mercoledì, dicembre 10, 2008


(I know this is a little late, but better late than never. I'm constantly playing catch-up with these posts.)
There are a lot of things I am thankful for this year.
I'm thankful for my family, my old and new, without whom I wouldn't be where I am today.
I'm thankful for my friends, especially the ones I'm in Italy with right now, because without you guys I would most defiantly have checked into a mental hospital already.
I'm thankful for Rotary, and the amazing opportunity they have given me. Though it may be difficult, I cant imagine what my life would be like without it.
I'm thankful for warm jackets and scarves.
I'm thankful for Italian food.
I'm thankful for my slight knack for the Italian language.
I'm thankful for the Internet-it can make 7,000 miles feel like nothing.
I'm thankful for the little things.

With having more things than ever to be thankful for this year, us Exchange Students (I can't say Americans, because there were two Australians and a Mexican) decided that just because we were far away from the motherland, it didnt mean that we couldn't use Thanksgiving as an excuse to have a party! So we planned and cooked, and took the day off from school. Our dinner/lunch started at 6pm, but we arrived at Mary's (A girl from California) house around 3pm. We ate in her basement.
The morning before me, Grace, Kylee and John (Virgina, Arizona and Oklahoma respectively) cooked up all our food at Kylee's house. I made Baked Macaroni and Cheese (much more difficult than it sounds! The supermarkets here were not stocked with all of the ingredients I needed (we went to like 4 different ones) so I had to substitute a lot of things!). In addition to my cheesy goodness we had: Turkey, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Stuffing, Creamed Corn dish and Salad. and for dessert we had Flan and Apple Pie. Needless to say we stuffed ourselves to the brim! It was a lot of fun, and different from past years, but I think we upheld the tradition pretty well.

There's a picture from the dinner. I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!

sabato, novembre 29, 2008


This is going to be a long post, so buckle down and get ready.
I went to Cremona! Cremona, which is about 1 and a half hours outside of Milan by train, is not only the birthplace of the violin but it also has the tallest brick tower in all of Europe!(here it is!)
I guess I should start from the beginning of this story(try to follow me here... this might get confusing.)
So in Cremona, there are these Rotary Youth Exchange students. They are in a different district, so when they came to Milano, Grace, Kylee and I took them around our home turf and showed them all of our new favorite places in the city (Which includes our favorite pizzeria, favorite gelataria (ice cream store), and all the big touristy sights, i.e. the Duomo, the naviglia, ect.)

They wanted to return the favor (or maybe we convinced them that they wanted too) so on 11/15/08(Saturday) Grace (another american exchange student who goes to my school and is very nice) and me left to take a train down to Cremona (Kylee was busy). We left around 4pm, and after finally getting on the right train we sat down for what we thought was going to be an easy, uneventful train trip. Our tickets said da(from)MILANO CENTRALE a(to) CREMONA, via(street) CODOGNO.

Now there were no englsih translations, and plus the printing was really small, and the names of the places were really big so about an hour into our trip we stopped at a station called CODOGNO, and Grace and I, assuming that it was our stop after a quick glance to our tickets and seeing the word CODOGNO, jumped off the train. Turns out that CODOGNO is not CREMONA (Codogno was the name of the street in Cremona where the train station was) and we had just gotten off our train about an hour early. We realized this as we watched our train pull out of the station and turned to man and asked(in Italian) "Is this Cremona?" he said, "No, this is Codogno." Me and Grace turned to each other and decided that we should go find another train that would take us to Cremona. So we wander around the station for about 5 minutes looking for the information booth, which we finally we find, and ask the man there which train we should take. He points out the window to a train that is stopped right outside, so we immediately run off and try to get on it. We somehow end up on the other side of the tracks, run back, ask two more people how to get to the train, turn around and look at the information boothman. He is pointing again out the window, but then we realize something! He is not pointing at the train, but at the door that is RIGHT next to him!

So Grace and I, feeling exceptionally smart, get on the train, which happens to be very, very creepy becaues we had to be the only people on it, and it was dark outside (it gets dark at like 5 here). No one got on the train, no one got off the train, and this continued for a good 45 min as we were taken into the Italian countryside. Neither Grace nor I had money on our cell phones (so we couldn't call anyone) so we began to worry quite a bit as we kept going on and the stop for Cremona wasn't showing up. We finally pulled into the Cremona stop, got out, and waited for the Cremonaians to come and pick us up. Which they did in due time, and then we went to chill for a little bit at Margot's house while we were waiting for the everybody to show up. (There are 4 exchange students in Cremona: Margot, Elise, Henry and Brandon.) After everyone showed up we went to go eat dinner (we had this things that are very similar to quesidillas, but they were a specialty of Cremona) and then we went to Brandon's house. After that we went to the center of Cremona and spent the rest of the night there.

