I cannot believe it has taken me three months to write my first blog post, but most importantly I cannot believe it has already been THREE MONTHS (well on Saturday).
ARRIVAL: On the 19th of January 2019 I departed from Sydney airport, on my way to Altamura, Italy. it took three flights, two five hour layovers and what feels like three days to arrive here in Altamura, but I eventually made it. when I arrived in Bari airport I had a bit of a panic as my host family was late to the airport and my host sisters weren’t answering their phones, I only had to wait about 15 minutes but I swear it felt like longer. lucky for me Bari airport is TINY so there was no chance of me getting lost. when I arrived at my new home I was welcomed with the Australian national anthem playing and three big smiles waiting to greet me (only my host dad and one of my host sisters came to the airport to get me). The night of my arrival I (reluctantly) agreed to go out with my two sisters to meet all their friends. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever felt so tired in my entire life, we got home at around 10:30 pm and I fell straight asleep. the next day (lucky me) I had my first day of Italian school at “Liceo Scientifico e Linguistico statale Federico ii di Svevia.” Despite barely being able to keep my eyes open I had a really great first day of school.
FAMILY: During my entire year I have one host family, the Aliani’s: My host dad Salvatore, Host mum Maria Giacinta and my three host sisters Mavi and Sara (16) and Silvia (3). They’re such an amazing family and I feel so at home with them. Even though I’ve only been living with them for three months it feels like I’ve known them forever!
CITY: I live in the city of Altamura (Puglia) also known as ‘la Città del pane’ (the city of bread) as it is very famous in Italy pretty much only, for its bread. The city is extremely beautiful and historical, but quite run down (I don’t think the local people realise how beautiful and historical their city really is, so they kind of take advance of it and don’t really restore or look after it too much). The main attraction of my town is the ‘Duomo di Alamura, Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta’ (the cathedral) it is a beautiful cathedral built by Federico ii di svevia in 1232, which is one thing the town is VERY proud of and it is very well restored. I love my city and I am so incredibly grateful to be living in such a historical place.
JANUARY OVERVIEW: My first month in Italy wasn’t very eventful, thank God (again, I was extremely tired, for a very long time). For the first three weeks or so I was moving around to every class in the school (literally) and doing mostly just English five hours a day. Oh yeah by the way, my school schedule is great! I start school everyday at 8:15 and on Monday and Saturday (yes Saturday!!!) I finish school at 12:15 and from Tuesday to Friday I finish at 13:15! Anyway, I moved around to every class in the school and basically did no school work for almost a month, it was good and bad. good, because I met every person in my school and made heaps of friends but (very) bad, because I think that it really slowed down my learning and didn’t give me a normal school experience. Now I only stay in one class, 2i, I REALLY love my class and I’m so happy that I stay with them permanently now.
FEBRUARY OVERVIEW: February was a bit more interesting then January. I went to my first rotary meeting, saw snow for the first time and went to my first family event. February went by so fast, but its so weird because when I think back to February it feels like so long ago but at the same time feels like just yesterday…
FIRST ROTARY MEETING: My first rotary meeting was actually a district meeting! It was a really great day. I met all the other (FIVE) exchange students in my district and all the important rotarians, and overall had an amazing day. The meeting was in the seaside city of Bisceglie, and after a very long conference speaking about the different clubs and their problems and ideas we were treated to an amazing lunch. After lunch we had a walk by the sea and then after that we had another conference with the outbound exchange students (including two of my host sisters). by the time the second conference finished we all got gelato and then finally went home. In my district there’s five lovely girls, two Canadians (Logan and Abi), one American (Larissa), one Finnish (Alisa) and one Taiwanese (Jana). They’re the nicest girls and I’m so lucky to have them all with me (even if they all live like an hour or two away).
MARCH OVERVIEW: March was a VERY eventful month for me. I went to Matera, Palermo and Florence and I participated in the school strike for climate. I feel like march is where I finally settled in properly. I rememberer thinking in like my fist week “oh yeah, I’m totally settled in” but no I wasn’t, march is definitely the month where I really found my group of friends, figured out how everything works here (culturally) and overall just settled in.
MATERA: Matera was the first city I ever went to outside of Altamura which is actually the cultural capital of Europe for 2019! On the 4th of march a district from Lobardia in northern Italy (Milan area) came down south for a tour of Puglia and we met up with them in Matera and had an incredible. I was so happy to find in the (huge) district that there was 5 Australians! We met the district in the town Piazza and started the day with a tour of the Sassi. Sassi di Matera is the ancient part of the town, where it is believed the first inhabitants of Italy ever settled (the town was first built during the Palaeolithic period in the 10th millennium BC) The people (up until the 1950’s!) lived in dug out caves. During the 1950’s the Italian government moved all the people out of these cave houses as the conditions these people where living in was terrible (there was no plumbing, windows, many people lived with their livestock in their houses and many people died of diseases caused from the damp conditions). The Sassi of Matera was the ‘shame’ of Italy at the time, but now is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the south, the set of many movies and the cultural capital of Europe for 2019! I had an AMAZING day with the Milanese exchange students and its definitely been one of the highlights of my exchange so far. I have very few words to describe how breathtakingly beautiful and mindblowingly ancient the city of Matera is, and I’m so happy I’ve been able to visit it.
