Wednesday, January 14, 2009

New years twice and the befana

Well since I have Christmas done I thought that I would get started on my blog about New Years...just 2 weeks after the fact.. I'm sorry that I've been so laid back on getting my blogs up I promise that I will start being better about it. The holidays were just kind of hectic and well I'm going to use that as my excuse and not the fact that i was a little lazy and didn't feel like writing almost 3000 words (that's how long the natale post was) on to the computer. so here is what i did in on New Years and what the heck the Befana is.

Well me and ele went to the party that my brother was hosting in Sant'antioco. I invited Lilla to come to the party with as well. We ended up getting to the party about 7:30 ish and there were already people there but because me and ele had slept in that day pretty late and we had to go get Lilla from the train station before we went to Sant'antioco none of us were ready yet so we had to get ready at the beach house. In that house there are really 2 houses. Our house that is upstairs then the house of my Nonna which is downstairs and that is were we were going to get ready and where we were going to be sleeping. Well there was only one problem with that. It was locked and the only key was upstairs so one of us had to go upstairs in the middle of the party, find claudio, and get the key. Well I was nominated to do that so I got to go upstairs while i was totally not ready for the party and search for claudio and the key. Me Lilla and Ele went downstairs and finished (well really we started) getting ready for the party which took us about an hour. Then when we did finally go upstairs we spent most of the night outside because it was SUCH a nice night. I must say this was the best weather that I have ever had on a New Years in my entire life. there was no snow and i was outside in just a sweatshirt the whole night. Which i must say was AMAZING. Ok ill admit I'm bragging just a tiny bit right now because i know that most of you reading this are drowned in snow (can you drown in snow?) and are getting off of school because of "cold days" and my New Years was amazingly warm. but i will stop bragging now because i think if i continue my mom might come here and personally kill me. sooo moving on.

During the party ele had set up the "thing where you sing along to the songs while reading the words" that I totally can not remember the name for right now..soooo..awkward moment.. It was really amusing to listen to all of Claudio's friends singing along to songs that i had never heard of because most of them were in italian. that might explain why i had never heard of them before because i haven to been able to update my Ipod since i got here because well if i load it to my computer here all of my music that's on there now goes bye bye.. sooo no new music for me.. damn.. well any ways.. It was really fun to sing along to them with them because now i understand what the songs are saying and i can actually pronounce the words that are written on the screen (ok .. and now for a shameless plug for the Italian language and how amazing it is.. you read EVERY SINGLE WORD exactly how its written.. its not like English.. you write the word "the way it sounds".. again there is an English word for this but i cannot for the life of me remember what that word is... ) My mouth has adapted to the new sounds that i need to make in the Italian language which is nice.. Well we were mostly singing these duet things where the guys sing one part and the girls sing another part and were mostly pretty sappy but it was fun just the same. a couple of Claudio's guy friends have really amazing voices so that drowned (i have never in my life used the word "drowned" in the same story 3 times lol) out our voices which pretty much sounded like dieing turkeys..

Well for dinner everyone brought some food. mostly "pasta you cook in the oven" (gahhhh such a bad day for English..but its the one with the noodles that are really thin and wide that has cheese and sauce between them and just you cook it in the oven but that's all i can think of because in italian you say "pasta al forno" which means "pasta in the oven"..but there's another word for it that i cant think of...) but i was surprised that there were vegetables there too. i was surprised because it was all kids 19-22 years old and i didn't think they would bring veggies but well there were veggies and some meat as well. All of the food was really really amazingly yummy. I love italian food, who doesn't tho? really its like amazing! Well after dinner we all went back upstairs and we continued to sing and have fun like that. Me and Lilla and Ele were talking to some of Claudio's friends who were all really nice to us...We were just talking for alot of the night which turned out to be soo cool because we were talking all in italian and i could understand everything. Ive also decided that giving champagne bottles to 3 different 20 year old guys is probably not he smartest idea ever because they all started shaking it when our count down got to 30 and by the time we got to 0 and they opened them we all got a champagne bath. It was alot of fun though. oh and the traditional "kiss at midnight" thing they do that here too but you kiss everyone with that 2 cheek kiss thingy. But because of all of the champagne your face ended up VERY wet and stinky by the time you have done that 2 cheek kiss thing with about 30 people lol. After that there were some fireworks that were set off over the sea and that was really pretty. then we talked some more..and then we ended up going to bed around 630 AM which was really late but we were having fun so we didn't go to bed till late.

