Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The New Girl

OK, so I'm currently on school holiday for Christmas and the New Year until the first week of January. That means I've had about 4 days of school in Italy so far.

I'm so glad that my host sister, Lia, is about my age so we can go to school together. At least there's somebody I know on my first day of school. We go to the same class together.

I thought the place was absolutely beautiful! We took a bus to school and I've been taking pictures along the way. I saw snow on the mountains!!! O.o

Woah! They actually have graveyards for their dogs. Awesome.

The streets were so quiet in the morning. So different compared to Malaysia.

Well, this is my classroom. There are about 22 students, but including me, there's 23 students in the class.

I was so nervous about going to their school. I was really hoping that they'd like me because I want to fit in so badly. During the AFS orientation camp, I've heard of quite a few students who didn't even make any friends because of the language barrier and sometimes, the students don't really give a damn about Asian kids, so I got kinda worried.

It turns out that once again, I worry for nothing. My classmates seemed happy to meet me! They were all smiles and introduced themselves. They showed me around the school and introduced me to their teachers. They can't really speak good English, but I can basically understand what they're trying to say.

The girls are so nice and they're so much fun! They are very close to each other and so friendly. They wanted me to sit at different places of the class with different people so that we can get to know each other better. I like that arrangement.

There are very few boys in the class though. I think there's about.... 7? I think. But they're so friendly and they were very curious about where I come from and how things are compared to Italy. They are so freakin gorgeous, but a little... errmm.... crazy.

As for the teachers, they were really nice people. They can't really speak English that well either, but I'm glad they try to anyway.

The English teacher is my favorite though. For obvious reasons. She took me to different classes to talk about our Malaysian culture and stuff while my class is taking a Latin exam. Latin is so friggin hard I'm telling you. Even though we may have a bit of Latin during mass, I still don't get it.

My classmates are awesome!

It was on the last day before the holidays started when we had a class party! I've never told my host family, but I hate cheese. But you know what? Their food is so good, I've been completely converted! (except the mozzarella cheese. I didn't really like it. Hopefully, I'd eventually get used to the taste).

My favorite so far is the Margarita pizza. Its a classic pizza in Italy and its so simple! Its just the pizza with cheese, tomato sauce and some basil leaves. Its simply 'molto buono'!

Later on, Lia and I went to visit a friend's house. I enjoyed looking at the streets of Italy. So small and quaint.

The streets are so beautiful at night! The lights, the shops, the people, everything! I'm so happy.

HOLY S**T! Its Sophie Kinsella's new book! I wanna read it, but its in Italian :(

And that was the end of my first week in an Italian school. I have to say that the school is very small, but the good thing about it is that then everybody in the school knows each other unlike a large school like mine. I was quite relieved that I managed to make friends and I feel so lucky that I have a host sister like Lia.

She's the best :)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Buongiorno Italy!

Greetings from Italy! I still can’t believe I’m in freakin Italy. It still feels so surreal. I never thought I’d go to Europe someday. OK, yes I have and it came true!

Travelling to Italy was nerve wrecking. I was SOOO nervous the moment I first said goodbye to my family at the airport. But at the same time, I’ve never been so excited before.  There were so many things on my mind; what if my host family don’t like me? What if I don’t fit in with my classmates? What if I don’t like it here?

There were just so many questions on my mind.

I’m not the only one though. Even Syefah, another exchange student was also nervous. Heck, she was crying when we left our parents!

Its true that I absolutely love travelling, but I also HATE going on long flights. And the flight from Kuala Lumpur to Doha took about 8 effin hours! That’s not even Italy yet. We still have to go on transit from Doha to Italy which is about a 6 hour flight.

So altogether, I’ve been travelling for about 14 hours, but that’s not even counting the 8 hours we had to wait on transit for the flight to Italy.  Yeah, it took us about 22 hours to reach Italy XP

When I first arrived in Rome, the first thing that hit me when I stepped out of the airport was the smell of cigarettes. I’ve been told that most Italians smoke, so I was prepared to tahan the smell if my host family happened to smoke.

