Friday, June 24, 2011

I got the wrong host family...


And they are seem like such a better fit than my old one!

So, my host dad, Giuseppe, is a dentist. I have a stay-at-home mom, Battistina, and they have three kids. I have two sisters, Magda and Egle, who are 16 and 14 respectively, and I have a brother, Silvio, who is 11. I'm going to live in an apartment right in the middle of Cosenza right next to a really pretty church.

Now I'm really really excited! I don't think I've ever wanted the weekend to be over so badly before... xD

Ciao Ciao!!

Thursday, June 23, 2011


So, I my computer crashed today. I had my email open for the past three days because I wanted to see if I got any news from EIL, and then it crashed about 20 minutes ago. I think it may have crashed because my computer just received a super, amazing email and it just couldn't handle it's awesomeness. I know this because just as this happened, my mom brought me my blackberry saying, "HEY!! YOU JUST GOT AN EMAIL ABOUT YOUR HOST FAMILY FROM EIL!!"

So I'm going to be living with the De Benedictis family in Belvedere Marittimo. I don't think I have a host mom because the email didn't say anything about a mom, but I have a host dad who works as a store clerk and I have two host siblings. My host sister, Rosella, is 23, and my host brother, Aldo, is 26. But I don't know if they're going to be living in the house or not because of their age. I can't help but be kind of worried because I'm not going to have a mom and my siblings are so much older than me, but I know it's going to be great.

Well, I leave in 4 days, and I'm super excited! Our program doesn't let us bring laptops or anything, so unless my family has a computer I can use, I'm not going to be able to update this blog until I come back. In case that does happen, I'm going to keep a journal when I'm over there and post it all when I come back.

Ciao Ciao

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Pre-departure stress = NOT FUN


I just feel like writing something for the hell of it... Soo stressed out... I'm preparing for my three exams on tuesday and wednesday which includes a crap load of studying. I have a 6-hour long chemistry review thing and then too many tutors on Monday...

And because of all these exams, I haven't been able to get ANY sleep from studying, so I'm absolutely exhausted, but I can't sleep, because I NEED TO STUDY SOME MORE!!!

And now I have a 102.2 fever, so I can't play in the concert I have tommorow, and the conductor is gonna be pissed cause it's the last concert of the year. I feel like crap, even though I'll probably be fine in a day or two.

And on top of all that, I haven't even started to pack for Italy, even though I leave in about a week. My mom won't even be able to help me because she got surgery the other day so she can't bend down or anything. I need my dad to help me find some suitcases in the attic because only he knows where they are, but he just got a new show that he's working on, so he's been coming home really late, which really sucks...


I know that I probably make this week sound a lot worse than it actually is. I can't wait for tests to be over. There's only three left, which I'm happy about.

I've started to slowly say goodbye's for the summer to some people that I won't see 'till I get home, which is pretty exciting. I promised everybody that I would send a postcard or two from Italy. Maybe I should write them in Italian...

So all I've pretty much been doing lately is studying for my exams and learning some more Italian, which hopefully will give me a head start. Even though I leave in about a week, I haven't heard anything my host family, though I did hear that we'll find out before we leave.

As I'm writing this, I'm shocked to say that I just found a silvery-whitish hair (my hair is dark brown) which is really messed up, because I really shouldn't be getting grey hairs at my age. Maybe it's all this pre-departure stress. Oh well. xD

Ciao Ciao

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Host Cities and Itineraries

Hey!! I kind of disappeared off the face of the Earth... but I'm back now! And while I was gone, as my title says, I got my host cities and my itinerary!!

Orientation - Rome (3 days)

Language Training - Cortona, Tuscany (8 days)

(insert 7 hours of traveling here)

Homestay - Cosenza, Calabria (16 days)

Travel - Ravenna & Venice

Departure - Venice

And now, random stuff about my city, Cosenza (as copied from wikipedia -.-)!!!

Mayor: Mario Occhiuto
Total area: 37 sq km (14.3 sq mi)
Elevation: 238 m (781 ft)
Coordinates: 39°28'00"N, 16°25'00"E
Population: 69,603
Demonym: Cosentini
For anybody who's curious, it's near the toe on the boot of Italy.

Well, that's pretty much it for now...
Ciao Ciao!!

Monday, May 9, 2011

My weird dream...

