A Travellerspoint blog

July 10 2010

sunny 35 °C

July 10th 2010
I was really excited to get home from sailing and sleep in a real bed and not have to wake up and do a million things in the morning, I really wanted to sleep in as much as I could because it was a Saturday, and it was my day off to relax. But of course that didn't happen, because apparently I don't get days off. My room is just the top floor of the house and there is no door because the stairs go right up. It really bothers me that I can't shut and lock a door to a room that is supposed to be my space, but this is kind of minor details. This bothers me for a few reasons. The house is very echoey because it's stone wall and floors, so I can hear everything that is said in the whole house, and whenever a light goes on on any of the downstairs floors it shines right upstairs. At about 930 AM I was already awakened by all of the noise downstairs but I was still laying in bed. Then I heard Silvia telling Irene to come wake me up. I'm very cranky whenever I first wake up and obviously this made me mad because it's Saturday and I'm off work. When Irene came up and said wake up I decided to say "No, I'm going to sleep for a bit longer". Her not knowing english doesn't make it easy for me to do things like this, but eventually she went downstairs and I went back to sleep. Then about 45 minutes later I woke up again and was laying in bed preparing myself to get up, and Silvia told Irene to come wake me up again, I was so annoyed but this time because I was already planning on getting up I jumped out of bed and turned the lights on quickly so that Silvia would know I was already awake. I went on the computer to see if anyone from home was on facebook (probably drunk because it was 2am in Calgary, first weekend of Stampede) and did a couple other things but I was still in my room when Silvia yelled up the stairs "Kendahl, are you ready?" I thought quickly about if we were supposed to go anywhere or do anything but we weren't supposed to so I said "Ready for What?" and she said "To help me". I was mad because it's my time off, but I said "Yeah, I guess so". We did all of Irene's packing for the alps and Fabrizio wasn't at home so Irene was sitting in the room with us and was far from being entertained so Silvia told me to blow up this blow up pool and play with her in the backyard. One of Irene's friends came over and played with her in the pool so I brought my laptop down because I was trying to reply to a bunch of messages, email my mum, write my blog about the last week. Silvia told me that instead I should go upstairs and pack for the alps (which I had pretty much already done before we even went sailing) and I figured I could just go up and get all my internet things done up there instead, and so I went up and she unplugged the internet box.
About noon she got a phone call from her friend who had a baby on July 4th inviting us over for dinner, I was excited to go to another house for dinner because I enjoy meeting other families and was REALLY excited to see the baby. Then she told me the plan was for her to take me to their house a few hours before dinner so I could play with Irene and the families other child, a 3 year old boy. During that time she was going to 'go home and prepare everything else for the alps'. I was mad she didn't even give me the option of not going as consideration to my time off, but even if she had what was I supposed to say, obviously I couldn't say no thanks because that wouldn't go over well. Most of the time before we went to the other house was spent me helping her prepare everything so in the end I don't know what else there was she was preparing, but whatever. A long while before I knew we had to leave I went and took a shower and spent a fair amount of time getting ready just because I was so annoyed by everything and at that point didn't really feel like helping out more.
I know that it probably seems to them like I'm not doing much when I'm upstairs in my room or while I'm on my computer but I only spend about an hour, maybe two if I'm lucky, a day on the computer and in that time I accomplish a lot. It's my way of keeping in touch with Calgary, and without being able to keep in contact so easily I would be much more homesick. They should be happy that this keeps me happy because without it I probably would be very distracted thinking about what is going on at home. I also really need my own space sometimes, especially when living with people. I learned this through living with friends for a while because ultimately all the time we lived together we felt we were obligated to hang out and this resulted in none of us being friends anymore. It's not the obligation that ruined our friendship it was that we spent far too much time together and things fell apart quickly. I don't want spending too much time together and quickly becoming annoyed of each other to ruin this because I fully intend on staying with this family for the next year. Irene is, for the most part, still attached to me, she has her moods like all kids do where she decides that she doesn't like me very much but in the end she is always interested in what I am doing and doesn't leave me alone. Which didn't really bother me until we went sailing because she just does anything to get my attention and wouldn't let me read my book and things and I get so annoyed of her sometimes. So far it's been a tolerable annoyance, she is like having a little annoying sister but if she continues to do this I'm going to have to figure something out about having a bit more limits.
But anyways, the afternoon and dinner was great, we had pizza followed by Gelato. The baby is adorable and her name is Maddalena which I absolutely love. The family who's house we went to was very, very nice and they both spoke english except for the grandma of the baby was there and she couldn't speak english, but her and I had a full blown conversation in Italian about weather in Canada and Watermelon - which was very exciting for me!
After dinner we went home and I went straight to bed because I knew we had to be up early to get leave for the alps!!