(Center in Cremona --->)
Cremona is a great city-it is big enough to have a lot of people, but small enough that the exchange students can actually go out at night there without having their host parents worry that they are going to get kidnapped, sold in to slavery and never being heard from ever again (as it is in Milan.) So on Saturday nights all the kids go to the center of the city to meet up with everyone else. After I went back to Elise's house to sleep and Grace went to Margot's house.
The next morning we went back to the center, where we met up with Margot and Grace. Together we climbed the big brick tower (the tallest in Europe), which had ALOT of stairs, but the view was totally worth it when we finally did make it to the top. We climbed back down, ate some lunch, ate some gelato and then caught the train back home. Our return trip was uneventful, thankfully, so we got back to Milan just fine.

If you would like to see pictures of Cremona, here's the link:

The Last Supper

On 11/8/08 I went with with all the other exchange students in my district here (there are about 25 of us I think) to go see "l'Ultima Cena", or "The Last Supper" by Leonardo Da Vinci. It was so amazing to actually see it in person, not only because of the history behind it but just how amazing it was. It was a lot larger than I thought it was, but now, half a month later, I still feel a little speechless when I talk about it. Pictures are always better than words, so look... and be amazed! (You're actually not supposed to take pictures of the painting (mural would be a better word) because (I think) that the flash of the pictures would damage the painting even more. I took this picture with the flash off, so I don't think I did anything too wrong...)
There it is! The reason there is like, a door cut under the painting is because a long time ago someone thought that there needed to be a door connecting those two rooms and cut one (the building its in used to be a monastery).
I think that this painting is so cool is not only because the fact of that it looks nice, but all of the hidden signs and signals, and how much depth there is to everything. This Leonardo guy is one smart cookie-everything he did meant something. The angles, the shadows, the positions of everyone, the expressions, everything has a reason behind it. I personally am not going to pretend like I know what they all are, but if you want to know, check out wikipedia or something.
Afterwards we went out to get some food and just have a little party wit all the other exchange students, their host family's and tutors. It was a lot of fun. Definitely something I'm going to remember forever.... If anyone comes to Milan, it is a MUST-SEE!

If you want to look at all the pictures from that day, go here:

domenica, novembre 09, 2008

Verona, Como e la dolce vita.

I went to Verona! And Como! Two absolutely GOERGOUS places in italy. The first, Vreona, is where Romeo and Juliet is set. I visited Juliets balcony!
there it is! the AUTHENTIC balcony of juliet! chew on that! the rest of verona is pretty beautiful too. theres this collesium (which i am sad to say i only saw the outside of) and it just looks like italy... the narrow, cobbelstone streets with grand churches everywhere and i just really happen to like that kind of thing, so i know i came to the right country. I was only in verona for a day, but i am sure going to go back! Its again been getting colder, and that seems to be a recurring thing that is happening. its going to get colder, and hopefully there will be some snow in my future! im trying to figure out a way to make this work! The other trip i took was to this absolutely breathtaking lake, the same lake lecco is on but the opposite side. The lake is shaped like an upside down y and on one point of the y there is lecco and the other como. George Clooney happens to have a hosue up there, so you gotta know that its beautiful. dont beleve me? need some photographic evidence?
look at that! i put alot more pictures on my facebook, this is the link to look at them:
just clickon that and you can look at all my como pictures, even if your not on facebook.
and here are the verona ones too, just to toot you horns.
have fun with those.
Right now there is a trip in the making for me up to Cremona, which isint a very big city but from what i heard very, very beautiful! i cant wait to go and see it! life here has been continuing on, with tialian lessons 3 times a week, cooking classes on wednesdays, soccer 2 times a week and fitting everything else inbetween sure keeps me busy! a
tleast they arent expecting me to do too much homework at school yet. I still have some, but not anything like i did back home. i sure that will come... the teachers said that after christmasthey are going to start expecting us to participate fully in their classes! its going to be weird having to pay attention all the time!( im jsut kidding. but not really. it gets hard when you dont understand the whole lesson, and you have to pay attention to every word, and if you get stuck on a word by the time you figure out what it means they have already moved on to a new subject! i hope it gets easier!)
send me some warmth everyone! im going to need it! till next time.... baci per tutti!
italian flag with a really, really old church in the backround! life here is so goergous :)

sabato, ottobre 25, 2008

Say what?