I haven't been on in... wow, exactly a month. So I just thought that I would share some of my randomness with you:

I had a dream. It was a very nice dream where I just happened to be in Indonesia, in the province of North Maluku. The only reason I know that is because I just happened to see a map in the dream. Anyway, I stood inside a house. It was very small compared to where I live. The room I was in, which was some kind of living room, looked to be about the size of my bedroom. On the ground were white tiles that had a simple green leaf design in the middle of each one. There were people standing around me. A boy, a woman, and an old man. They were all faceless and without names, but I felt as if I knew them all very well.

The room itself didn't have any expensive furniture or anything. There was a couch with a thin, wooden frame and really old, ratty looking cushions. But at the time, I didn't think anything of it. The woman was apparently giving me a tour of the house, because she then brought me into the kitchen. It was really small. It only had a small stove, a sink-like thing, and a table with a bowl full of water. She started to boil the water on the stove while the old man watched. While they were preoccupied, the little boy grabbed my wrist and pulled me outside the house.

I remember the place I was in being absolutely stunning. The house from the outside was a plain white box with a redish-pink colored roof. We were at the base of a hill and I could see hill after hill as far as I could see. The ground was covered in light green grass dotted with houses identical to the one I was just in. Beyond the houses was the edge of a forest, but I could only see the deep green leaves over the rooftops. I remember just looking at the sight for a really long time. I think the boy got annoyed that I wasn't moving, so he turned me around.

The house was right on the water. I looked out into the deep blue ocean. There were a few docks branching out from the land. In the water, there were small sailboats. Some of them had fishing lines coming off of them. In the far distance, I could see the deep outline of a bigger island. And then I woke up.

When I woke up, I remembered this dream so vividly, which never happens with me. I almost felt like crying, having to leave such a beautiful place. I don't believe in any god or internal energies or any of that stuff, but I can't help but think that this was some sort of sign. Maybe my subconscious was trying to tell me to travel to far off lands. To just forget everything and go for an adventure. To just leave everything behind, forgetting all of my worries, and just... live.

One thing I do believe is that your subconscious is always trying to teach you something. And I do think that this is one of those lessons. I can't constantly work all of the time. Sometimes I just need to stop time for a moment and take it all in. But I know that that's impossible. I can't stop time, as much as I wish I could. I can only try my best to enjoy each and every moment to the best of my ability. For even though moments alone are nothing, put them together, and you get a memory. And whether it is amazing or not, it is still a memory that makes me who I am.

In 49 days, my plane leaves for my epic journey to Italy. I know that when I come home after 5 weeks in a foreign land with no direct connection to my family and friends, I will be a different person. And whether everybody at home thinks I will have changed for better or for worse is up to them to decide. But I now know that it's my duty to take in every single moment and turn all of those moments into cherished memories.


Thanks for anybody who got this far into my post. It means so much to me that you took the time to read my post. I kinda went of on a philosophical rant at the end... And sorry it was so long, but I guess I was just making up for the past month of nothingness or something...

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Package from EIL

So now I'm officially going to Italy! And I got an awesome package from EIL! I mean, it wasn't that great, because most of it mostly applied to my parents (insurance, communication...), but there was one paper that made the entire thing great.

I now have my flight itinerary.

It's pretty much this:
June 27
New York 7:00pm -> 8:35am Paris
(1 hour layover)
Paris 9:45 am -> 11:50pm Rome


August 2
Venice 9:45am -> 11:50am Paris
(7.3 hour layover)
Paris 7:10pm -> New York 9:10 pm

Well, that's all for now. I'll update if anything else come up.

Ciao Ciao!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Say goodbye to Asia...

and hello to Europe!

So I had a big talk with my parents and I decided that we would have to compromise. They really didn't like the idea of me going to Mongolia, where the medical facilities aren't that good. So I just thought, Hey. They're letting me go away for the summer anyway. I should at least go somewhere they want me to go, and not make them worry by going to the middle of nowhere.

So now I'm probably going to go to Italy. For anybody that's wondering, the program that I'm now looking into is here. I know absolutely no Italian, but I've been told that it's somewhat similar to Spanish, being that they're both romance languages. So hopefully my Spanish will help me a little bit, but it probably won't. xD

On a side note: For all of those classical music nerds out there, I'm sooo happy because Bob Sherman from WQXR is visiting my school this Wednesday. We're going to play 'Peter and the Wolf' and 'Lincoln Portrait' and it's gonna be AWESOME!

Well, I guess I'll post when there's anything new going on in my life...

Bye bye!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

>.< So stressed.....

