I arrived in Italy on Saturday, January 18th. My host sister, Maria, met me at the airport. From there I went for a brief tour around Rome with Maria and her aunt before we caught the bus back to Macerata. The bus took about five hours with all the stops and we finally made it back to Macerata around 7:00 p.m. I had been travelling for close to 24 hours and I was very tired.
We met Maria's mom and sister at the apartment I would be staying at in the heart of Montecassiano (a small village outside Macerata). While I am being hosted by this family, I will be living separately from them in an apartment they own. Their house is a 10-minute walk from the apartment while their grandparents live just around the corner.
The first few days have very much been about settling in and getting myself organized. The family has been wonderful, making sure I have everything I need to feel at home. Nonna Ada (Grandma Ada) even got me a bottle of Sprite, which was really nice of her.
So far I have spent a lot of time with the family, getting to know them and getting to know the village I am living in. It is really nice that I am living in the village center because I am able to walk around and explore on my own. On Wednesdays they close the streets within the city walls and have a market so I am excited to see that!
Macerata is a 20-minute drive from Montecassiano. This is where I will be teaching at the Liceo Scientifico, one of the local high schools. This school is mostly for students who are university-bound after graduation. Maria, for example, will be attending university in Milan next year.
Today I finished my second day at the school. Initially, I was really worried because I wasn't given a schedule and the teachers couldn't really tell me what they wanted me to do. Today I realized Italians are just a lot more relaxed than Americans and I would have to learn to go with the flow.
I spent the last two days visiting different classes of various levels. The teachers encouraged me to introduce myself to the classes and give a brief presentation about myself, my family and where I am from.
The students asked a lot of questions. They seem genuinely interested in American life, but also in just listening to me talk (I had to remind myself to speak slowly enough that they would understand). Students asked questions about my family, my high school and my university. They also asked about American politics, how to get a job in the United States and what New York City was really like.
Overall, the first few days have been a little overwhelming because of the language barrier and being so far from home, but as the days go on, things are definitely getting easier. I couldn't ask for a better host family. They are really great and we have been staying up too late at night talking about the similarities and differences between Italy and the United States. We found that the moms and daughters watch many of the same TV shows as me! We watched "Hawaii Five-O" the other night in Italian. They put the English subtitles on just to help me out!