So. Its been awhile and I finally felt guilty enough to do another post. What have i been doing since i last posted? Well, alot of school. And learning italian. (And spanish and german too!) I also went to Monza, a formula 1 racing track (sounds exciting, but it wasnt. We watched formula 3 racing and we were the only people there) with all the other rotary exchange students. I think i would have died of boredrum without the other kids there. It was nice to see all of them again and my highlight of that was going to graces hosue afterwards to spend the night. I also went to a musem-
That is the courtyard and it was very nice. I got to explore it a bit on my own, and it was the first time i had been into an italian musem! It was fun.
I have this school notebook thing where i write my homework and stuff, and also a really quick summary of what i did on that day, and most of theem look like this
"had lunch with kylee/grace. Studied verbs (sometimes Italian lesson or soccer practice goes i nnet there) Ate. Slept. And thats about it! The trees have been turning more brown
(thats kylee and grace... totally a posed picture but still quite nice) And its been around 60-65 degrees everyay. I bought this wonderful and warm leather jacket for only 20 € and i still cant believe what a deal it was. I have been having soccer every thursday night from 9-11 (just practices) and at my first game last sunday i scored 4 goals. It was really fun and i have another game i nabout 4 hours, so i hope we win! School has been going good, i am really enjoying the fact that i have a new scedule and i am actually sometimes trying to follow my classes. I started german, but my classmates started about a month and a half before me so i have a long way to catch up. I just got my textbooks today so now i can start really following class! I just want to say that i really love the other americans at my school. They are fantastic and i dont know what i would do without them. I try to post pistures on facebook, and after i go to veroan tomorrow im sure im going to have a million pictures so go check it out maybe around thursday or sooner. Ill try post on here about it too :). My language is coming along, i have 3 lessons a week and 2 of thsoe are with 4 other exchagne students here and the other one is with this free tutoring place. Its still coming along slow but im learning! Sometimes i feel really frustrated, but then i remember that when i arrived i knew next to nothing in italian and its only been a month and a half and i am understanding about the just of everything that is said to me (if it is said slowly and directly at me.) I dont miss the hot weather of hawaii though, and i hope ill see snow one day here!

I really love italy. Everyone should come here.

mercoledì, ottobre 08, 2008


I really like tea. Its nice to drink becasue it is getting colder outside, and its not really something i could drink in hawaii. My friend got me a box of "22 mixed Teas" for my birthday, so ive been having a different tea every morning and afternoon for the past week and a half. ITs quite fn to try all the different types, and it sure tastes good. The coffee they drink here is SO STRONG too! the come in these little, tiny cups (all the cups in italy are small. i want a huge mug! even if just for water! i have to refill my glass a million times when i drink water at lunch or dinner!) and the coffee is very, very concentrated. Its going to take awhile to get used to.

So yesterday i had my first formal italian lesson with a teacher and some other students. We didnt learn anything that really stood out, only things about singular and plurarls, and about how to prounounce some sets of letters like gli and ce and ca and ga and ge and gu and many, many more. After which i got my first homework for the whole time that i have been here! I have to study and memorize some verb tenses for two different verbs. This should be fun. And in school, yesterday during the day me and the other two girls in my school went down and sat with the teacher to figure out our new scedules. It took, for all three of us, about 4 hours but now i have a shiny new scedule for school! In which i have dropped the classes i wouldnt be able to follow (latin and german 3), classes i didnt need (philosophy and p.e.) and picked up some fun new classes! (german 1). I was going to take Greek, but it is only offered at the other school. Our school has two different buildings which are like 20 minutes away from eachother. So no greek for me, but i DO have 4 hours a week where i am doing a "self study" perios! Im thinking that im going to take a course online or study italian, or maybe sleep. Whatever strikes my fancy. And on thursdays i get to go home an hour early!

