It feels as if I just posted my last blog entry, but so much has happened since the end of December! Since my France trip fell through at the last second, I was expecting to endure a boring two weeks of winter break at home without anything to do. Quite suddenly, however, my friend Elena (who I met in the DC airport) invited me to her family’s house in Venice! It was out of nowhere, but I got permission from the host family and I left on a train the same day! I stayed with them for three days, and they were incredibly hospitable to me. They went far beyond what was necessary to ensure that I was comfortable during my visit. We spent two days in the “laguna” of Venice, where the historical city is located. They showed me all the important things to see, including palaces, museums, theaters, churches, and many hidden places known to only the Venetians themselves. At one point, overlooking the sea from the Doge’s Palace, I was overcome with emotion as I realized that I am in fact HERE in ITALY. It took a trip to Venice to make me comprehend it, but it finally happened. On the third day they gave me a short tour of their town Mestre, which is the mainland part of Venice, and also a small town in the area called Treviso. All in all an incredible trip. J
|at Rialto bridge|
|Ponte dei Sospiri (Bridge of Sighs)|
|view of the Grand Canal|
|Piazza San Marco|
|Piazza San Marco by night|
Since then I have changed host families! My new hosts live near Porta Garibaldi, a bit northeast of where my last family lives. I had to pack up all my stuff (which has increased a bit since I arrived in September) and I moved in on this past Sunday, the day before school started back after break. My old host family and I said goodbye to each other and all of a sudden I was alone with my new family! A strange sensation. But thankfully this family, consisting of two parents and a daughter named Carla, are extremely open and welcoming. They made me feel at home right away! I can tell I am going to have many memorable experiences with them throughout the next three months.
Now I’m back at school and it’s as mind-numbing as ever. Since I finished my first book in Italian recently, my Italian teacher gave me a new book to read, and it’s coming along quite nicely (about halfway through it now). The only problem is remembering all the new words I come across and then write down! I have realized that my ability to read, write, and understand spoken Italian is extremely well developed at this point, but I still have to work a LOT on my pronunciation because the Italian “r” has been slowing down my speech. I can roll my r’s nicely, but some of the letter combinations just elude me when I need to say them quickly in a sentence! Grrrr. I am hoping I will overcome this obstacle with more time and practice.
This month Rotary has planned for us to go to Bergamo, a town east of Milano where my friend Anna (who first helped me learn Italian) lived two years ago! It is only a day trip but I can’t wait to go and spend time with all the Rotary kids, who I haven’t seen in a while because of the winter break. Time is literally flying. It’s basically halfway through January already!!! I don’t understand what is happening. And it scares me because now that I’m starting to really pick up the language, I want to stay here much longer (without going to school, but still) and become fluent!! Ughhh. June will come far too quickly I fear. But until then I’ll just have to make the most of every opportunity that comes my way, and that starts with forming a good relationship with my new host family!