I still can't believe I was in Rome. Its like a dream come true :)

Before meeting our host family, we had to go for an orientation camp for 2 days. The volunteers are super friendly and we had a great time!

In the hotel, I found some gorgeous postcards of Rome and I wanted to buy it because I collect postcards. But the counter had no change for 10 euros. Like hello!? It’s a counter, its supposed to have change wth =.=

I brought only notes with me so I was disappointed to find out that I can’t buy a drink from the vending machine. I haven’t had a drop of water since I stepped out of the plane so I was pretty frustrated that not only can’t I buy a drink, I can’t buy postcards or make a call because the freakin counter had no change for 10 euros!

But the place is absolutely beautiful! I fell in love with it instantly.

My first Italian breakfast!  In Italy, there is bread in every meal and I mean every meal. Not that I'm complaining though. Their bread is so yummy!

During our break from the session, Ricardo, our volunteer, took me and my group to the top of the roof to see St. Peter’s church. I’ve always wanted to visit that place! Its been my dream to see the Vatican and visit the most famous church in the world!

I really hope I could visit that place someday *sigh*.

At the end of the session, we all said our goodbyes to each other as we went our separate ways to meet our host families. I was really, really nervous at that time because I was afraid I might not recognize my host family or they might not pick me up from the train station.

Come to think of it, I guess that was kinda silly, huh?

I took some pictures on the way to the train station from the bus. Once again, here’s st. Peter’s church. *sigh* So near, yet so far…

The roads are so clean and the cars are so adorable!

I don’t know what’s this place called, but Lorenzo said it’s a famous court or some sort.

Everything is simply beautiful! I love Italy :D

Sorry for the VERY late update, but I’ve been busy settling down in my new home for the next 2 months.  When I finally took the train to Avellino, my heart was beating fast because I really hoped my host family would like me.

So when I stepped off the train into the cold dark night, I got very worried when I saw no one there. I can’t speak Italian, my phone was dead and I didn’t have any small change to call if there’s a problem. I don’t know if it was the cold or if I was nervous, but my body shook vigorously and my teeth was chattering… you know what? I think I was cold after all.

Anyway, I found a bench and sat there for about 10 minutes before a lady holding an AFS poster with my name on it approached me. That’s when I met my host mom.

I was so relieved! I haven’t introduced you to my host family, have I?

My host family is a family of four, just like mine. There’s my host mom, Genoveffa, host dad, Pasquale, my host sister (I finally have a sister!), Lia, and my host brother, Raffaele.

I liked my host family instantly. They are so kind and generous. When I first arrived at their home, they gave me a brand new coat, hat and scarf because they knew Malaysia is a hot country and they were concerned that I’d get cold here.

I was so touched. I can’t imagine buying things like these for complete strangers. As I was preparing for bedtime, my host mom asked me if I had pyjamas. I told her that I planned to wear my track pants and the cardigan that I was wearing.

She simply shook her head, took out a box containing a set of new pyjamas and gave it to me! The pyjamas is so warm and comfortable. I never thought anybody would be this generous and kind to outsiders like me. 
A complete stranger whom they barely know and they've welcomed me into their home and gave me clothes because they were concerned about my well being.

Apparently, my host family couldn't speak English very well. I discovered that they've been using Google translate when e-mailing me. Luckily, my host sister, Lia, could speak English just fine. Not that great English, but good enough for us to communicate with each other.

I feel so lucky to be in this family.

So anyway, we had dinner of Margarita pizza. It’s a classic pizza in Italy and I really liked it! Really.

I had no idea that I’m supposed to have one whole pizza to myself. I also found out that apparently, Italians eat quickly. And I mean really quick. Everybody else had finished their pizza while I was only halfway through my first slice! 

