I have officially lived in Milan for two weeks now... it's crazy because it feels like so much longer... school drags on the same but weekends are fun :). This week in school... I went to school... I can't really describe what I did because it feels like nothing (probably because it is nothing, oh well haha). However, on Thursday there was a sort of AFS meeting/lecture thing in la Duomo, so I got to skip school! YES! When I got there I saw Emma, Iris, Mollie, and a bunch of the other kids that were staying in Milan that I hadn't seen since orientation so that was lots of fun. The lecture was all in italian and it was just a bunch of people (a lot of people weren't in AFS and I have no clue why they were there or where they were from, but then again I didn't even have a clue what the lecture was about either). Anyway, the lecture was actually just like school except for we got up and got snacks from a wicked confusing vending machine in the middle, haha. It was also hilarious because all the AFS kids had to stand up and introduce them selves (Ciao, Mi chiamo katie, sonno americana) and when the mircophone got the american kids and they said sonno americana, everybody started shouting and clapping. That was pretty cool.... until they got to the two kids from Brazil; then everyone went freaking crazy!! Haha. After that Emma and I went to the Duomo to go shopping, of course... I think we went in the same shops about 20 times, they just had different names (at least that's what it felt like after a while). Cool cool cool. On Friday, we had our first italian lesson! All the kids from Milan and close to came, so there's about 13-15 or so kids in the class. That day we just went over basic stuff like time, the alphabet, ect, and it was all explained in english. We have italian lessons three times a week until the middle of November, and then we have them two times a week until January. I really hope that these will be effective.. hahaha. After Italian, we all went out to get gelato (because the lessons are at the duomo). Yum. I really think that the whole ice cream everywhere you go could end up being a problem, but whatever. Not gonna complain. Saturday was school.. what fun.. I don't think I'll ever get used to waking up early but oh well. After school me and my family drove to an outlet mall that was about an hour away from Milan.. and I discovered that I just really don't like outlet malls. It's kind of like you were wishing that they had everything that the real stores had, but for cheaper; it's not. It is just a big place full of clothing that not a lot of people like, haha. I did get a cute pair of shoes, though. They are slightly less high than the other heels I bought and almost started crying after wearing for a half hour. :P Anyway... saturday night me and my mom and Enrico's family and an American teacher person (whoooo go america!) went out to dinner and after Enrico, Marco and I went to a party. Saturday nights are fun fun funnn :) However I was sooo tired when I woke up this morning! Today was AWESOME because I got to go see the Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci! I do not have any pictures unfortunatly because I am not skilled in the sneaky picture taking department, and my camera is SO loud!! So I got yelled at. The painting was really cool though, it was in a dark room that was pretty big, and it was painted on a whole wall. HUGE. I really liked that. After we saw the painting we all went to get gelato... YUM (yea I told you its EVERYWHERE). Then, Enrico's parents from America were here visiting for two weeks so an entire group of us went to the Castello again. I've been there three weekends in a row, haha. We went inside the castle this time, where we got to see bunches of artifacts and other old things, and Michaelangelo's final sculpture. He worked on this sculpture till about 4 days before he died, so it is unfinished. Very pretty though. After that I fell asleep while watching soccer... Thennnn the sunday night parties began! So usually there wouldn't be this much activity on a sunday, but my cousin Enrica decided to have her birthday tonight and so did my friend from school named Ale. I went to Enrica's first, which was fun and I got to see another AFS'er that is living near me.. and I felt kind of bad because I had to leave like 20 minutes after I got there... oops! I walked down the street to Ale's house and then we drove to this place called Old Fashion Cafe, it's a BIG happy hour (happy hour is where you pay 10 euros for a drink and get as much food as you want) place with lots of food and drinks and then dancing.. so almost everybody from our class came, which was super cool... and wow when they say casual nice in Italy it kind of means really nice. Dress up for EVERYTHING. This is gonna take some getting used to. So everybody got food from this big huge buffet where everyone was pushing and shoving, cool huh. We also had tickets so we all got delicious sugary drinks. After a while we started dancing... now that was funnnn. I really just kind of adore dancing, and Italy is a great place to be for that. Then it was cake time! It was sososo cool, the staff brought over the cake to our table with two bottles of champagne (yea, that is so the right way to celebrate a birthday). And we even did the shakey thing with the champagne and popped the cork which was AWESOME because never have I ever seen that done in real life, cool stuff :P Her cake was sooo good it was like halfway made of cream puffs which I happen to love, yea, and then the rest was yellow cake. So nice work who ever whipped that up, I agree with your cooking skillz. The rest of the night we danced danced danceeeed it was so fun until like 11:10 because I had to be home at 11:30 so then we left. On the way back we had to stop because we thought we had a flat tire... so I got home about 11:45 from a WICKED FUN Sunday night :P and now I have scuola again! YayyyY! :D
Ciao Ciao

Pictures from top to bottom -
1) My awesome class! 4G
2) The Church right next to where the Last Supper is held
3) Michaelangleo's last statue
4) Frederica, Christina and Me at Ale's birthday
5) Me and a Beautiful Birthday girl!!!