Well we woke up at around 1 pm which is actually earlier then i thought that we were going to wake up. i was actually dreading going outside because i knew what a mess we had left the house in and i was NOT looking forward to going outside and having to clean it all up. well me and Lilla and ele got ready to go out side but when we got out there ...... IT WAS ALL CLEANED. it turns out that 2 of Claudio's friends (who i still don't know who they are but it doesn't matter i love amo! (means i love you (but like you all..plural..idk)) had cleaned up the entire house. so me and Lilla and ele decided to go down to the beach so Lilla could see it . And i know i said i was done bragging but just once more. i walked down to the beach in jeans and a TANK TOP and i was still hot. i would estimate it to be around 75 or 80 degrees on JANUARY 1ST can you believe that?? well we went down to the beach which was fun and when we got back we had to do a little cleaning and then we had to go back home because Lilla had a train to catch back to Elmas.. well that was pretty much my new years..

I actually celebrated New Years 2 times this year.. how did i do that? well I had another new years party for AFS on January 3rd at the house of a volunteer of AFS. We all rode the train of the bus in my case to a city called Iglesias which is like 30 minutes from my house and then we all listened to music and talked. It is sooo different then our first couple of parties, because we all actually speak Italian now which is sooo cool... well we had pizza for dinner which was really really yummy. It was all of the kids in my chapter plus some volunteers which were really cool.. I don't really have much to say but we did talk and listen to music and take some stupid pictures that i will post when i have some more time.. and it was another really late night for me cause i went to bed at about 6:00 AM because we were all just talking and just chilling ..and idk..that's basically it.. the next day me and Nicola (the volunteer whose house we stayed at) and Nicolàs went to the beach before he took us home...and that was my second new years... and now for that elusive befana??

Well in Italy your Christmas vacation from school ends on January 7th every year because there is a holiday on January 6th. This holiday is called "The Befana" basically the Befana is kind of a mix of Christmas traditions and Halloween characters all in one holiday. well i will explain. On the night of January 5th the little kids will hang socks (think stockings) on the mantle of the fireplace and then the Befana will come down the fire shoot and put candy and other small gifts in to the socks. And i know your probably all thinking of a pretty woman right? NOPE she is UGLY. she is old and has a huge nose and is dressed like a stereotypical witch (think Halloween) and she rides on a broom stick. Well in Italy this used to be the holiday that we used on Christmas. They just recently started using Santa clause (babbo natale) to bring the Christmas presents. Before babbo natale the Befana brought the big presents to the kids on January 6th.. Now most of Italy babbo natale brings the Christmas presents but there are still some regions of Italy (Campagna) that use the befana to bring the presents.. Well that is a quick overview of the befana

Well i just reread this blog and i would like to congratulate to everyone who suffered through my horrid English grammar and forgetfulness of my used to be good English skills and made it to this point..

TI VOGLIO BENE (i love you..for friends and family)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Buon Natale means Merry Christmas to you

Buon Natale, means Merry Christmas to you
Buon Natale, to everyone
Happy New Year and lots of fun
Buon Natale may all your wishes come true
Buon Natale in Italy means
A Merry Christmas to you

Far away across the sea
In sunny Italy
There's a quaint little town
Not a clock has been wound
For over a century

They don't know the time or year
And no one seems to care
And this is the reason
The Christmas season
Is celebrated all year

Buon Natale, means Merry Christmas to you
Buon Natale, to everyone
Happy New Year and lots of fun
Buon Natale may all your wishes come true
Buon Natale in Italy means
A Merry Christmas to you

This is officially my new favorite Christmas song as of this holiday season. As some of you may know I do love Christmas songs but they do eventually get old but I must say I am still singing this Christmas song and it is offically 2009. It mixes my Christmas in the USA and in Italy in one short adorable song.

So I know that I've been bad and that its been awhile since I updated on my blog and that it is well after Christmas and I am just now getting to the Christmas post, but here I go with the explanation of my first (but hopefully not last) Italian Christmas.

Well as all exchange students know the holiday time is one time particularly difficult in our year aboard. This is one time that is specifically set aside for families and family traditions. In our homes in the USA (or respective countries) we know exactly what is expected of us on which days, on which days we go visit our families, on which days we are allowed to sleep in, which days we know we need to get up early, what days we open presents, whether we celebrate with family or what foods we eat and at which time, who to buy gifts for and when we open them, whether you open them in public or in private or any of those small traditions that we all know in our own families. but when you are in another family, in foreign country you dont know what is the correct procedure for any of these things so it makes the holiday season rather difficult and strange because its not our normal schedule that we have finally gotten used too after 4 months and we almost go back to how we were that first week when we were still missing our families and being led around like we were 2 years old and when everything was still new. For the week of Christmas you are basically "deported" back to that first couple of weeks, with the exception of understanding the langauge, because you don't know how to celebrate or what is ok and what is wrong for that time of year.. Let me tell you, it's a very strange feeling not knowing what to do and when we do it because when I'm home in Monroe we have done the same things on the same days for as long as I can remember.

