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On both of the Saturdays, carriage-floats created by various community groups and schools snaked their way along streets ornately lined with groups of costumed onlookers. The community band I play in participated on the first Saturday, and the cart we rode on was decorated with colourful music notes, some of which I had helped paint. Apart from being a city, Lecco is also recognized as a province, and the parade was a conglomeration of some of the best floats in the area. Huge numbers of performers accompanied even huger wagons, and they all competed for First Place.

After all was said and done, the big decision was made by a panel of judges and announced by the local Carnevale Queen and King.

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Here are some of the photos I took at the parade rather riskily, given the amount of silly spray and confetti flying in the air! As a self-proclaimed ambivert, I thoroughly enjoy spending the majority of my time in the tranquillity of Samarate, but almost nothing is as fun for me as laughing and enjoying myself with a large group of people when I get the chance… So, when the girls offered to take me dancing in one of the main public squares, I accepted in a heartbeat.

We joined with people of all ages to form a conga line that went on and on and on, gradually fading into the disco-light illuminated mist from some fog machine. At the same time, in a separate square, a group of Country-Western dancers was performing a line dance in cowboy boots and hats. This testament to the growing americanization of pop culture in Europe was a fairly surreal sight! Aside from giving instructions on how to prepare chiacchiere, this website will tell you a little bit more about the roots of Carnevale.

I find them so fascinating! I hope you enjoyed another one of these digital glimpses into my exchange! I hope that you are all keeping warm and cosy over these winter months! Would you believe me if I said that I find it colder here than in Canada? Instead, it was quite the opposite— it came to me with force, washing me into a pool of internal confusion… and the feelings returned in waves for several weeks afterwards.

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I owe a lot to the open minded and kind hearted people who have taken the time to check in with me and to listen carefully when I explain my feelings. My host families played a large role, too, in keeping me busy and thus, distracted and I have a world of gratitude for them. Hmm… this reminds me of a quote that my new host sister and I were talking about the other day:. In my experience, this has been bitingly true.

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On occasion, I find it very difficult to sit in the silence of my room and know that the people who love me most are an ocean away, experiencing change and growth without me. In December, during a particularly bad set of weeks, I messaged my mom to discuss the concepts of power, religion, self-interest, and family among other things. All juvenile existential crises are important, though, and I am grateful to my mom for keeping me from working through it alone.

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Now, after all these hyper-honest descriptions, I should note that the upsides of going through a lonely time can actually be quite significant. One of these can be the unveiling of the true scope of your relationships. Which of your friends are willing to match your efforts to be present in their lives? With which of them do you share common values?

Are you considered valuable by the company you keep? These are not easy questions to answer, by any means, but things become a good deal clearer once you are able to. Several wonderful people made a conscious effort to make me feel wanted over the Christmas season, and I now have a better idea of who I should be concentrating my energy on. The small acts of kindness that those who care for me carried out — asking questions about my favourite Christmas songs, offering of hugs and cookies during break periods at school, etc. My host family was very generous when it came to including me in their activities, too, and I enjoyed spending time bonding with them and their relatives.

It was very much a weekend to remember! This section is fairly self-explanatory. Any amount of time spent in a foreign country can open the door to unique experiences, and my holiday weeks were no exception to this. As a closing note, I want to thank my last host family for all that they have been and continue to be for me. And to you, reading this: thank you for your interest in my exchange and thus, in my life! It means a lot to me. Spero che tutti stiate tenendo caldo durante questi mesi invernali! Precedentemente, avevo creduto che la nostalgia di casa avesse un inizio lento, quasi casuale, e che fosse il risultato di una sola cosa: la mancanza della propria famiglia.

Dopo alcune di queste occasioni, ho inviato dei messaggi a mia madre per discutere i concetti del potere, della religione, delle interesse personale e della famiglia tra altre cose , e mentre credo che questa ricerca interiore fosse stata utile, non posso fare a meno di ricordarmi che potrei aver passato quel tempo a dormire. Ora, dopo tutte queste descrizioni iper-oneste, dovrei notare che gli aspetti positivi di attraversare un periodo solitario possono essere davvero significativi.