6) My lovely apartment building :)
7) Castello!

Oh yea... so Friday (the 18th) was my 17th birthday. The whole week before that was a mix of booooring scuola, making friends, and seeing il Duomo! So I'll start at the beginning :)

lunedi - first day at school! Not capitalizing the day is gonna be a little difficult... here there is no Lunedi its just lunedi (monday). Scuola was interesting... the first day. I did not understand anything, but I met the principal and the english teacher (who is super funny). The english teacher has a hilarious habit of saying "yes, that's right" to everything anyone says... so I would be stretching my arms during class (another habit that is not allowed here ?!?!) an she would catch me and say AH AH AH! While I am blushing, followed by a "Mi dispiace!" (I'm sorry) followed by, "Yes, that's right!" So... hahaha there are so many things that have culture shocked me here I can't even begin to explain. I appear to be taking Math, Science, English, Philosophy, Religion, Italian, Latin, Art, and Gym (rarely). I go to school at 8:15, usually by bicycle with my cousin Enrica. School the prima settimana (first week) got out at 12:30... but usually we get done at 1:15. There is a break from 10:15-10:30 where students can go to the cafe in the school or outside to smoke. Which apparently they do at school here. This was just a little surprising the first day, haha. My class has 16 kids in it, 3 boys and the rest are girls. They are all very nice! Everyone talks in English to me, or tries to... whic h is quite infuriating when you are trying to learn italian... haha but they are all really nice. Another difference I noticed between Alaska and Italy.. In the class everybody knows each other and is nice to each other.. there are no cliques from what I can see. After school I go home (because I lack the ability to make solid friends quickly) and hang out in my house. The next day I have a delicious breakfast of coffee and cookies... and a peach! The breakfast here really is quite lovely haha. When we were biking to school, Enrica saw that she had some bike grease on the leg of her pants (near the foot, where you don't really notice). Being as it that I bike a lot, I just said oh don't worry you're fine, that happens to me all the time... apparently in Italy that doesn't happen all the time because her reaction was a tad different. She kept saying "this is simply unacceptable.. I have to go home and change..." the only reason we got to school on time is because her brother agreed to bring pants to school for her so she could change. This was the biggest culture shock for me yet... it was just such a different reaction compared to an environment where kids wear sweatpants and pyjamas to school. I also have discovered that whoever made the statement "math is the same in every language" is a freaking liar. Math is super hard... I'm pretty sure we're studying parabolas but past that I am a little lost. Science is a fun subject, the teacher is really nice and tries to explain everything to me as best she can. Science is a mix of chemistry and biology... right now we're studying amino acids. It was pretty crazy to realize that the names of the elements on the periodic table are in a different language. After school I come home and eat lunch with my family... then either stay in (like I did the first couple days) or go out. On Wednesday I even went to mi amica Ale's house for an hour, followed by me biking home and NOT EVEN GETTING LOST! I was pretty excited about this, in case you couldn't tell. So school school school... then along comes FRIDAY! Normally it'd be a TGIF moment, but sadly, we have school on Saturday :'(. However, Friday I got to go to the Duomo (center of milan) with Emma!!! Which would explain the picture above. The Duomo was sooooo big! When we got off the subway I literally was like WOAH THIS THING IS FRICKEN HUGE!- Whilst many a tourist looked at me quite odd. We went shopping and walked around... saw the Louis Vuitton store, Prada store, Salvatore Ferragamo store... all the stores we couldn't go in... the duomo is so big and old that it kind of seems like a seperate city than Milan... a little city inside the city (like the Vatican). Then we got gelato. It was GOOD. There was one called Baccio that I got that means kiss in italian and it tastes like NUTELLA ICE CREAM. Kind of a genius creation. Strawberry is really good also. I had to go at 4, so me and her took the metro until I had to get off. The next day, Saturday, I had school. I disagree with this school on Saturday thing. However it was only 2 hours (first saturday school only) and then my dad Andrea and I went to get me a metro pass downtown. That took about an hour... and it turns out I have to wait 15 days to get it! Lame. After that my sorella and I went to go shoe shopping, and I got a really adorable pair of high heels! And they are high, about 3 inches. This turned out to possibly be the stupidest idea I have ever had. Saturday night Emma and I slept over at a family friends house. Their son had done an exchange in Wisconsin for a year and since it was my birthday we went to the discotecca. Just in case you were wondering, going dancing in 3 inch high heels for 4 hours isn't really that easy. Or fun. But dancing was amazinnggggly fun! It was so so so fun to be out and dancing all night. We went to an old villa near the center of town... it had been redesigned? i guess? As a club... it was awesome though. Also met a ton of people, don't really remember any names, but i've never been good with those :P After this, school dances are going to seem a little lame :/ haha. Anywayyy after that we went back to the house at about 3:30 and fell asleep, Emma went back to Buccinesco while I slept in till 1:30, nice. Sunday we went to the park, which is the closest to nature that you can get here in Milan, so that wfas fun. Now I'm tired, even after drinking tons of coffee. I drink so much coffee that my mom here, Ale, thinks I will have a heart attack (ha ha ha... too much coffee, what a joke). However they don't use milk here, just sugar... different
Anywayy I am tired and have been writing FOREVER so ciao!!