It is also very difficult to be away from home at this time of year. This is traditionally a time of year that is set aside for families and for alot of families this is the time of year when you go see your other family members that you might not see very often. But as exchange students we aren't at home we are in another home, with another family. Yes by the time we get to Christmas, we are normally well adjusted, we have a handle on the language, we are closer to our families but no matter how close we are to our families they still aren't our real families and we are still in a different place that especially for me is very different then home.

Thats in general for exchange students for me while Christmas was difficult overall I found that I really did enjoy Christmas here in Italy and that I did have alot of fun. While yes I had fun it was still hard, for me in Italy it doesn't seem like Christmas. It is still warm and there is no snow on the ground. I have lived in Wisconsin my entire life and have come to know that there is snow for Christmas, that its cold on Christmas but here in Italy, there is no snow and it doesn't get cold not even in January. So while my brain knows that its Christmas time it doesn't really accept that it's Christmas time because the things that I see around me are just so different then what I have grown up with my entire life. My body still hasn't accepted that its winter because its not cold like I'm used to around the holidays. While I'm certainly not complaining that its warm its just weird around this time of year when you're so used to one thing for so long your body and brain connect those things so when you have one without the other its strange. Like in my brain when I think of Christmas I think of snow and cold but here its not cold or snowy so the season just feels like its missing something, it feels like its not really Christmas. I'm not sure if that makes sense to anyone else but me, but that's one thing that I felt about Christmas while I was here.. Ok well I guess i should start my story of my 3 day Christmas in italy.

Yes you all read that last sentence correct I said "my 3 day Christmas in Italy" in all practicality Christmas lasts for 3 days in Italy. It starts on December 24th and ends on December 26th. Well this was obviously pretty weird for me because in the States or at least in my family Christmas is one day... Christmas.. the 24th and 26th really don't mean anything except I get to sleep in because there is no school. But in Italy you celebrate Natale all three days soooo here is what I did..

Well on the 24th we got up late because when we don't have school me and Ele both sleep in late because why should we wake up super early if there's nothing to do once we are awake and its super early? So we normally stay in bed until around 11 or noon which is really nice to sleep in because during the week we can only sleep in on Sundays because we have school on Saturdays. So anyway I knew that we would be going to my grandmothers house for dinner so I asked what time we would be going over that day and my mamma said that we would be going over there at 8pm for dinner. Well during the day we prepared the food that we were going to take over to her house and we got ready for going to her house. I told them that these would be the first good pictures that I have ever taken on Christmas for opening presents because for once my hair is done and I'm in nice clothes because it's not just how I wake up on Christmas morning lol. So we went over to my nonnas (gramma) house and when we got there were a whole bunch of people there.. All of the brothers and sister of my papà and their kids where there. All in all there were about 15 of us for dinner, and let me tell you my nonna does not live in the biggest of houses. She lives in a rather small house actually. But all the adults sat at one table and me, Ele, Nicola and Claudio sat at another table because we were the "kids" even though Claudio and Nicola are both over, or almost, 20. Well we all had dinner and I must say the only thing that was weird about the dinner at this nonnas house was the "little birds" when someone goes hunting they bring back these little birds (because to buy them there REALLY expensive) and when you eat them you have to pull off the head (because its still attached) and you eat them that way. They still have all of the guts in them and most people eat the heart and the brain. I must say seeing someone crack open the head of a little bird with their teeth was a bit gross the first time lol. The meat of these birds was actually really very good. Although I couldn't bring myself to try the head. I just couldn't eat the head of an animal (give me a few days..hahah... that story later) So dinner lasted about 2 hours so we were done at about 10:30 but we had to wait around because we open presents at midnight. Well we all waited around and me , Ele, Claudio and Nicola started to watch the Little Mermaid (me and Ele picked the movie) but we didn't get very far into it because "Babbo Natale" came to the house and brought the little kids presents. (I still haven't figured out how they trick the little kids into believing that he brings the presents if they don't go to sleep and the presents just mysteriously arrive at midnight? Oh well it works for them).

