10 September 2009

The First Few Days

I slept for seventeen hours on Monday night, after almost twenty-eight hours of traveling and waiting in airports. My host sister, Giulia, and her best friend, Francesca, woke me up so we could get some lunch and find a gift for Francesca's boyfriend. I had my first arancione; a breaded ball of rice, tomatoes, and peas. It was very good! It's so strange, because I am always thirsty, but rarely am I hungry... I eat at every meal, but never very much... I am always full after a few bites. I think I am still nervous about being in a new place. Everyone always asks me "Do you like it? Is it not good?" and I feel bad, but I physically can't eat more! I made the mistake of eating too much on the plane from Detroit to Rome, and instead of sleeping, had to concentrate on not throwing up for about two hours.

We went to the beach on Tuesday; it was only my second time in the sea. My host family couldn't believe I'd only been in the ocean once before. My host father waded into the water and collected three sea shells for me, and my host mother found a small shell with a hole in it, and told me to make a necklace with it. My host family is wonderful. They are very nice and always understanding, even though we often find it very difficult to communicate. I think I say "thank you" about a hundred times a day. I'm sure they are getting tired of it already. 

It apparently never rains in Sicily, but it rained yesterday morning before I arrived, and it rained again all of last night, after midnight. How strange! The smell of rain reminds me of home. I was awoken this morning by a loud, booming voice outside my window (which I always keep wide open), repeating the same thing over and over again. I was concerned it was some kind of uprising... Turns out it was just a fruit vendor, trying to make some sales. The traffic here is crazy and makes me very nervous; everyone drives with a kill-or-be-killed mentality. And no one wears seatbelts... Ever. It is very different, but I really do love it here.

I find myself trying to think of Italian words for everything in English, and I think I am beginning to forget some English already... It's the strangest thing; I seem to be in some kind of "language limbo". And when I do speak in English, I accidentally pronounce everything with a slight Italian accent. English sounds so strange, because it is so guttural and ugly in comparison to Italian, which is very smooth and rich. Manuela and Lia (Rotaract and Rotary officials) took me to dinner last night, with Giorgio, Manuela's friend Gei, and Lia's two daughters. Manuela, Gei, and Lia speak English, more or less, and insisted on speaking mostly English all night. It was sort of refreshing, but I can still feel the language headache coming on...

In other news, pistacchios are apparently native to Sicily. I had pappardella pistacchio, which is a pasta with pesto and crushed pistacchios. It was phenomenal. And for dessert, Manuela and I split a chocolate tortellini with melted chocolate in the center and pistacchio gelato... Again, phenomenal. The food here is unbelievable; I mean, I'd heard but I never could've imagined. Claudio and I had an afternoon snack a few hours after lunch- milk and a glazed donut, followed by a cup of Coco Puffs. 

I am so thankful to have been placed in a family with two brothers... It has made things a lot easier, because I can always have a laugh with them. Despite the language barrier, we joke together all the time. Claudio was telling Giorgio and I about a pizza parlor in Boston called Papa Gino's... The slogan is "If it's party time, it's Papa time"; Claudio kept whispering "It's Papa time!" and I couldn't stop laughing. We informed each other of slang words in our languages, and watched some really awful Youtube videos together. Giorgio and Claudio are going to Rome for a few days soon, and they wanted to take me with them, but apparently, I am not allowed to go unless my host parents are with me... Rotary's youth exchange student rules. Of course, they are no replacement of my real brothers, but it feels more like home than any other host family would, I'm sure. Having a family similar to my own has made for a very smooth transition.

More later!



  1. everything sounds beautiful.
    love from kansas, dear.

  2. Ah! This is so great, Hunter! I'm tickled pink with excitement for you. Keep it up!
    Love you,

  3. When I first got to Switzerland, I had the same thing where I was always thirsty and never hungry. It lasted about a week. Weird. I'm glad you like it there! When do you start school?

  4. This Friday! The constant-thirst-seldom-hunger syndrome must be an exchange student thing... The other girl in Catania has the same problem.

    How do you like Switzerland so far?