So when I said that Monday, October 5 marked my month... I was lying. I forgot that months are not measured by the passing of four weeks, as they should be. Wednesday, October 7 was the real anniversary of my first month here in Sicily. Sorry about the mixup.
The orientation wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Kylie and I finally met Lena, the other exchange student on the island. She is staying in Palermo, and it turns out that she is from Colorado! Obviously, the two of us bonded immediately; partly because our states are neighbors, and partly because we have a lot in common. Since meeting, we've kept in touch via Facebook. She's great and she's getting along really well on her own in Palermo! I'm impressed. I think I would've felt lost and alone without Kylie... But you never know, huh?
We changed classrooms and switched to full school days on Wednesday... It was a strange transition. Nobody told me which class I was supposed to go to so I kind of just wandered the halls, looking for a familiar face, for about an hour on Wednesday. I tried to find my tutor (counselor) on Wednesday and Thursday so we could choose my new classes, but she was nowhere to be found. I finally found her on Friday and we picked out the classes I will switch into, hopefully this week.
I went to Taormina with Kylie and her host mom, Conci, on Saturday... And oh my god, I absolutely fell in love. Everyone had boasted that it was the most beautiful city on the entire island, but I never could've imagined... Words cannot even begin to describe the magnificence that is Taormina; you honestly just have to see it for yourself (though I will post some pictures that Kylie took so you can at least get an idea; I broke my camera a few weeks ago). And because it is the most beautiful city on the island, it is a tourist destination if I ever saw one... I think I heard more English spoken that day than I did Italian, which was strange and kind of a relief. But being around so many tourists who would only be there for a few weeks at most and knew only a few Italian words made me feel more like a native... It was awesome! It really put this whole exchange in perspective for me.
On Sunday, my host family and I headed to a small town called Militello, where there was a huge mostarda festival; apparently, people from all over Sicily and Europe and the world come for this festival! It was very cool... Oh, by the way, mostarda is an Italian specialty, made of candied fruit and a sort of mustard flavored syrup... I don't really like it, but it's very popular here. Fichi d'India (prickly pear) is the most common type here in Sicily. There was a Native American band playing traditional Indian music; I couldn't believe it! I automatically assumed there were from North America, but upon asking, it turns out they are from Bolivia... Either way, the music was good and they were very friendly. After a very long day and an even longer weekend, we went home and ate dinner, but were constantly startled by the sound of fireworks... There was apparently a celebration of the Madonna in a nearby neighborhood. After dinner, we watched through the window... An incredible weekend, no doubt!
My homesickness has subsided, for the most part. I feel a lot more at home here than I did a few weeks ago; I think it was just a matter of time and adjustment. I am having a wonderful time, meeting incredible people and seeing unbelievable things... I have a feeling this exchange will go by really fast, once the ball gets rolling!