This past month, I have been really realizing that my exchange is in the final stretch. The time has been going by so fast, and thinking about leaving this beautiful country, and the friends and family that I will always have, makes me really think about how lucky I am. A year ago, I had no idea that I would have best friends from all over the world, friends that I will have for the rest of my life, friends that I will visit, and will visit me. I truly feel so blessed to have been granted this opportunity from my family and friends, but especially to Rotary; so for all of the Rotary volunteers reading this, I truly thank you from the bottom of my heart. It is because of all of you that I am the person I am today. I have grown so much as a person during these months that I have been here. I have learned patience, in myself and those around me, especially while learning a new language. I have learned that I have so many other facets in my personality than I knew before I came. I have learned that most people are kind, everyone that I have met here has gone out of their way to ensure that I feel comfortable and a part of a community. I have learned that unless you appreciate every second, the seconds will escape from you, however at the same time, life goes on; at home with family and friends as well as here with bumps in the road, life goes on. I have learned that if you open up to people, you truly can have a home anywhere in the world, no matter how temporary the stay is. I have also learned graciousness. I have learned to be grateful for my host parents and host family who literally gained someone they knew virtually nothing about, and made them a part of their everyday lives. I also feel grateful for my family back in New York. They have supported me every step of the way, saying that as long as I was happy, they were happy. In fact, my mom has repeatedly told me, "I would rather you be happy and be 5,000 miles away from me than be sad and in the room next door." And for their love and support, I am eternally grateful. Most of all, I have learned that the world is so much bigger than I had ever known. The people living here are not "Italians" they are people! It took me so long to realize that people are too often glorified by their country when in reality, the only thing that separates everyone else, is a few thousand miles and a few thousand languages, people are people with lives and feelings, no matter where you are.
I would again like to show my greatest gratitude to everyone who has helped me along my journey to Italy this far.
As for my Italian speaking and understanding skills. I took an evaluation through my school to analyze my Italian reading, writing, speaking, and understanding. My reading I scored 85%, my writing I scored 79%, my speaking I scored 90%, and my understanding I scored 93%! I was pretty happy with how I scored especially considering that I knew little to no Italian when I arrived here. In the next few months, I hope to increase my writing skills, which I will do simply by writing more and having teachers or friends check my Italian grammar and spelling.
This past month, I did some pretty awesome stuff! The first cool thing that I did, was when I went to Mt. Etna in Catania on a bus with friends from school. When we got to the mountain, we all took to sledding, but without sleds. The mountain was so steep that you could slide down the side of it so fast, I have never gone sledding at that pace in my life, it was FANTASTIC. And for those that maybe don't know, Mt. Etna is not just a mountain, it is the second largest volcano in all of Europe, and I was actually able to sled INTO the volcano!! At one point, a cloud was passing, and I was above where the cloud was and all of the people below me disappeared and I felt like I was alone sitting on a cloud. Everything was white and so quiet, it was one of the most breathtaking and beautiful things that I have ever experienced in my life.
Next was Carnivale!! I was able to go to Aceriale, a city in between Catania and Siracusa for the festival. Aceriale has one of the biggest parade and celebration in all of Sicily! There were floats, and zeppole (a kind of fried dough), candy, music, marching bands, and so much more! The day was beautiful and we were right next to the sea for Carnivale.
Next, I got invited to go with my friend and his father on his yacht, and go sailing all around Ortigia!! It was SO beautiful!!! I even got to steer the boat at one point! It was such a beautiful day with sun amazing views!
I am so sorry this is going up late, I wrote it on March 8th, but it was brought to my attention that it never posted.
Talk to you soon!