(Note: I probably write too much useless stuff on this blog...)

Two quotes... Two small quotes are the cause of all my stress....

"Street crime is common in Mongolia, particularly in Ulaanbaatar, the capital. Most of the street crime is non-violent, but violent incidents do occur regularly."

"Medical facilities in Mongolia are very limited and do not meet most Western standards, especially for emergency health care requirements. Many brand-name Western medicines are unavailable."

My mom just had to on the government travel website and she just had to look up Mongolia... She still thinks I'm completely crazy for choosing Mongolia over France or Spain or something... But I don't feel like talking about depressing stuff, so I'll tell you about useless stuff happening in my life! Yay!

For any of you (most, if not all, of you) that don't know, I'm the lighting designer at the teen center I go to. The show that we're doing is 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. So today, I finished hanging all of my wonderful lights. And they're super awesome and amazing. If you saw them right now, you would be sooo jealous...

My school is finally thoughtful for once. They decided to have big, empty water coolers in the school lobby with a sign saying "Donate Money to Japan" or something like that... But they only decided to do something after the asian club already had. It is said in Japanese legend that if you receive 1,000 paper cranes, then you get to make a wish. So they were selling origami paper and paper crane-making lessons for $1 each. And I made a crane, but it didn't turn out too well... I hope the legend doesn't say anything about demented paper cranes...

I'm awaiting the return of my English essay... I handed it in about 1 1/2 months ago. I'm told that my English teacher tends to take a really long time to grade essays, but SERIOUSLY! So I still need my essay back, I need to study for my Chemistry test in 2 days, I still need to register for my classes next year, but I'm procrastinating by writing this post.

Well, I should probably go now...

(I would say goodbye in Mongolian, but I have no idea how.)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Decisions, decisions...

So me and my dad were talking about possible country options. We were talking about Mongolia and Thailand.

Dad: If the radiation in Japan is under control, than I'd feel better sending you to Thailand.
Me: And if the radiation's not under control?
Dad: Then I'd feel best sending you to Colorado.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Bad just turned into Worse....

Something I wrote on a forum a little while ago...

"I really just feel like crawling into a corner and crying right now... I just finished talking with my mom and she said that because of the radioactivity, even if the exchange to Japan isn't cancelled, she wouldn't let me go there. And I see where she's coming from, I really do.

So I told her about South Korea, but she didn't like that idea because of it's proximity to Japan. She said that she wouldn't be surprised if there were radiation levels detected in Korea. I just really don't know if Korea's gonna be an option either. Right now, it's not only the organization saying that the program's ok. My parents are way stricter about the safety issues.

She wants me to go to Europe or Australia because she says that they're "safer" and "more stable." I looked through the programs that my organization offers again and I saw that they offer Mongolia, so now I'm thinking that it might be a good option. And they are far, far away from the ocean and Japan. I just hope my parents agree...."

So I'm really sorry for all of those who came to this blog searching for a cool trip to Japan, but it's just not going to happen. Even if the program continues, my parents said that they definitely won't allow it. So now I just might push for Mongolia. I'm too lazy to actually say what the Mongolia trip is all about, so I'm just gonna link it here for anybody that's curious.

I'm really upset that all of this is happening in my year of all times, but you can't change the past. You can only try your hardest for a better future. I'm not really a believer of any gods, but my mom told me right before she left to go to bed, "Everything happens for a reason. Maybe you just weren't meant to go to Japan. Maybe you were meant to have extraordinary experiences in a different country."

So I'm probably going to make a new blog for everybody that still wants to follow me, as I'm not going to Japan anymore. Once I find out my new country, I'll post and I'll have a link for my new blog.

See you later.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

It's not looking so good...


Japan's not looking so good right about now. EIL was super awesome and called my mom and had a long discussion with her about the situation. What's going to happen is for the next 10-14 days, the program is still on. If the conditions are deemed unsafe for students after that time, than the program will be cancelled. :(

But it's not a total loss! If my program is cancelled, which I'm sad to say that it probably will be, than I get to choose any other program that they offer and I automatically go to the top of the list. I'm actually starting to lean more towards Korea than Thailand or China.

But let's not think about that now! I will get back to you about this topic in around 2 weeks and I'll tell you my plan.

See you!
당신을 보십시오!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Bad News: 2, Good News: 0

So.. I bet everybody who has a blog is making a post with this topic. So, I'm not quite sure what I'm going to do. I mean, the earthquake and tsunami were bad, but not bad enough to stop an exchange. But then the nuclear power plant decides to go and explode...

