Saturday, July 16, 2011

A Midsummer Exchange Student's Dream

I've only just now realized that it's the middle of the summer....I mean, today is July 16, which is pretty much the middle of the summer in my mind. Where did June and the first half of July go??? Kinda surreal. Already, I am so much closer to leaving for my exchange. It still seems so far away, but I'm trying to consciously comprehend that right now, it's only 7 weeks away!!!! I titled this post "A Midsummer Exchange Student's Dream" because I have been experiencing a severe lack of emotion about my exchange lately, so much so that I feel like I'm in this weird dream state. Last month, I was very excited because I kept receiving new information every week, but now I just have to idly wait until my departure before anything of consequence happens again (at least in relation to the exchange).

Part of my family is moving to Fredericksburg, Virginia in a few days, but since I'm still taking classes, I'll stay here for 2 weeks and join them at the beginning of August (somewhere around the 5th). Classes are officially halfway over, and I have only 1 more test and a paper due for Religion, and 2 more tests for Pysch. I'm doing well so far and I don't anticipate any major obstacles for the rest of the summer term. College is ridiculously easy, at least at Mississippi State. ;)

Milly has requested a small picture of me to be submitted for my bus pass application, but the consulate kept my passport photo when I mailed my visa info, so I'll have to go get another passport-sized photo made next week. Then I have to physically mail it to her in Milano. She said we could wait until I'm in Italy, but lines for bus passes are super long in September, so she wants to get mine now. Also, she told me the cost of enrollment at my school, Liceo Musicale, and I'll have to bring that amount with me once I arrive.

Though college is easy, it's endlessly mind-numbing, so I can't wait for August when I can get a change of scenery in Virginia. Even though once I'm there, I will have literally nothing to do all day except sit around and study Italian.....which I should do more of anyways. Actually, today I learned 4 new verbs and their conjugations! Now the trick is to remember them all. ha...haha....ugh. 48 days. Only 48 days.

Friday, July 8, 2011

VISA!

As the title of this post implies, I now have my visa!!!!!! Which means I have pretty much all paperwork completed for my exchange!! The Miami consulate people were super fast in getting my original documents along with my stamped passport back to me. It only took about a week from the day we mailed out all the paperwork. Very impressed. Plus the visa sticker in my passport is a beautiful green color. I love looking at it. :)

Other than that, I recently found out that my host family will be out of Milano on the day I arrive (September 4). Host parents wanted to know if I could change my departure date, but it would cost WAY too much money to change it. Soooo, I asked if I could just stay with a Rotarian in Milano until they get back. We've done this for inbound students in Starkville, so I figured it wouldn't be a big deal. However, my host mom insisted that they'd just change their plans since it was still so far away in time. Whatever works I suppose.

Not much else exchange-related has happened since my last post. I did start classes at MSU this week, and they have been interesting to say the least (one professor didn't show up on the first day.....he thought classes started later in the week). I have my first college test today and it should be pretty easy. I'm not sure what will happen next that will be blog-worthy, but I will definitely keeping posting throughout the summer! Ciao for now. :)

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Plane Tickets and Such

So much has happened in the past few days!! I don't even remember it all. Hmm. I suppose I'll start with my eye appointment. I had a regular eye check up and also received a copy of my eye prescription along with a year supply of contacts for my exchange. That was important, so I'm glad it's done now.

Then........the VISA. My mom and I printed out tons of forms and copied them numerous times and got them notarized and finally compiled everything to mail to the Miami consulate. Thankfully, the consulate people were cool enough to let us apply by mail instead of making an appearance in Miami, which would've been inconvenient to say the least. We sent it two days ago by overnight mail so it should have arrived by noon yesterday. Assuming we have no problems with them approving me, my visa should take only about a week to arrive. :D

Next important thing was enabling my checking account to be used in Europe. It was a lot easier than I thought actually.....the woman at the bank just had to "flag" my debit card so the bank would know I was in Europe from September to June. Super easy.

Next thing I did was make my plane reservation. This was the most anticipated thing of all (besides the visa), as I'm sure you can imagine. Sooooo, we got a ticket for me round trip, but the farthest date for return that we could set was only in May, so in a few months we'll have to extend the return flight. But it's all good cause we got tickets with Delta that are SUPER cheap compared to the rest of the flights. Anyways. I will officially leave the US from Washington, D.C. at 4:40 pm on Saturday, September 3. I will fly into Paris, have a 1.75 hour layover, and then I'll be on a short flight directly into Milano, which will arrive at 9:15 am Milano time on Sunday, September 4. Let me just say AHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I finally have a set date for my departure!!!!!!!! I totally created a countdown widget for Fabrizio, my computer, which tells me exactly how much time I have left in the US. Right now it's at 63 days, 22 hours, 26 minutes, and 40 seconds. :) :) :) :)

THEN I went to the Mississippi State bookstore and racked up on gifts for my host family, host counselor and/or YEO, and host club president. It was way more expensive than I thought. And I just realized I have to get gifts for my other host families too, but since I don't know them yet, I'll just wait until I get to Italy and have my real parents send me some MSU items. haha. Yayyyyyyy. 

Annnnnd my mom just got documentation from my doctor that I don't have TB. Apparently I have to carry this documentation with me to Italy. At least that's what they said at outbound camp. Even though to apply for exchange in the first place, you had to be TB negative, so I took the test last fall when I applied and was obviously negative, so I don't really know why I need extra paperwork........oh well.

Today I also visited Keith, my sponsor counselor, to pick up my set of 200 business cards that were just printed. They look pretty nice, and I'm excited about giving them to the awesome people I'm going to meet. :) Speaking of awesome people, I had to say goodbye to our inbound student from Taiwan, Jessie Hsu, who left Starkville today. She gave me a Taiwan pin for my blazer (the first pin another exchange kid has given me) and a business card, and in turn I gave her my card and some MSU pins. We didn't get very close this year, but she was still great to be around and I enjoyed meeting her. It was sad to see her go. =/

My to-do list is growing quickly smaller, and I am so excited about that. I have only a few minor things left to do, a major one being that I need to order a set of luggage. That should be done within the next week or two. Once I get my visa, I'll be practically ready to go. But first I have to take my 2 classes at MSU, which start this Tuesday, the 5th. They'll last all of July and then in early August I'm moving to Virginia with the family for a few weeks before I fly out of DC. Bring it on, MSU. You're the last thing standing in my way. :)