Posted by kendahlc 03:19 Archived in Italy Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

sailing, part 2

my complaints..

sunny 40 °C

I would first like to explain one thing. I am not only keeping this blog for my family and friends but for myself too. I want to get this printed one day when my trip is over and maybe scrap book it, or just have it to keep as a memory. So that said I want to keep this as honest as possible and not only write about things I see or do, but how I am emotionally coping with living with another family and being away from all my family and friends for an extended amount of time. Before I started writing this I decided to keep it hush-hush from my Italian family so that I can keep the honesty, I really hope that if they ever read this they're not offended by the things that bother me that they understand that even though I am posting them in a public forum they are still my feelings are deserve to be respected. I need to write about the bad things also for the simple fact of getting it off my chest and not bottling it all up inside. I highly suggest that if you don't like to hear complaints that you don't read this entry.
Another reason I had a hard time enjoying myself sailing was because I was bossed around constantly by the mother of the family and told to do a million things at once and it got very frustrating. First thing that annoyed me was that I am supposed to have weekends off, but on Saturday and Sunday we were sailing so I needed to help do all the sailing things (which I completely understood), and I needed to help at meal times (because I'm eating too), but my other regular duties stayed the same. Nothing that they ask of me is really that hard, they're not asking me to wipe their asses or clean the toilets for them but sometimes the things are so unnecessary it gets frustrating. It's obviously not the complication behind these tasks that bothers me it's the principle behind the fact we have an au pair contract and the weekends are my time off. The first couple days we sailed were the time when I was the most sea sick, and it was also the weekend. Something that helps ease sea sickness is to keep your eyes on things that aren't inside the boat, like the shoreline for example, or doing something that keeps your mind distracted from the movement, reading for example. It was Silvia that told me these two things. But as quickly as I could sit down to read my book, or to look outside the boat and take pictures I would be asked to do one of these dumb unimportant things that;
1) She was fully able to do herself and she was never busy enough to need me to do these things for her.
2) They were the most unneeded things ever.
I was frustrated with this initially because it was the weekend, but this kept up the whole trip to the point where I felt like I was doing absolutely everything.
Every time my name would be yelled from across the boat and one of these mundane tasks was dictated to me I would start singing the Cinderella song to myself in my head, but instead of the lyrics being "Cinderella, Cinderella, night and day it's 'Cinderella wash the dishes do the mopping..' " It was "Kenderella...".
It was Sunday night when we went to the jazz festival and in the end it was only me and Fabrizio walking back to the boat and when we got there Silvia was sitting up still outside on the back of the boat. Us three sat and talked for a bit and then the conversation ended up talking about sailing. Silvia said that I wasn't doing enough around the boat and that this was not the way to act on a sailing boat. Her complaints were unreasonable considering the fact that she was dictating so much to me that I was essentially doing all the non-sailing related tasks, and a lot of the time I was on the verge of throwing up so if I had a second to sit down and try and get my stomach back where it should be I would take it. I was also exhausted from the heat and I had a huge sun burn so it wasn't fun to sit outside in the heat all day everyday. I went out of my way to act as interested in all the things that come with sailing, mainly for the sake of staying on good ground with them, but straight up it's so hard to enjoy something that makes you sick and you don't really have an interest in to begin with.
I am a firm believer that anything you have to say to someone can be put politely but after Silvia said those things to me I was obviously mad and so I couldn't find a polite way to tell her how annoyed I was by everything - so the only thing I could possibly say to her at that time was "okay". Then I went and got ready for bed, where I had my second big break down since being in Italy (first one was my first day of school) and cried myself to sleep. I don't think anyone heard me crying because no one said anything to me about it the next day and everything carried on as per usual.
I've gotten quite accustomed to putting myself second here because my job for this family really requires that, so another day while we were in Elba we were getting ready to go out in the morning and I got Irene prepared, packed her bags, made sure she brushed her teeth, got her dressed, etc, etc and I spent 5 minutes getting myself ready. I wore no makeup, threw my hair up - didn't even put baby powder in it to make it look not look greasy, threw on a bad outfit. I'm a 20 year old girl, I want to go out and look good but here I really just don't have a lot of time to do that for myself, and especially not while we were sailing. While at the house in Pisa I make sure I'm the first one up and the first in the shower so I have enough time to get ready even though I love sleeping and would rather spend that time sleeping, it sucks but I deal with it. Back in Calgary I'm slightly notorious for keeping people waiting while I get ready, but here I have yet to do that because I don't want that to cause problems. So this particular day when we were leaving the boat I didn't feel like I had done anything wrong, but Silvia did. She told me not to spend so long looking at myself in the mirror. Once again all I could conjure up to say was "okay" and I really couldn't defend myself even though I hadn't done anything wrong.
These types of things have become increasingly more frustrating, and they have been so confusing at times because I haven't really done a lot wrong, I do everything that I am asked to do and really try to make sure everyone is happy. I hate that I haven't stuck up for myself because I don't want to end up being walked all over. I will have to think of a way to discuss everything with Silvia and make sure that my feelings get heard. I really hope it doesn't sound like I'm miserable here, because I'm not at all - I love it here. Even though I do have these things that I find annoying I don't think I could have made a better choice of families to live with, living with people your not used to can be a frustrating thing, and nothing ever goes perfectly. All in all this trip has so far been an amazing experience and I don't regret coming here at all. Everyday is different and you really just have to take things as they come when your an au pair. There has been a million positive things and I have spent so much of my time here smiling but I'm sure everyone understands when I say that even though a million positive things happen if there are one or two bad things that can easily end up being all you can focus on for a while.