And trust me, it was a very big slice of pizza.

The slice of pizza was actually enough to fill my tummy, so I politely declined the rest. I really couldn’t eat anymore because I had an apple, a big sandwich, yoghurt, and more bread on the train.

In the house, I saw a fireplace! An actual fireplace that works! My host dad or brother would take firewood from outside the house and put it in there. I know it sounds silly, but I was really fascinated to see a real fireplace that is fully functionable to heat the house.

Raffaele told me that the heat from the firsplace goes round the whole house because there is a heater in every room. The heat from the fireplace would travel through the pipes and out the heater so that it’ll be nice and toasty in the house.

I didn’t have an adaptor for any of my gadgets so I had no choice but to use my host family’s computer at the moment. The keyboard is slightly different from the keyboards in Malaysia. So it took me some time to find the keys and letters I needed to e-mail my family.

In Italy, some of the symbols such as @?()&;*% are in different places and there are also other symbols I’ve never seen before. Its probably an accent which is read differently.

The next day, I had to go to school. I’ll blog about it the next time. Ciao!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Ready for Italy!

As most of you guys would know by now, I'm going to Italy for the next 2 months! I'm really excited and for the past few days, we've been shopping for some winter clothes and other essentials for the trip. Here's some of the stuff we bought.

From the letter I received, it says I needed to bring along a traditional costume to show the Italian folks. So my mom wanted to get me a Nyonya costume because I'm actually from a Nyonya heritage. For those who don't know, the Nyonyas were actually a mix of Malay and Chinese royalty back then.

Nowadays, there are very few Nyonyas around, but my great grandma is a Nyonya. We could hardly find any nice Nyonya traditional outfits in KL, so we went to Melaka to find it as the Nyonya people originated there.

Luckily, we were able to find PLENTY of beautiful Nyonya clothes and its in such good quality (unlike the lousy ones we've found in KL)! There were a few outfits, but I've finally made a decision and here it is!

What do you think?

The thing is, its gonna be winter there, so I hope where ever I'm going to might have heaters so that I won't freeze my butt off when I wear this outfit there. Still, it is a really nice outfit. Maybe I'll wear it for Easter day next year when I'm back in Malaysia.

I also got a few stuff mainly from Mid Valley. Mostly long sleeved shirts and some sweaters. And some jeans. I'd usually go for Levi's jeans for quality, but this time, I've found a better place to look for jeans. 

This time, I got my jeans from Dorothy Perkins. Their jeans are super comfortable, its good quality and it costs less than RM100 (probably also because its on discount). I should've gone looking for those jeans a long time ago!

Here we have my scarves, hat and gloves. I'm gonna be nice and toasty there!

And then we have my jackets, sweater and cardigan. Of course, not all of them are new. Some were the same jackets I use whenever I go to Australia.

I am, however, pretty glad I have a trench coat. I feel like a flasher!

Then there's my favorite...

I swear! I did not plan to buy 2 boots. Even though I got them both for less than RM150 (I absolutely LOVE sales). I planned to get only one because I know its gonna be cold there and I couldn't wear any of my formal shoes cuz they're all strappy heels and my feet will be frozen for Christmas and New Year. 

But because Aunty Margaret wanted to get me something nice and we were stuck between the two boots, she decided to get both of them for me (don't worry, they were waayy below her budget). Thanks a lot Aunty Margaret! I love you!

I also got two thermal clothes (or Long Johns as most would call it, or long underwear if you wanna make it sound even more un-sexier). But its really amazing stuff because even though the cloth appears thin, I can actually sweat in an air conditioned room with only that thing on!

While we were shopping, I was really hoping I could find something nice to wear for Christmas because apparently, the dresses I have are not appropriate for the weather and the material might cause static shocks. It was only on the last day, I've found the PERFECT dress which is pretty, festive, warm, and comfortable!

Check it out! This is what I'll wear this Christmas.