So we were all called into the main dining room where all of the adults started handing out the gifts for everyone. For each other it was usually a bottle of Champagne or something like that and for us kids it was either money, jewelry or bathroom things like perfume and lotion and things like that. It was way different to see how they do it from how we do it at my house. at my house I usually hand out all of the gifts and people open them when they want to and the person who gave the gift does not nessesarily watch you open the present. But here when someone gives you a present they watch you open it and then everyone asks to see it. Which I might add when that something is earrings that are in an unopenable box and everyone asks to see it AFTER you have spent 10 minutes opening it the first time and have already closed the box. Well after all of the gifts were handed out they gave everyone champagne and we all toasted in the New Year with champagne and pannatone. Pannatone is a dessert in Italy that is eaten at Christmas time. It has these little pieces of fruit in it that I usually pick out because I personally think they are really nasty but alot of people like them. The actual bread part is really good though. Its really sweet. Well after everyone had opened all the presents from the people at nonnas house everyone started to leave and go back to their respective houses. When me and my family got back home we then started to open the presents from everyone else in our family. It was really fun and overall I felt really included in Christmas. It wasn't as weird or as awkward as I thought that it was going to be which I'm really thankful for. After opening up all of the presents at our house we all got ready to go to bed (by this time it was like 2 am) because we all had to get up to go to Sant'Antioco for lunch the next day at my uncles house.

The rest of the 25th

Well when we got up on the 25th I still had not fully accepted that it was Christmas because my body was telling me "its too warm out and there is no snow its really October not December" Its weird being in a completely different climate then you are used to. It does not really seem like a big thing but when you have associated Christmas with cold and snow all of your life and then you suddenly have warm and no snow its kind of a shock because it doesn't really seem like Christmas. Well me and ele got ready for going to lunch at my Uncles house in Sant'antioco. I got a really big shock when I went in to the kitchen and saw that my papà was cooking a baby pig over the open fire.. No i do not mean pork chops or anything like that . I mean a whole pig with the head still attached where the slice open the stomach and then shove a metal pole up the pigs but and out the neck so that they can slowly roast it over the open fire. (pictures are on my picture web sight :D) I must say this gave me some very unnecessary bio 11 flashbacks that weren't the most pleasant memories to begin with. Well we finished getting ready and we packed up all of the food that we made and the pig and we went to my uncles house which is about 30 minutes away in the car. I must say i now know why we do not travel to relatives houses in the states. it is a pain in the butt to take all the stuff in the car then unload it then reload it again when you need to go home. well when we got there we said hi to everyone and then everyone started passing out the presents. there is no name reading or anything every individual person just starts handing out their presents and you open them as you get them. i must say i missed reading off the names of the presents then handing them out like i normally do at home. Then we finally started eating. Ive decided that I really don't like the "first dish" in Italy much. It is usually little things that all have olives in them or another type of cheese that i really don't like very much. Then the next course was pasta which is really good. but in Italy you need to remember that you have another course of meat coming so you don't eat much of the pasta because you still have to eat meat. well after the pasta came the pig. I'm not going to lie to you i was rather nervous to eat this pig. i realize that it's just pig but i don't normally see the pig with the head still attached so I'm able to pretend that its not a real animal that I'm eating but when they bring it to the table still with the head and the feet and everything you can't really pretend its not a real pig. but i was determined to try it. I took a normal piece that was just from the side or what ever you call it in "meat language ." So i preceded to eat this baby pig which in all reality was not that bad. But the bad part was i got to see my sister eat the head of the baby pig. and when i say head i mean EVERYTHING.. the brain, meat, eyes, tongue, cheeks everything. it was pretty nasty. Well after dinner we really didn't do much just sat around and waited to go home. when we did get home we did nothing because we were so tired and we had done sooooo much eating in the last 2 days we just went to bed early.. but oh wait.. the holidays aren't over in Italy.

on December 26th

Well me and ele put off getting up as long as we possibly could and when we did finally get up we had a half an hour to get ready before going back to Sant'Antioco for lunch at my Nonnas house. When we got there everyone was already there and we sat down for lunch. I must say i really was not hungry even though I hadn't ate all day because I had eaten sooo much the previous two days. So when they were dishing out the soup and the meat I didn't eat hardly anything because I just was not hungry. When you eat enough for 4 days in 2 meals your stomach is basically full for days afterwards.. Well after lunch me and ele started watching a movie on tv. around the holiday season every channel on tv had movies on because everyone is at home . We watched Ele Enchanged in Italian. And I am proud to report i understood everything. I am starting to understand sooo much now and i speak sooo much better. even in school i can write a whole page (front and back) in 2 hours in Italian. I'm proud of my Italian. Well after that we went home and basically went back to bed because we were so tired and so full.. think... thanksgiving people times 10 over .. SOOOOOO much food..!!

Well this is a little sneak peek into my holiday season here in italy. I hope that you all had a happy holiday in the USA or where ever you are in the world... HAPPY BELATED HOLIDAYS