Sunday, August 28, 2011

One Week

Whoo! As I write this blog post, Hurricane Irene is bearing down on the East Coast, about to strike Virginia. In fact I may not have electricity for much longer. This whole earthquake-and-hurricane-in-the-same-week thing is quite annoying, and I wish I could just live my last week in the US in peace. But no. Mother Nature has other plans in store for me. =P

This past week was pretty boring (besides the hurri-quake), but I did get some things done. First was making copies of all my vital paperwork, as I recently learned that I must carry these copies on me when I enter Italy because the Border Authority can ask to see them at any time. Next I tried to figure out my packing situation. My friends who are now in France warned me against taking too many bags, and at the time I was planning on bringing two checked bags and one carry-on. So then I planned to take only one checked bag, but my mom just convinced me to take the second checked bag so I'll be able to take more host family gifts with me. Eeek. I just don't want to take three bags when I could really get by with only two. We shall have to see how this plays out.

On Tuesday there was a 5.9 earthquake which was felt from Georgia all the way up the East Coast to Canada. The epicenter was 20 miles away from where we live. haha. It was fun as I've never experienced an earthquake before, and thankfully no one was hurt. There were several aftershocks as well.

Today my mom, McKay, and I drove to Charlottesville to visit the University of Virginia, aka UVA. It's my next-to-last college visit, and I was anxious to see if I would fall in love with this school. Unfortunately the pre-hurricane weather dampened our visit (literally) but we got to visit two friends also from Starkville, Ida and Stevie! After the tour we all had lunch and it was grand. The school itself is fabulous (#2 in the country for public universities) but I don't know if it's right for me. I just didn't feel right while there. But again, who knows what will happen with the college situation. This week I have also been writing college essays to avoid doing them while in Italy. But back to today: We got back home only about an hour ago, and we're preparing for the intense weather which will hit in a few hours and last all night. I may not have electricity for awhile, but I guess we'll survive.

I also made a list of things I still need to buy before departure, many of which I did not know I needed until this week. This list includes toiletries and snacks as well as a few more clothes that my sister Wheeler will bring me when she visits on Friday before I leave.

Did I mention that I have ONE WEEK?! I woke up this morning and I was like one week? One week....OMG ONE WEEK!!! It's almost here. This week I will be going around saying "Last Monday.....Last Thursday......Last meal....." haha it sounds like I'm dying. But as my friend Austin put it, our date of departure is like the death of one huge chapter of our lives, and the birth of another greater and yet unknown chapter. It's rather scary to think about, but I can't help but get excited at the thought of starting over. However, this week I have been trying to comprehend that I'll be gone.....for a year.....but I've pretty much resigned myself to the fact that it won't hit me until I'm in Europe, maybe not even until a few weeks after I'm there. No use dwelling on that now.

On Saturday morning I will drop by my youngest host bro Luca's house in northern VA (located conveniently on the way to the DC airport), as he is now there on his exchange year in the US. It will be a fun little brunch before we continue on to the airport and I finally depart. Alright, this post needs to end. 6 days, 22 hours, 27 minutes, 50 seconds!


Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Longest Two Weeks of My Life

It has been two weeks since my last post, and not much has happened since then. As of this moment, I have a little less than exactly two weeks left in the US. And these final two weeks will surely be the LONGEST TWO WEEKS OF MY LIFE hence the title of this post. Enough redundancy though. Today I ran some vital errands for my exchange.

The first errand was to buy an international power adaptor which we found at Staples (that was easy!). I will most likely use this adaptor only for my laptop Fabrizio so that he doesn't explode when I plug him into an Italian wall outlet. The second errand (also at Staples) was to laminate my health insurance card thing so I'll be able to keep it with me at all times. The dude who worked at Staples kind of chopped off part of the card so we got it for free.....haha.....

Also on the agenda of things to do before I depart are: buy an int'l calling card (in case I need it unexpectedly during my trip to Milano), get some Euros to use on the trip there, make copies of my visa and immunization record, and make sure I have contact info for the Giorgis and my host district YEO (Youth Exchange Officer) written down in case I need to contact them en route. Most of this stuff is simply precautionary, but I want to be as prepared as possible in case something happens between DC, Paris, and finally Milano.

