Monday, October 28, 2013

The Only People I Can Relate To

The beautiful hotel

So if the title wasn't enough info for you I was talking about AFS kids. It's hard to describe, but once you become an exchange student, you automatically connect with all other exchange students on a whole other level. It's insane actually, like I've known most of these people for a couple days but we all love each other anyways.

Last Saturday I hopped a 4 hour bus ride to Palermo with two other AFSers in my local chapter. We were headed on our way to a 4 day "entrance camp" at a hotel with 75 or so other kids who are currently in Sicily. I had mixed feelings as we first drove up... Yay, I'm missing school! Wait, who are all these people? I don't remember anyone.. Will I be the only one with any problems? What if everyone else is having a perfect time??!??!?!

My favorite people(:
Well this camp beat any mixed feelings I had out of me because it was AMAZING. It's indescribable. To boil it down:
1. No, I am not the only one with problems. In fact many people are having a much harder time than me. The good thing about this is I appreciate my amazing host family and friends much much more.
2. My Italian is quite good; there are a lot of people (most asian, but it's more excusable for them because their languages are SO much different) who can't speak a lot more than "ciao".
and 3. AFS students are awesome.

Okay so basically this is what the weekend looked like:

Saturday: We all arrived and then had a group meeting where we talked about expectations and rules and such. After that we switched into our smaller groups for the weekend. I ended up getting the best group in the whole camp (in my opinion ;) ). Most of the people were spanish-speaking and were very good at speaking Italian, which was great because we almost always spoke Italian, and I found out that I'm actually good at speaking it! Anyways, after our first group activity we ate dinner and then split into countries to make a poster representing our culture. All of us US citizens (everyone at the camp refused to call us Americans because, and I quote, "the USA is not the only country in America") got together and drew the US and our respective states.
Mai (from Thailand) in her Thai
Boxing outfit and me 
Sunday: We woke up and had breakfast, then split into groups and did some activities. After that we had lunch and then more group activities. And then the rest of the day we had personal interviews. A personal interview is when one AFS volunteer sits down with an AFSer and talks about what problems they may be having and if they like it here. I was lucky to get Carla, the head of the camp. She had previously told us that she went to the US 16 years ago, but only after sitting down and saying "I'm from Minneapolis, Minnesota" did I learn that she had gone to Mankato, Minnesota! So we had a lot of fun talking about Minneapolis and snow and that I miss my dogs and parents a lot. She was so understanding but also helpful; giving me tips and ideas to make my stay here better. My interview was probably the highlight of my weekend. After that we just had dinner then hung out.
A girl from China in the talent show
Monday: Monday was great, basically free time all day to hang out and be crazy. I really got to know a lot of people that day. Then at night we had a talent show, where almost everyone participated by doing something (like dancing, singing, painting) that was part of their culture. This was so much more fun than anyone expected it to be and we all danced and sang in all different languages which was crazy fun.
Tuesday: Departure day. Very sad. Not much happened, just ate breakfast and then took the bus home.

I think I learned a lot from this camp, in fact I know I did. Now I am so much more confident in speaking, and it's made an impact on my life. It's easier to hang out with my host family, in school I'm always laughing and talking with friends, and I feel better in general. Turns out, no one is going to laugh at you for not knowing how to say something (I know, crazy right?).

Anyways, that's the update! Right now I'm writing this before starting on some homework. This week we only have 4 days of school because of All Saint's Day. Also on Thursday night I'm going to a Halloween party that STARTS at midnight. I'm becoming a normal Italian teenager :)