Well, I know that there were some Rotary clubs that cancelled their exchanges, and AFS severely postponed the yearlong exchange, turning it into a semester exchange. Too bad you can't really do that with a summer exchange. Hopefully, I will still be able to go to Japan, but at this point, I really don't know. I emailed EIL a couple hours ago, and I am impatiently waiting for them to respond.

So, for all of you that haven't had their faces glued to, earlier today, the wind started to blow the leaking radioactive particles out to sea where they would dissipate before they reached California. But now the wind started to blow south. Right towards Tokyo. There are some scientists who say that the particles will dissipate before they reach Tokyo, but I personally think that is a load of crap.

According to an article I read (I'll link it at the bottom), the radiation levels around Tokyo have risen 40 times their normal level. Even though this level is "no threat to human health," it is still enough to cause a panic. Foreign embassies are encouraging foreign citizens to evacuate Japan and to avoid traveling near Japan.

I hope this clears up, I really do. But the sad thing is, it may not. And I'll just have to deal with that. The really bad thing is, if Japan doesn't pull through, I don't know if I'll get to choose a different country to go to this summer, or if I'll have to wait until next summer. But I have a couple countries as my backups. My first is Thailand and my second is China, both of which will probably not get any of the radiation from Japan.

And just so you know, I haven't forgotten about the Philippines!! I have about 1000 pictures and I'm still looking through them because I can only post so many. So a post about that will be up soon. And I'll update you about this summer as soon as I can. And in case anybody was wondering, I heard from my friends in Davao. It turns out that the tsunami had weakened by the time it hit them, so the beach waves were just a little bigger than normal.

See ya!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Earthquake in Japan

This is just so surreal. It's the kind of thing that I never would've imagined would have ever happened. I was in Japan only 3 weeks ago. And then, everything was fine. Everybody was living their normal lives, doing whatever. And now, everything is destroyed.

When I went to the Philippines, we visited Davao. I've heard recently that the tsunami hit Davao, but I have no idea how bad it was. I haven't hear back from anybody yet, but I hope to soon. For all of you that have friends in Japan or any of these costal areas, or if you are there yourselves, I wish the best for you. This is a hard time, but I know that we will pull through not as Japanese or any one nationality, but a species as a whole.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A email from EIL


Yay! I'm happy!

I got a super duper awesome email today!! It's from EIL! It's a japanese language form to gauge my japanese skills and artistic abilities. My two favorite questions... "What Japanese anime/manga do you like?" (and they only give you two lines!) and "Make a freehand drawing...blah blah..." Any form that asks you to doodle is good by me!

So, I'm gonna try to get this filled out soon. This email just makes this whole experience seem more... real. There are now officially Japanese people making anime workshops and language training stuff. :D

On other news:
Bus tour tomorrow! In short, I miss about 4 hours of school and hop on a bus with the school orchestra to go to one of the elementary/primary schools and we play music for students and teachers!!

On more other news:
I'm leaving for the Philippines in two days. Two days. For 8 days without my parents! Well, I got my nice traditional dress tailored and I have all my paperwork ready. Now I just need to survive the 25 hours of flying!

Weird news, I'm gonna be in Tokyo!!!! But only for two hours. xD We have a two hour stop over at Narita Airport. If people really want pictures, than I guess I'll post some...

Jya ne!!!
(Me being too lazy to swich
to Japanese text...)

Thursday, February 3, 2011


Just a list of tickers counting down to all the stuff going on in my life:

Wonderful Money

Hey everybody who reads this bog! I have news that's kinda exchange related! So, for those of you that didn't read about this in my earlier post, I'm going to the Philippines in..... 14 days! Or a little over 2 weeks! So excited!

Because I'm going out of the country without my parents, I needed to take care of paperwork and stuff.... (xD I have no idea what's going on with my visa. My mom's completely taking care of it) The thing I'm super happy about is that I now have money!!! Lots and lots of money!! My dad got me a Visa card! And it came in today!

The funny thing is that my dad has a thing on his card which only lets me take out a set amount at a time before the bill is payed. He kinda forgot to set an amount in that section, so the standard amount was used.... Which is way more than I could ever use in a month, cause I really don't spend that much.... And it's so much that I really don't want to tell you the amount because I really don't like talking about large amounts of money.