My mom found a super inexpensive yet nice Samsonite suitcase at a local store, so I now have an extra bag! This is AWESOME because my stuff barely fit in my bags on the trip to Virginia a few weeks ago. Plus my backpack weighed wayyyy too much on the trip and I almost broke my back trying to carry it around the Atlanta airport. SO PAINFUL. Completely unrelated, but today I bought a lovely new watch. I never wear watches (mostly because my wrist is so small) but this one is great and I hope it will be able to serve me well in Italia and beyond. Enough rambling though--I will probably only blog one or two more times before I depart because I foresee nothing of consequence happening until then. 13 days, 18 hours, 52 minutes, and 25 seconds!

P.S. I just found out that I got A's in both summer classes at MSU. Not that I was worried or anything. :)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Virginia

I am finally in my new home in Fredericksburg, Virginia. It feels like it's taken forever to get here (a sign that doesn't bode well for my upcoming trans-Atlantic flight) but I'm finally here. I arrived in Richmond last night at about 22:15 (I have totally made the change to military time) and we stayed the night in a hotel. This morning my mom, McKay, and I drove to Williamsburg to tour the College of William & Mary, an awesome school. It's one of my top choices, but the experience was rather tainted by the ridiculous heat and humidity and the fact that dorms don't have A/C. We visited one and I almost died. Not really but still. We ate at a lovely colonial Williamsburg restaurant and then drove through the awful I-95 traffic to Fredericksburg.

Settling in was weird, mostly because I don't have my own room in the apartment my mom and sister have for this year. I kept my few winter clothes I own in my bags, and took everything else out. My mom picked up a NatGeo Explorer magazine for me with the cover story entitled "Milan's Big Heart" and I devoured the story. It made me about 20 times more excited for exchange. :D

Now that I'm here, it's time to really hit the Italian harder than ever. I also plan to hit the gym and pool though I know deep inside they will produce neither muscle nor tan, just exhaustion and sunburn. Oh well. It's something to do. Tomorrow is church and a visit to my mom's friend who apparently lives on the Chesapeake Bay. Should be an interesting visit. 27 days!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Maps

Just kidding about not blogging again until this weekend. I realized that I can add pictures and videos to these posts! (Which should have been blatantly obvious much earlier.) So I figured I would show you exactly where I will be, so you can get a good picture of Milano's location with regard to the rest of Italia and Europe.

Here is Italy in relation to Europe. 

And this is Italia itself. Milano is in the northwest corner, near the Swiss border.
And my first host family lives just west of Parco Sempione (in the upper left corner). Downtown!!!!

That's it for now, but I promise to post plenty of pictures in the future once I actually have photos to share! Exactly 30 days from today I will be on a plane out of DC. :)


Transition

It's been several weeks since my last post, but that's only because nothing much has happened.............until now. Yesterday I finally finished my two classes at MSU, and I never have to go to school in Starkville again! WHOO!!! Happy day. So yeah. This Friday (two days away) I will drive to Jackson with my dad and sister Wheeler for her volleyball tourney, but at 4:00 I will fly to ATL and then Richmond, VA. After meeting my mom and other sister McKay, we will spend the night there before attending William and Mary's preview day on Saturday. THEN we'll drive to Fredericksburg and I'll settle in for the rest of the month until Italia.

Milly requested a few weeks ago that I send a passport sized photo to be used in getting me a Milano bus pass. She wants to get the pass now so that we don't have to face the long lines in September when everyone else is getting theirs. I had completely forgotten about mailing the photo until today, so I ran to Walgreens, got the photo, and mailed it to Milano.

I also said goodbye to Keith Remy, my sponsor counselor. We chatted for a bit, and he became the first person to sign my journal. I got this idea from my Rotex at outbound camp. She had her friends in the US sign notes in a journal before she left for Italia, and before returning to the US at the end of her exchange year, she had her Italian friends write notes to her in it as well. Sooo I decided this was a great idea, and I will have my friends write in mine before I leave on Friday. It will be yet another way of keeping a record of my year abroad since I want to remember as much as I can!

I'll blog again once I've flown to VA and been to William and Mary. August in VA will be mostly uneventful, as I'll pretty much just sit around with McKay and try to motivate myself to read books and practice italiano. haha. 31 DAYS!!!!!!!!!