Posted by kendahlc 03:18 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

SAILING!!

July 2 - 9th

sunny 40 °C

our sailing trip.
I have a bit of a love hate relationship with sailing. I enjoy being in a boat on the sea but I absolutely hate the sea sickness as well as all the complicated work that comes with sailing. To be able to sail you have to know what types of sails go up at what times, countless number of knots to tie, the names of the knots, names of ropes, what ropes are attached to which sail, what order the sails go up in, how to fold a sail, how to balance the boat etc, there's just so much! I think it is safe to say that unless I have a crew running the sail boat for me I will stick to boats with real engines that one person can operate on their own. I do, however, completely understand why there are a lot of people who enjoy sailing, it can be very relaxing provided everything is working in your favor! As long as the sails are positioned properly and the wind is going in the right direction you can shut off the engine and just sail through the sea. But all that said I'm pretty sure that sailing, and everything that comes with it wont be another week long trip I decide to take!!
From that paragraph it probably sounds like I had a miserable week but thats not completely true! While I did have a couple moments of wanting to just leave back to Calgary (mostly due to being bossed around by the mum of the family) all the good things strongly outweigh the bad parts of the trip. I love the island that we went to, I love being on the sea, I love anchoring the boat in bays during the day and going snorkeling in the clear blue water, and I absolutely love the fact that I did a couple things last week I wouldn't have ever done had I not gone on this trip! I usually give up and try and take the easy way out for things that I don't really care about or don't want to do but last week I kept forcing myself to enjoy the things that we were doing, mainly for the sake of staying on good terms with the family, but in the end I discovered that I actually liked a couple of the things that I wouldn't have expected to enjoy.
On the second night we docked in a harbor that is in a town made for tourists - very expensive, and very busy! We got some gelato and walked around downtown for a bit and eventually it was just Fabrizio, Roberto (a family friend who came sailing for part of the week) and I and we went to a jazz festival. I didn't want to leave and go back to the boat because I wanted to spend as much time away from it as possible so I went and watched with them and I surprisingly actually enjoyed it. One band in particular did covers of older songs by deep purple, led zeppelin and nirvana. They played the nirvana song first and because I actually really love nirvana I recognized the song immediately so after that I started paying attention to the music more and I actually like it. Not enough for my music preference to change but enough to respect it and not just think it's horrible!! I also really liked that the people who were in these bands were sooooooo obviously passionate about their music it was cute and I like seeing that type of thing! Another thing I didn't expect to enjoy was an excursion through a coal mine. Before the mine I had an idea in my head that it couldn't be that interesting because it's just dark tunnels in a mountain and it would be dusty and gross but I was partially wrong. It was dusty, a little bit gross but it was so interesting. The way that the miners lived and the conditions that they dealt with are amazing. While for the most part it was just tunnels there was also huge areas where they would continuously take dynamite and blow out portions of the inside of the mountain. There was one part where there is a lookout to one of these hollowed areas and it was so big you couldn't see across it, we were standing 14m above sea level and the bottom of the area was -56m below sea level. The guide threw a rock into the hollow area and it took 18 seconds for it to hit the bottom, it's absolutely amazing what they were able to accomplish. I am reading a book about economics and so I also liked hearing about how the island relied on the mines as an export. About 75% of the people on the islands jobs had to do with the mines, generations of men were miners so when the government decided to shut down the mines it was absolutely devastating. The government did have good intentions though, it wanted to shifts Elba's direction to one of tourism which is much more profitable and will be a longer running source of income for the island. Another MAJOR benefit of going into the mine was the 15˚ temperature which was much appreciated for a couple of hours!