But I'll give you a hint: I have enough access with this card that I can probably buy a really good used car on credit... But if I did that then I might put my dad into a yucky debt. xD

On a side note, the first school semester is OVER!!! And I didn't fail math!! YAY!

And for the people who came up to me and had NO IDEA what じゃね means, it means see you later and is pronounced "jya-ne." So...


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Anime Night

Soooo.... I'm really bored, so I'm going to update my awesome blog...

And before I continue, this post contains minor spoilers, so I guess don't read it if you don't want to. xD

So this post is about the wonderful Anime Night at the teen center I go to, called Levels. So because the only gifts that I ever get from my parents are anime related, I was in charge of bringing stuff. We saw two movies of awesomeness:
-----------Howl's Moving Castle-----------

I think that this is a pretty good movie for both kids and adults. I remember my friend, Kurry, kept on saying "OMIGOD SO SEXY!!" whenever Howl came on. We wanted my other friend, Emi, to comment on something, too. So whenever the castle came up, she would say, "What a wonderful work of architecture." But I must say, my favorite part is when Howl's hair color is sadly changed. HE LOOKED SO GOOOOOOD AS A BLONDE!! >.<>
--------My Neighbor Totoro---------

Aahh!! This was such a cute movie!! It's more of a little kid movie, though. Me and my friends all looked forward to seeing Totoro defy the laws of physics. And you can't forget about the wonderful Catbus!! The really cool thing is that when Howl was made in '04, this movie was animated in '88! And I must say, Studio Ghibli really outdid themselves with the animation for this movie. The visuals are really good. :D

Ok, I'm done. =) I like making posts look unnecessarily pretty and neat. Soo... uh... I think that's all. Not that there was really that much to talk about in the first place. Just a small warning, I'm gonna guess that half of these pre-exchange posts are going to be on random stuff that don't relate to exchange what so ever...

Now, for anybody that might care, RANDOM STUFF THAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN SOON IN MY LIFE!!

-Strangely, my American and Chemistry mid-terms aren't during mid-term week (next week)...
-The next Levels musical has been chosen: The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, and
-Sadly, I won't be able to be in it because my grandma is turning 90, and her celebration is the weekend of the show..... wow, that makes me seem like a total jerk, but you get what I mean...

Ok, sorry for babbling a little... :D
And now for my ticker:

Sooo looong!!


Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Doctor's Office

Soooo today I had to go to the doctors!! Yaayy!! So, I needed to get a Typhoid shot. I know that typhoid's not really a problem in the US, but I'm going to the Philippines in a month. And it is a problem there. And now my arm hurts. Getting stabbed with needles is not fun... xD

I got stabbed a second time in my left arm. It was my TB test, which I needed for a doctor's form for my trip to Japan. And that one really hurt. A lot. But how that works, they injecting this... jelly thing... into my arm, and now there's a small bump there. If my skin is completely flat by Monday, than I'm fine. If there's still a bump, than that means that I need to pay another visit to the doctor's because I may have/may be susceptible to getting tuberculosis... Not fun. But hopefully, all will turn out ok!

Now, more on my trip to the Philippines for those who were curious. The thing is, my friend is half Indian, half Filipino. And one of her Indian cousins is getting married in the Philippines. Of course she's going to go see the wedding, but she wanted to bring a friend this time. So she asked me! And my mom said yes! And now I'm going to go to an awesome Indian wedding over my February break. :D

On another note, I'm super happy because my dad just bought me a new blackberry. It's awesome because it'll work in the Philippines and in Japan! xD


Monday, January 3, 2011

My Glorious Intro...

Hey! This is just an introduction post. My name's Lauren and I will be spending a month in Japan with EIL.

Edit: I got a question about EIL. It stands for Experiment in International Living and the website is

The program specifically is called "Japan: Japanimation: Exploring Japanese Culture through Anime and Manga," which pretty much means I'm gonna be learning how to create anime, while staying with a family, all while learning the language and culture.

I must say that once I'm actually in Japan, I have no idea if I will ever be able to post, or if I'll have to post everything when I get back or something crazy like that....

But anyway, my forms are looking pretty good. I got everything I need to be signed, signed. I just haven't emailed it all yet. And my mom sent in a form for the doctor yesterday that's due at the end of the month. Hopefully it won't take him two years to send it back... But other than that, everything's good. I'll try to update often.. i guess.. even though my life's not that interesting...

*Sorry, I'm still trying to figure out all of this blogger stuff..*

Well, until next time!