PALERMO: On the 7th of March I went to Palermo, Sicilia with the class of one of my host sisters. Palermo is definitely my favourite city so far. It is literally SO BEAUTIFUL, but a different kind of beautiful than the rest of south italy. The reason we went to Palermo was for a conference of the Mafia (the mafia is a very, very big problem in south italy. It was weird for me to think about it at first because id only heard about it from the movies but it is very real and a very big problem, even in my town. So we went to this conference to basically inform us on the mafia, they spoke about the effect the Mafia has on people and like why we shouldn’t join). Besides the conference we visited ‘Teatro Massimo’, Cattedrale di Palermo (one of my favourites), the city on Monreale and the city of Cinisi. I LOVED Palermo, its so different than any other city I’ve visited and I really, really want to go back.
SCIOPERA PER IL CLIMA: On the 15th of March I participated in the #fridaysforfuture international school strike for climate. This is something I am very, very passionate about. In my opinion the climate is the most important issue at the moment and being able to participate in this strike was an amazing experience. Hundreds of students from all different schools in my town all participated and it really was something I will never forget.
FIRENZE: On the 28th of March I went to Florence, Tuscany. As you all will know as Florence sone fo the most famous cities in Italy, it is stunning. Again, Florence is nothing like any other city I’ve been. its the fist city I’ve been to outside of the south and it is COMPLETELY different. The architecture, the language, the culture, the food (except pizza and pasta) is completely different. I almost felt like I was in a different country its crazy. I had been getting my impression of Italy only from the southern cities but little did I know, until visiting Florence is that the north and south of Italy are soooo different. of course id heard people say this before but I never imagined how different it really could be. The first place we visited was the Piazza del Duomo. This is the main area of the city where the Cattedrale is. Again the architecture of Florence is incredible and nothing like I’ve ever seen in the south. The Cattedrale is just… beautiful, I don’t have any other words for it (I feel like I’ve said beautiful like 5000 times trying t describe thing, but there is no other way to describe Italy, its just so beautiful). then, we to the uffizi gallery… omg. THE ART! I had seen so many of the sculptures and paintings in books and I’ve learnt about them in class, but seeing them in real life… omg. Uffizi is home to art from all over Europe during many different periods, but mainly the Italian renaissance era. In Florence we also visited the church of Santa Croce, Basilica di Santa Maria Novella, Ponte Vecchio, Piazzale Michelangelo and walked through the beautiful historical streets.
SIENA: On the same trip (the last day) we visited Siena. We went to Piazza del campo, the cathedral, Pubblico palace, and again walked through the streets. Piazza del campo is definitely my favourite piazza I’ve visited. It is so unique and although there was a lot of tourists I enjoyed just sitting there was talking with my friends.
APRIL OVERVIEW: So far April has also been very eventful and exciting. We had international week at my school where students from China, Argentina, Croatia, Israel and Germany came. My school had a big show and I went to Pompeii.
INTERNATIONAL WEEK: International week was great, I met so many new people from so many countries and I got to witness other cultures as well. during the week the students travelled around Puglia and visited our classes and spoke to us about their culture. At the end of the week they had a show where they showcased the traditional cultures of their counties. it was a great experience.
SCHOOL SPECTACULAR: On the 10th of April my sisters and some fo my friends performed in the school spectacular. It was actually amazing. This year is he 60th anniversary of my school and so the show was about two students going through time and each decade had its own singing, acting and dancing performance. the show was held in the city Teatro which is beautiful. I watched the show with my friends Domenica, Roberta and Gianpiero and we had a great time.
POMPEII: Yesterday (15th) I went to Pompeii with my class. Pompeii is such an interesting and strange place. although it is really cool and fascinating place it is also incredibly sad when you think about all of the helpless people who were living in the city at the time. First we visited the ruins of Ancient Pompeii, then after we visited Città di Pompeii where went to the Cathedral. This is my favourite cathedral so far. the painting and art inside are incredible. There was so much colour and it was just amazing. I really liked Pompeii and of course I loved going there with my amazing class.
A FEW THOUGHTS: Writing all this down has made me realise how much more I really need to stop and think about how INCREDIBLE this experience is and how lucky I am. especially to living in a country like Italy with such amazing culture. I honestly have so few words to describe how I feel and to describe how incredible Italy is, and although my exchange hasn’t been perfect, its been pretty close so far. Ive visit so many amazing places in such a short amount of time, and I cant wait to see what’s next. Im so happy and so grateful to be living in Italy, it really is just the most beautiful country, I really cant believe this is my life right now…
ps: most of the photos I wanted to post with this wouldn’t upload.. sorry
My class: 2i
18th Birthday party
Bari- The capital of my region