Life is good for now. I can start to buy my books for school so i can read up the night before so i can follow somewhat the next day in class, and do something with a little more substance than Sudoku. My tea is ready, so im going go drink that, but im feeling good today!

lunedì, ottobre 06, 2008

La Scalla, a strike and a night of salsa

So monday was my birthday, and to celebrate i went to the Teatro alla Scalla.
Its very nice, and there i watched a ballet. I dont remember the name, and i dont know what it was about but it was VERY cool. An experience. Tuesday i went out to lunch with the other americans here, we had some pizza and got lost. Wednesday i dont remember what happened... I believe i had lunch with Grace on tuesday and on thursday i had lunch with her too. On friday, noone went to school becasue the students had a strike! It was against a new education lady becasue she was trying to change the elementry school, and alot of students didnt like that so me, grace and kylee all went down with a HUGE group of people

thats about half the people. we marched around milan, but the three of us got tired of all the smoke (the italians here smoke like chimmneys!) we we bailed out about an hour in and went to kylees house to eat lunch and watch a movie. That night i went to graces for dinner and returned home very, very tired.
Saturday at school was extra extra boring, and that night i had a sleepover at my host dads hosue with some other americans. We made salsa, burritos, cheesecake and chocolate chip cookies. We chilled on the roof for a little and had a ton of fun. For breakfast we had some crepes with NUTELLA and strawberrys! You people need to try and eat nutella!. It was really good, and i have pictures on my facebook. on sunday i went shopping with kylee and john and bought some really great clothes.

Im trying really hard to update more often!
Milans really been great so far, and i can kidna communicate in italian. Not alot. But i can and i feel like im getting better, little by little. Though i cant really speak english too well anymore! I keep forgetting words!
I start having italian classes tomorrow too so that should really help with learning grammer and more vocabulary.
ciao everybody!
a dopo.... forse domani o mercoledì.
lattterrr. maybe tomorrow or wednesday (that was a translation for all you non-italian speakers. which i believe is almost all of you. but i dont think there are that many yous....)

martedì, settembre 30, 2008

One Month

Im sorry i havent been updating very much... I really do have to work o nthat. Time is flying by here and i cant believe that today is 4 weeks from the day i arrived. Im going to do a quick review for you, so i dont feel so guilty about keeping you in the dark for so long...
Week One: I dont remember much. Everything was pretty much a blur, and i didnt understand much of what was happening at all. It was fun though!
Week Two: I had a rotary meeting the 14th of september. There i met all the other inbounds to the district! there are 25orsomthing of us! We spent the day around milan and i reunited with the other inbound from hawaii. I met the other kids who are goign to my school! I started school the 15th. My first day was intersting... But not much happened.
Week Three: What a week! With school 6 days a week from 8am-1pm, that took up alot of my time. It got quite cold and i had to go out and buy winter clothes. It was expensive! But worth it... Very much... I got a haircut this week. Very nice. I found a soccer team to play on here and this week i had my first practice. Its very fun, but the practices run late! They are from 9pm-11pm, but thankfully the "field"(its more like turf with sand" is only about 2 minutes walking from my house. That saturday i went to the birthday party of my host sisters who is in new york right now best friend. It was fun and i practiced my italian. Officaly broke by the end of this week!
Last week:This is when the fun started. I finally found the other exchangers at my school! (At which i am still waiting for my schedule to be fixed.Im in all the wrong classes! It is so boring!) We have been hanging out almost everyday after school. One day last week we went walking around milan (the 4 of us) and saw some pretty cool thigns. Like a church decorated with bones, and a nutella crepe! The day after me and one other girl went exploring milano. We had alot of fun. This saturday night i went up to Lecco (a little city about 40 min norht of milan by train) and met up with the other hawaiian and some other girls. It was so muchfun! i spent the night at her hosue and sunday morning went on a bikeride around the lake and later a hike into the mountains. Yesterday, my birthday, i went to the Scalla and saw a ballet. It was pretty amazing! Today after school i went out for lunch and got some tea. This was really condensed and ill come back and post pictures later! It will be better and i will try to update every other day or something!
Miss you all.... Ciaoooo Jody

venerdì, settembre 05, 2008


Ciao a tutti!
I arrived in Milano 3 days ago, and so far everything has been meraviglioso! (wonderful).
(my italian house is on the corner)
The plane ride was long, and the layovers were lonely, but i did arrive safely and very tired to milan tuesday night. Both of my bags made it (i didnt think they would, seeing as i had two nine hour layovers! I thought they would get lost!) And my host family greeted me with a belissimo sign that said "welcome Jody!". It was wonderful! My first day here was quite hectic. We applied for my residency permit, which took several hours, and then we went to my host fathers house for me to see what it looks like. I was very tired! My second day was much more relaxed. I played some cards with my host sisters, and we walked to a street called Corso Buenos Aires. It is very busy there, but very intersting. I tried something very intersting... Melon with Prochutto(ham)! The food here is molto bene! I think today i ate the best pasta i have ever eaten in my whole life :). But back to yesterday night, when my family and i went out to dinner with my rotary counseler at a jappanese restaurant. He is very nice! I ate Gelato di Rizo (Rice gelato. It was so good!)
(at dinner)
Today my host mother had to go on a buisness trip to venezia. So she got a babysitter to take me and my host sisters around to milano (my sisters are 8 e 11). We walked around, to the park in Porta Venezia
(in the park)
We ate some gelato (i had taramisu gelato.... mmmmmmm....) and went to the center of the city.
(see the duomo)
The streets here are so bella! Around every corner there is a suprise, a statue, and just the streets themselves are just amazing. Well we went to the Duomo by foot, and it was AMAZING!