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Quali dei tuoi amici sono disposti ad abbinare i tuoi sforzi per essere presenti nelle loro vite? Con quale di questi condividi valori comuni? Sei considerato prezioso dalla compagnia che tieni? I piccoli atti di gentilezza che coloro che si prendono cura di me hanno fatto— ponendo domande sulle mie canzoni natalizie preferite, offrendo abbracci e biscotti durante i periodi di pausa, ecc.

Come nota di chiusura, voglio ringraziare la mia ultima famiglia ospitante. Ho un posto speciale nel mio cuore per coloro che mi hanno aiutato con la mia integrazione iniziale.

E a te, leggendo questo: grazie per il tuo interesse per il mio scambio e quindi, nella mia vita! Significa molto per me. Before I begin explaining, however, I would like to express my thanks for the positive feedback I received on my last post. I am so very pleased to be able to share my adventures with you in this way! Occasionally, I pass by a maple tree, witnessing the intensity of the blazing red branches that I never truly got to see back home.

For those of you who have a moment to spare and wish to read on, you may want to take a seat— I have a boatload of stories to tell you!


Cannoli and a meringue ghost for Halloween, a holiday which has only taken root in Italy within the past couple of years with the Americanization that is taking place culturally in Europe. Ho frequentato alcune corsi di prova in entrambe delle scuole, e mentre mi collegavo bene con la gente, non mi sentivo veramente come se appartenessi a nessuno dei due posti.

Presi un posto alla sbarra, mi concentrai, e mi sono ricordato di respirare, naturalmente. Da quando ho iniziato, siamo suonati in tre processioni, una delle quali era a Milano. Uno di questi faceva parte di un memoriale per il centenario della fine della Prima Guerra Mondiale in Italia, uno faceva parte di un servizio dedicato a Santa Cecilia, la patrona dei musicisti, e uno faceva parte di un pranzo che noi avevamo fatto in un ristorante rinomato in Borgomanero che comprendeva almeno 5 corsi.

Con mia grande sorpresa, ero inclusa! Ricordo ancora come mi sentivo di salire dal mio posto a un tavolo con gli altri giovani adulti per stringere la mano alla moglie del maestro, che sorrise mentre mi passava un altoparlante wireless. Non posso esprimere quanto questo significhi per me. Come addendum al mio ultimo pensiero, dovrei dire che non sono affatto a corto di compagnia o di supporto qui. Ovunque vado, ho dei amici con cui posso parlare, e ho passato alcuni pomeriggi a prendere aperitivi non alcolici!! Ci sono 19 studenti nella mia classe, incluso me stesso, e una decina nella nostra classe gemella.

Gli esami di queste scuole non richiedono molto studio, ma per i ragazzi come me che sono meno pratici, beh … saremmo nei guai. Per concludere, vorrei estendere un paio di ringraziamenti a coloro che mi hanno prestato il sole durante quei momenti in cui mi sono sentito scossa e persa nello shock culturale. Tu mi mostri il valore di non complicare le cose, non per pigrizia, ma per una conoscenza che le piccole preoccupazioni della vita di tutti i giorni non contano molto alla fine. Ai miei nonni ospitanti, grazie per aver condiviso con me le tue conoscenze.

Inoltre, vorrei ringraziarvi per avermi raccontato storie delle vostre infanzie e per avermi offerto oggetti delle tue collezioni, che siano monete antiche, mini capsule di profumo o fiori di velluto cuciti a mano— questi sono gli souvenir che valono veramente la pena di tenere. Ai miei insegnanti, grazie per le vostra pazienze e grandi aspettative simultanee nei miei confronti. Se non fosse per voi che mi spingete a fornire solo il mio miglior lavoro, potrei non raggiungere il mio potenziale.

Ai miei compagni di scambio: grazie per la vostra comprensione e la vostra condivisione delle gioie e delle lotte della nostra avventura. Infine, a Sara— grazie per tutto. Sei una delle migliore amiche che abbia mai avuto, dear. So much has changed since the last time I posted an update— writing this feels like an attempt to funnel the entire Mediterranean Sea into a water bottle! Perhaps I should start by explaining the newly instated structure of my week and the roads I took to piece everything together.

I will put an emphasis on the changes I have undergone, on the relationships I have built, and on a few of the most important things I have learned so far on my journey.