Katie xoxo
Finally... I've arrived in Italia (after about a week straight of traveling)! First was Bumbershoot in Seattle.. an EXCELLENT music festival that was so so so much fun... seeing the Black Eye'd Peas live was awesome! But of course, seeing anyone live would be awesome... those were the first concerts i've ever been to haha. So during that I think I got negative sleep, combined with a nasty cold was a very sick girl (me) ha. I lost my voice the second day... mannn did I sound unattractivo! That was for three days.... and I totally recommend going to everyone because I will most DEFINETLY be returning next year :) After Bumbershoot, my friend Abby (who is also going to Italia, I think i've mentioned that) flew to New York... got in, about three hours later (10 pm) we were showered and ready to see the town in all of its city never sleeps glory! Time's Square was a high point in this adventure. We stayed up till the lovely hour of about 8 am, then slept in till 3, when we remembered we had orientation in an hour. We arrived an hour late, which I consider excellent timing haha. Orientation in New york was pretty fun, although a bit boring, it was great to meet all the people that I had blindly added on facebook in real life! We did orientation stuff... which was kind of just a whole lot of being talked to for a while. Met some super cool people at it tho, and I now miss them all because I am alone in Milano! :P We then flew to Zurich (let's just say it was a pretty okay flight, except for being sick and lack of sleep). The airplane crew were sooo funny! We were the loudest section... and they came by a lot and asked "what are you doing??" haha. After Zurich we flew to Roma... I was SOOO excited to finally have arrived! The first thing I did was get pizza with my friend Emily, we were pretty pleased about this... plus the slice was HUGE. Mmmm italiano pizza = win. So then we took a bus to the orientation... which we were informed would be two days long. Turns out we arrived a day later than everyone else who was already there and had already met each other. Greeaaat. After meeting everyone we had a long long LONNNG night in the hostel... got no sleep :/ but it was fun :P The volunteers were sooo funny! They were very young and amusing... when they showed us what the italian host parents would be like when first meeting us (very huggy and kissy) it was sooo funny. The day after I left with the other Milanese at 10:30... we took a 4 hour train ride to Milano... where we walked into a room FULL OF SCREAMING HOST PARENTS AND SIBLINGS. Being nervous as it was.. this was crazyyyy. I saw my host parents (very exciting) and then we had to introduce ourselves in front of everybody 1 at a time... nice. After that we grabbed my bags and drove to what is now mi casa! We had a delicious dinner.. eggplant lasagna something? I don't know but it was effin' gooood. Gosh i get tired while typing this... arggg okay so my host family is veryyy nice :) the language barrier is super difficult because they are being really understanding and speaking a lot of english but it is STILL difficult! Today (sunday) I went to church this morning... for the second time EVER! Ha. It was okay... couldn't understand anything but I met Francesca's amici (my sister's friends) after.. and two of them go to mi scuola (school). This is bene (good) because then I will at least know someone... i also met a cousin y aunt. The rest of the day was great... bike riding to il parco (the park) and meeting more famiglia amichi (family friends). I also met the son of a family friend that had gone on an exchange to Wisconsin for a year... that was cool because he understood the process and such and it was super good to talk to him. Now I get ready for dinner... It is a tradition for mi famiglia to go out for pizza the night before school starts (which is domani (tomorrow)... ahhh)! Wish me luck... till next time :)
Ciao ciao y buono notte!
xoxo, Katie

Today, I was approached by a homeless man who asked if I had any change. I only had two dimes, but I gave it to him anyway. As I watched him walk away, he put the dimes in an expired parking meter of a strangers car. MMT - makesmethink.com