta, Marta's parents, and Marta's aunt and uncle all piled into a huge bus/car and drove to the competition (we took the ferryboat)! It was amazing to watch and Marta's cousin was soooo good!!
I was then lucky enough to visit Davide in Milan with my host mom! We took the plane (about 2 hours) to the Milan airport, and the second I got off of the plane, the temperature that winter SHOULD be hit me! It was actually cold opposed to the 70 degree F that Siracusa has right now. From the airport we took a bus to Davide's apartment that he rents with his friend. It was a surprisingly large apartment only a 10 minute walk from the spectacular Milan Duomo. The Milan Duomo has a Gothic style structure, making everything look both scary and delicate at the same time. When you stand in front of the massive church it feels like you're in a snow globe, it was amazing... However, in front of the church, there are hundreds of gross pigeons that climb onto your hands and shoulders. A man came up to me and put corn in my hand and immediately birds were flying all up on my hands and shoulders and my host mom tried to get a picture, but they didn't turn out too well (see below) and I refused to do it again. We walking along streets with huge designer clothes and shoes (Prada, Versace, Gucci, etc...), and even got a tour of a huge castle in which the old ruler of Milan used to live. On my last evening there, we got tickets to view the original "Last Supper" painting. It was stunning, and significantly larger than I thought it would be!
When I returned, I had a pretty mellow few weeks until Thanksgiving. I was very nervous because Thanksgiving was my first big holiday away from my family. However, Rotary worldwide celebrates the holiday! So, every exchange student in Sicily came to Siracusa to celebrate! We all went to a huge dinner with about 80 people there, including a journalist! The students from the US got to cut the two massive turkeys while everyone else watched. Then we feasted on turkey, gravy, blackberry sauce, mashed potatoes, corn bread, bread, and so much more. All of the US students had to say a tradition we hold at home on Thanksgiving as well as something we are grateful for. Being all together with my new "family" on the holiday made it so much more bearable, (even when I had an allergic reaction to something in the wine...)
The following days, with the other exchange students, we were able to show them our beautiful city. We went to the Greek Theater, as well as a gladiator fighting arena, walked through Ortigia, and shopped. While we were walking through Ortigia, I spotted the Portuguese National Handball Team!! So natural I enlisted the help of my Portuguese speaking buddy, Pedro, we took a picture with them!!! Do I follow handball? No. Did I fan girl anyways? Naturally.
I feel so blessed and thankful for this experience that I am having, and I can't wait to see what else it has in store!!
The gladiator arena