Sunday, April 19, 2015

AFS Acceptance!

     Accepted! My formal acceptance was about a ten days ago, but oh well! I was on spring break at the time, and was at the beach with some friends, when my mother calls me frantically, I can't hear her in the phone, so I listen more carefully and then my mother shouts, "JAMES....*pant*, YOU GOT ACCEPTED!" I was in an equilibrium between crying out of pain for my victimized ear and tearing from the joy! Since then, I have been OBSESSED with watching youtube vlogs, reading others' AFS Italy blogs, and I am stuck in a constant state of excitement! It is so great to read about others' personal experiences, learn from them, and to watch them go from being a walking american vegetable to being fluent in Italian! I just cant believe that I'll be going to study in Italy in 135 days!

     So I guess I do kind of feel bad for my parents, since I decided not to fundraise, since I applied about 10-15 days before the deadline and it's so tedious to fundraise this late! I guess I am a little lazy, since I seem to think "This is half of my private schools semester!" is a valid argument. Since I only got accepted about two weeks ago, I have to wait until late May or early June to receive my host family; it isn't fair! Since my acceptance, I joined the Facebook group for all of the AFS students going abroad, and two girls (Ella and Ariela) are going to Italy as well. They both have already received their placement, and are conversing with their host families and siblings! I am extremely jealous!

     The other night, I received a call from Sabrina, my returnee advisor! A returnee advisor is someone who previously went to the country in which you are also going to, and they share tips about what to do and not to do while abroad based on their own experiences. Talking to her was a great way to alleviate stress, since I had no clue on what to do about my phone, packing, and of course, money! I found out that I cannot take my phone abroad, unless I want to charge a ridiculous amount to my parents. I actually met a foreign exchange student this week from Japan, named Hiro, and he told me that I can still bring my phone but turn off the data and use it just like an iPod! He also referred me to a cool app called Line, where you can call, message, and video chat with anyone around the world..for FREE! I'll probably try to use that when I do end up messaging my friends, but I guess I do have to stray from that while abroad, because what's the point of being abroad if I'm just going to be messaging my friends and family! I apparently need to pack stretchy items, since I'm likely to gain weight, stuffing my face full of pastas, gelato, and anything that looks edible!

     That's all that's happening to me right now, I hope that you follow my blog so you can look forward to my next post! Ciao! Arrivederci! Goodbye!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Why AFS, Why Italy?

     Wait, what is AFS? AFS-USA (American Field Service) is an international exchange organization based in over 50 different countries, offering students the opportunity to gain a sense of independence, culture, and to expand their global knowledge.
AFS provides intercultural learning experiences that bring global cultures together by helping people connect, transforming the lives of thousands of students, families, and individuals every year. With exchange programs in more than 50 countries and a large network of volunteers, educators, and staff, AFS is committed to helping participants understand their immersion experiences in a foreign culture.
     My decision to study abroad was not a spontaneous one. In 8th grade, my class was presented to about a volunteer mission trip to Guatemala for six weeks. I had never even thought of going outside of the country for anything other than vacation! Of course, I did not immediately go home, research any possibilities of going outside of the country, I just thought that it was pretty neat that someone could leave the country to do cool things! Towards the end of 9th grade, I was  presented with another opportunity to go on a mission trip and was intrigued. Unfortunately, it required being in Spanish III! Defeated, I retreated back into my comfort zone. Shortly after, I received word from my parents that we were moving, to California!

     Moving for the first time was probably the best and worst thing that I could've done, I had never moved before! My first school was too laid back, they offered about two total AP courses, and only for juniors! I was fed up with the school and the idea of studying abroad came to me! Unfortunately, the deadline was about five days away. I decided that studying abroad was right for me! I made a pact with myself to study abroad next year! I could tell you about how I ended up at my current school, but that's not what you're here for! Italy has held a grip on my family for a long time, leading us to be loud, hearty, friendly, and over-communicative! Although there isn't much that I can put in to words to express my feelings, I love the language, food, and culture beyond any ordinary person!


     Ciao! Before I start to talk about Italy or anything of the like, let me tell you a little bit about myself! So, as some of you already may know, I'm your typical preppy american, wearing chubbies, sperry top-siders, and everything in-between. I enjoy volunteering, swimming, and I'm on my school's football, lacrosse, and hurdling team! Although I enjoy those things, I could not survive without my friends and family! My passion in life, or at least as of now, is to travel the world and to experience new culture!

     In my young life, I lived in Texas, and before you ask, I don't ride tractors nor do I say "Howdy". Until my freshman year of high school, I had not moved. My parents and I moved to San Francisco, California, where I'd gradually end up changing schools four times. As of now, I am at my fourth high school, and Italy will be my fifth! Since then, I have started to get used to the whole moving scene, and would love to try it in a different country!

     Now that you know a tad bit more about me, I hope you'll pay attention to my study abroad in the future! Ciao! Arrivederci! Goodbye!