(the front of the duomo. it was like, 50 million times bigger :) )
This icture des it no justice! It was so grand and magnificent.... I also saw the galleria, which is the oldest shopping mall in the world. I turned three times in the eye of a bull or something. It was funny :)

(the front of the galleria)
We then also saw the scalla, and went home on the subway. It was kind of smelly :)

(with my italian sisters)
It is beautiful here and the food is so good... I am learning so much of the language. I have been here for only 3 days and i can actually sometimes but not very often follow a conversation. My host sisters are wonderful, and they are so much fun. Ciao for now, and i do miss everyone at home! ciao!

sabato, agosto 30, 2008


Good News, Everyone!
I have a departure date. My bags are packed. My carryons are packed. I have an "electronic" ticket (which is just as good.) I have a flight scedule. I have everything I need to take with me. My visa is in the mail and I have a tracking number for it.

I am ready.
I am leaving.
In 2 days, 2 hours, 42 minutes and 3 seconds. ( I have a little counter thing :) )
I cannot believe it.

I am departing from hawaii to oregon, where i have a 9 hour layover. From there, I fly to Amstedam (a 10 hour flight) and there again I have ANOTHER 9 hour layover. And then, finally, I fly down to Milan and I will arrive there at 10:15pm. I leave a sunday and arrive tuesday night. My total travel time IS:dumdumdumdumdum 33hours and 16 minutes!!!
Needless to say I have stuffed my carryon full of books. My two suitcases: The first weighs 49.9 pounds and is VERY heavy. My second weighs a more managable 42.9 pounds. My carryon suitcase weighs 29 pounds and my backpack was light enough so i did not have to weigh it.

And I am done. The wait is almost over. In two days this time I will be at the airport saying my final goodbyes.
My visa stilll has to arrive on sunday during the day, because i leave sunday night around 10 pm.

Wish me luck, I shall update again when i am in italy!

martedì, agosto 19, 2008

10 Days

In ten days I will be heading to the airport to fly of to Milan, Italy as an Internation Rotary Youth Exchange Student. This blog will be used to update my friends and family back home and to share with future exchange students my experience :). I figure I should explain how this happened to me, so I will start in the beginning with some questions i get alot.

What is this? Rotary Youth Exchange?
A Rotary Youth Exchange is when someone from any country in the world travels to another country to learn a new culture and possibly a new language for 10 months, or an acedemic school year. The idea is to promote global peace and understanding and it is apart of Rotary, which is an international good-will kinda thing. They sponser a teen (between 15 and 18) to go abroad and host familys in different countrys volunteer to host kids. I will be attending an Italian High School, living with an Italian family and I will most definatly not be speaking english. I am going with little knowledge of the italian language so i will learn quickly.

Why would you do this? Are you crazy? Do you have a case of the koo-koos?
I want to do this becasue when i first heard about this at my school, it sounded so interseting and the more i learn about it the mroe i am excited to go. I have always loved learning new languages and i have also always wanted to go to europe and this is a wonderful way for me to do this because i will get to learn a new culture and eat italian food all year long :) . And yes, people have called me crazy... but not for doing an exchange. For other reasons.

What other countrys can you go to?
You can go to any country in the world that has a rotary club and is "safe". China, for one, does not have rotary clubs so it would be very hard to go there and Afganistan seems like a pretty war-torn country right now so i dont think rotarians would send students there.

Do you have a family yet?
I do, they live in the middle of Milan, Italy. I will have 2 younger host sisters and my host father is a violinist at a very famous orchestra.

Who are you again?
My name is Jody and i was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii and i am spending my Juinor year abroad. I like soccer and reading, and hanging out with my friends.

With my departure so close, it is almost unbelievable. It feels surreal. For now all i can do is pack and prepare, but it feels like yesterday (well, maybe last week) that i first heard about exchange and now it is only 10 days away...

my fingers are sore from typing so i am going to take a break.
Ciao e Baci a tutti!