One night we docked in a town called Porta Ferraio which is the most expensive harbor on the island (60 euro a night), and is geared towards the wealthy tourists who own incredibly large yachts and most of these incredible yachts have a crew of people operating them (lucky!). When we first pulled into the harbor and docked there weren't an irregular amount of nice boats but we were right beside the most gorgeous brand new sail boat I have ever seen, it was easily worth millions and the boat that we are on was built in like 1940 (I'm exaggerating a bit it's from 1972) and is worth maybe like 30 thousand dollars so we looked a little out of place. After we finished folding sails and putting the boat in order went to the beach and came back a couple hours later. About 15 of these amazing HUGE yachts were now docked in the harbor and it made us look like the beverly hillbillies. Our shower for the week was those outdoor ones you can buy at Canadian tire that are basically just a black plastic bag that holds water and a tube where it comes out at the end and you fill it up then leave it to warm up in the sun. We hang these on some of the ropes at the front of the boat and shower in a bathing suit outside. So when I showered in this particular harbor with all these expensive yachts that probably have real showers inside I felt a little weird, and then of course two people stand on the balcony of their yacht and stare at me, which was slightly embarrassing.
Everyday we went swimming in different bays around the island. We have snorkel sets so we saw a lot of fish, had some jelly fish encounters. Silvia got stung the worst, it looked like she was in a lot of pain, but they got some cream from the pharmacy later that day and she said that was like a miracle, she couldn't even feel it after that, but the swelling and redness stayed for a few days. Some of the jelly fish's filaments can be metres long and they are clear so you can be stung without even seeing a jelly fish. We also got into the habit of feeding the fish our stale bread whenever we were stopped in a bay and if there was a jelly fish around and you threw bread right over the jelly fish the other fish wouldn't even go close to the bread because they would probably die from the sting.
Every night after dinner we would go into the town we were docked in and eat some gelato. I know that Europeans love their football but every night there was a world cup game on all the Gelateria's would move a TV outside where their tables were and needless to say the busiest gelateria's those nights were the ones with the biggest TV's. I really have to come to actually like soccer so I was kind of excited for the world cup this year, and even more excited about the fact that I was going to be in Europe for it this year. I was actually shocked by just how much people are affected by the results of the games. In the game between Germany and Spain to see who would advance to the final, grown men were crying at the result (I'm assuming because they're German) it was shocking.
On the way back from the harbor that we docked the sail boat at and we had a kind of long drive back to Pisa and it was late in the evening but Irene was so hyper. Her and I sat in the back and made faces at each other for pretty much the whole time and just laughed a lot. At about 11pm I got tired so I made her listen to music with me on my ipod and she and I both fell asleep.
When we got home I went on the computer even though it was late ended up going on skype with my good friend Chelsea for a little bit and I was so happy! It was so good to talk to her, it made my the way my week ended SOO much better, and I even got to talk to her mum (who is like my second mum) and she cried when she saw me! I can't even imagine how she is when she skypes her kids because neither of them live in Calgary most of the time anymore, one lives in Iowa for school, and the other plays soccer in Germany.
While for the most part I really enjoyed our trip to Elba, I'm going to have to turn the other reason I didn't enjoy myself into another entry because it's a whole other issue onto itself.

Posted by kendahlc 03:17 Archived in Italy Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

bonviaggio!

thats Italian for "have a good trip!"

