Monday, October 5th will mark my first month of being abroad. Granted, it has been a rocky first month, in terms of homesickness and such; about once a week, I would get really homesick and bawl my eyes out for three or four hours... But other than that, things have been great. I am still adjusting to the city life, but I think I'm finally getting a hang of it. I've ridden the bus several times, have begun to navigate my way around the city on my own, and am proud to say I am gaining proficiency with the language more and more every day. My grammar is far from perfect, but I can piece sentences together well enough to be understood by almost anyone I come in contact with. I've received praise from many natives on my Italian, and I am attributing it entirely to the fact that my host family speaks hardly any English, which has forced me to pick up the language. I admit, their inability to speak much English was incredibly overwhelming and often frustrating for the first couple of weeks, but I'm finally realizing that it has benefitted me immensely.
That being said, I must also admit that, despite my ever-growing vocabulary and understanding of the language, I still don't understand the lessons in school. But that will come eventually, I've been told. My classmates are great; they are very friendly and helpful and they look out for me. From my experience, I've noticed that for the most part, students treat each other differently here than they do in the States. Everyone in my class gets along, regardless of cliques and different social circles and such; unfortunately, the same cannot necessarily be said about high schools in America. It's a really great atmosphere, because from what I have seen, there's a pretty evident feeling of acceptance.
In the past week, I have spent a significant amount of money... But I think such is justified because I hadn't spent more than fifty euros during my first three weeks here. And since the one-month anniversary of my stay here is coming up, I felt it only right to treat myself! I bought the Hobbit and read it all in about five days... I also bought the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy on DVD in Italian (it's called "Signore degli Anelli" here); is it even necessary to say that I'm ecstatic? I also found my new favorite store, INTI, where there is plethora of one-of-a-kind pieces of jewelry (my favorite!); I bought a few necklaces from there, as well as some rather comical pins for my Rotary jacket. And then, of course, I finally bought shoes... Two pairs of boots, to be exact. I am determined to save up a few months of Rotary allowance to buy a really incredible pair of genuine Italian leather boots... Perhaps I'll treat myself at Christmas or on my birthday. I suppose we shall see. And while we're on the subject of boots, I have a story. Kylie and I went into a very expensive shoe store, knowing we couldn't afford even a shoelace from there, but just wanting to take a peak around... I started to pick up this gorgeous pair of suede ankle boots, when suddenly, this sales lady runs up to me and starts waving her arms and saying something I didn't understand... Finally, she pointed to a little sign, which I then noticed sat above every pair of shoes in the store. I had thought it was a price tag or something upon first glance, so I didn't bother reading it. Turns out it said "Please, do not touch" in at least four different languages. You know you're out of your league when the shoes have their own "do not touch" signs... So we booked it outta there pretty quick.
Today is Saturday, and normally, I would have school today... But there's a student-teacher protest today. Apparently, the head of education in Italy wants to cut the three-month summer vacation down to one month. So while I could not attend the protest, I did get to reap the benefits and sleep in. Awesome much? I sure think so. Kylie's host parents are out of the town for the weekend, so she is staying with me. I can already tell this will be a very fun weekend. Our orientation is tomorrow- unfortunately, this consists solely of the students in Sicily (that is Kylie, myself, and one other girl in Palermo) and our host parents, having lunch with some Rotary people. We're pretty disappointed because everyone in other countries got a really fun orientation, with at least twenty other students and a weekend of fun. We island-dwellers are certainly getting the short-end of the stick in terms of Rotary events, but I guess we are lucky to be on an island for the next ten months... You win some, you lose some! We'll make the best of it, regardless. And we're really excited to meet the girl from Palermo; I can't imagine how lonely and homesick she must be. Kylie and I were really lucky to end up in the same town, because we have become a sort of safe haven for one another, when we get homesick or whatever.
Lovin' life on an island in the Mediterranean! Will be writing more updates soon.