This is what it looks like on the outside. But on the inside...

Tada! I told you I feel like a flasher in a trench coat, right? But anyway, what do you think of the dress? Its made of wool, so its very warm (trust me, I was already sweating when I took the picture). Its in a festive color, which is red, perfect for Christmas and it doesn't cause static shocks! 

Its the perfect winter dress!

I'm really excited about the trip to Italy. I've been communicating with my host sister. So apparently, my host family is a family of four; a mother, father, brother and sister. I'm quite relieved that my host siblings are about the same age as me. The brother is 17 and the sister is 16! Just like me and my brother!

They also live in a villa and I'll be going to Campania, which is South of Italy (thank goodness its warmer there!). Its also near Naples and its not too far away from Rome. 

Oh I really hope I could visit Rome!

I'll be going to an Italian school and I'm very nervous about attending their local school as a foreign student. I hope I'd be able to make as many friends as possible and maybe fit it with them. This is like 'The New Girl' feeling in school all over again! 

I hope they like me.

Updates maybe a little slow for the next couple of days because I'll be off to Italy this Friday. I'm feeling excited and nervous at the same time. 

Wish me luck and Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Dear Santa

I'm beginning to think you've been reading my letters wrong every year because you seem to be getting me the wrong things for Christmas. Not that its a terrible gift or anything if that's what you think. But I think its time you get yourself a pair of reading glasses.

This year, I'm not gonna ask you for any gifts because obviously you need to work on your reading skills before you disappoint me again. But lets review the things you got me for Christmas since the day I first learnt how to write, shall we?

When I was 4,
I asked for a Barbie doll. You gave me a doll, alright. But it wasn't a Barbie doll, it was a rag doll.

I understand that men can't really tell the difference about girly stuff, but really? A rag doll?? Geez...

When I was 8,
I asked for a coloring book with plenty of crayons. It was also that year when I begged you to stop giving me clothes because that's what you always seemed to be giving me every year! Once again, I thought you must have read my letter wrong because you gave me...

That's right. More clothes. Do you have elves that help or elves that sit on the sofa all day long?

When I was 11,
I was finally pleased that you have eventually stopped giving me clothes. This time, I asked you for a pair of roller shoes because all the other kids have it. Instead, you gave me...

Candy. Lots and lots of freakin candy! Need I say more?

When I was 15,
My belief in you was already beginning to deteriorate because you have been giving me the wrong stuff every year. However, I gave you one more chance by asking you for a Makeup set because I thought I was old enough to have one. But what did you give me?

Santa, I understand that a lot of girls get pregnant at my age and I know I did mention that I'm turning into a young lady and all, but SERIOUSLY!? A maternity shirt?? I have totally lost all faith and hope in you.

Its been 2 years since I've stopped writing to you. Back then, I used to write to you with paper. But I have a feeling that its been used as toilet paper for the past 13 years. So I will not give you the pleasure of wiping this entry onto your cold ass because this'll be posted on your computer and I'm sure you don't wanna ruin it, do you?

I'm not writing to you to complain about your past mistakes. OK, maybe a little bit. But the reason why I'm writing to you now its because I want you to give my family a wonderful Christmas this year while I'm away in Italy. Let them not have the Christmas blues because there might be less people to celebrate Christmas with this year, but let them have one of the most memorable ones ever!

Give them a turkey, or give them a roast lamb. Remember to fill all their stockings with lots of presents (PLEASE! No more clothes!) and give them the Christmas spirit they deserve.

This time, no more screw ups. OK?


P.S. Will you do me just one more favor? I would really appreciate it if you could just gather all of Justin Bieber's Christmas albums... and BURN IT. Thank you with sprinkles on top :)

Dear readers, this post is based on a true story. Believe it or not, I've actually received a maternity shirt one Christmas. So to all those girls out there who thinks they've received a weird gift, think of me and be grateful for what you've got.

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