semi-overcast 26 °C

All day it was me and Irene hanging out and I got to sleep in until 930 when she woke up!! IT WAS SOO NICE TO SLEEP IN A BIT!
Irene is obsessed with princesses and fairy tales so because of that she loves ANYTHING pink or in any way feminine, it is a fight to get her to wear pants and not a dress or skirt which creates problems when we go hiking or sailing. Even at the beach a week ago she didn't want to take off her dress to put her bathing suit on which ended up being a total melt down. So today when I was getting ready she was in the bathroom with me and wanted me to put my make up on her, so I "did''. I obviously faked this a little bit because a 4 year old doesn't need to wear make up and she went and stared in the mirror for literally about 20 minutes. After that I was putting my hair extensions in and she saw and wanted them in her hair (probably because most princesses have long hair, and long hair is a very feminine thing) but I didn't want to put my new ones in her hair so I went and grabbed my old ones and put them in her hair. So currently she is wearing dark brown hair extensions over top of her blonde hair. I'll go take a picture and post it so everyone can see how funny it looks! When Silvia got home she was a little bit shocked and had a little bit of a disgusted look on her face (as most people do because fake hair is a little bit gross) but I showed her that they aren't permanent and told her it's human hair and she laughed a little bit. Irene keeps looking into the mirror and playing with her hair and she went into my drawer in the bathroom where I keep my things and grabbed 2 of my head bands that are the same but are different colors and gave me the one that matches my outfit and put the other one in her hair! She is such a mini me!! But I can't wait until tonight when we have to fight with her a bit to get her to take the extensions out!
Were leaving tonight to go sailing for a week to the Island of Elba and I'm kind of sad were not leaving tomorrow morning because I kind of wanted to go to this party I got invited to tonight, but it's not a big deal! I wont be able to update this blog for a week or so because I'm not bringing my computer with me, but I'm sure that I will come back and have to write a very long entry about all the things we did in the last week! I just called my mom about 15 minutes ago and she said that she has heard a lot of positive feedback about the blog and I'm so happy to hear that! Hearing that keeps me motivated to spend an hour every night writing about my day when most of the time I would rather just spend that hour sleeping haha!! There is also a way to subscribe to the blog so you are notified through your email every time I write a new entry!
Anyways, I hope everyone has a fantastic week!
Ciao!

Posted by kendahlc 07:03 Comments (0)

i hate thinking up titles for these things.

it honestly takes me so long to think of something.

sunny 35 °C

Today was the last day of school!!! I was kind of happy because it means I don't have to wake up at 630 every day, but it was also very sad because I really liked my teacher!!! At the end of the class we talked about how far I feel I have come in the class and how much Italian I have learned and thinking back to two weeks ago I knew nothing but a few words, I had no idea how to put a sentence together and even though I'm FAR from fluent I have really mastered basic communication and feel like I can survive in Italy. I probably won't really be comfortable having conversations in Italian for a while, but I can say all the essential things for now and the rest will come with time and practice!
It's common knowledge that McDonald's restaurants are pretty much on every corner of the earth but I hadn't seen one in Pisa so today after school I met up with a friend for lunch and we went to the only one in Pisa which is in the train station. I don't really eat mcdonalds at home but I got 6 piece chicken mcnigs like I usually do with a sprite and honey mustard sauce, just to see if everything tasted the same and it pretty much did. The chicken was actually really good, the sprite tasted weird though, it was like it was mixed with a lot of sugar, I didn't have fries but they looked like the regular over salted and undercooked.
After lunch I took the overly packed and unbelievably hot bus to the sea side and met up with Irene, Nonna (Nonna is Italian for Grandma), Silvia's sister, and Davide. We spent the rest of the day at the beach and I got a bit of a sun burn because it was so hot outside and then Silvia came and picked us up and we started on our way home!! On the way back to Pisa there is an Organic farm that sells fresh milk and today we stopped to get milk and I couldn't believe how actually cool it was. You go into this tiny little shack that is attached to a barn and there is a vending machine that has empty plastic bottles and you can buy them for like .20 cents (euro) then there is another machine that dispenses the milk. You put 1 euro into the coin slot and 1 euro = 1L of fresh milk and you fill your own containers. The small human door to the barn was open a bit so I took Irene inside and showed her the cows. There was only 3 big cows inside but there was about 20 calfs and she was so excited to see the babies, it was so cute! Then the owner of the barn came and showed us how they hook the cows up to the machines and the tubes where the milk goes. The milk doesn't touch air until it is dispensed into the containers and there is nothing added, so it is as pure as it comes. It's so neat and such a good concept, there was continually people going in to fill their bottles and I usually don't like milk but I tasted it and it actually wasn't bad.
We came home and had dinner and then Irene and I played a bit of soccer and I just kind of hung out and now I am not doing anything too productive, but I should be packing to go sailing for the week but facebook and blogging are much more entertaining!!! We are going to the isle of Elba, it's one of Italy's largest islands and it's one of the places that Napoleon was exiled to back in the day. I'm really excited because my teacher said that it's one of the most beautiful places she has ever seen.
I love Italy way too much, I don't think I'll be moving back to Canada!! (sorry Mom!!) :). Happy Birthday though Canada! I miss you!!
I also miss all my friends and family!! I love you all and hope everyones having a fantastic Canada day!
CIao!

Posted by kendahlc 13:11 Archived in Italy Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

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