Monday, September 29, 2014

What Next . . . A New Dream?

All AFSers get to go through this at one point or another. COLLEGE APPLICATIONS and the scholarship sign-ups!.  My quick tip is to do this when you abroad! I waited, as usual, and now it is crunch time. I am glad I went to Italy for a year because now I stand out in the crowd of people applying. It may be the best part!

Basically this is what I have been doing since I returned from Italy, what three months ago? Where does the time fly!?! I swear I was just sitting in Italian class at my high school in Lamezia. This brings me to my next statement...I hope everyone gets the best out of this next school year! Especially all the Seniors that are graduating this year with me! We have totally worked our butts off to be able to be on TOP!!

If you have a bit of free-time please click this link. I need help with a scholarship deadline. I need people to vote for me :) Really easy, all you do is hit the little <3 heart to like my post! Thank you!!!!!

| § | XOXO Brystal | § |

Then also this link :) He is my friend an I REALLY want him to go to college. I told him he could get all the votes because he really is smart!!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

NYC - The City of Lights (The End)

        What word makes all exchange students cry? It only happens once, but it is the worst once in a lifetime. WHY you ask? Well because as an exchange student you get to build a NEW LIFE for yourself and you have to give it away at the end. Can you imagine that?

        No, so I will paint a picture for you.... OK first imagine your life now. What do you do each day, every day. The same old stuff. You get up in the same bed, go to the same Career/School, and then you basically go home. Now normally you see the same people each day, your friends you hang out with. They already know you. All people around you have an idea of who you are. No changing without being a "fake," or really lucky.

        Now think if you could start anew, in a new place, with all new people. When everyone around you doesn't care what your old life was like. They just want to know who you are now. You can change and become who you want too.

        Then you get used to that person you became. That is the new you! So whats the problem.... Oh yes, you forgot that you have to go back. Eventually, that was my favorite word, because I truly never thought the end would come. I was such an idiot, BUT it did come. Now I know I have to put myself in my old life when I changed so much abroad. I mean I left the USA always wearing dresses, and I didn't even touch them in Italy. I am personally scared to death because I know there are lots of thick-headed Americans I know that will judge me on the fact that I changed. So I just have to not care. I am really good at that too!

        Now moving on, the word that we all dread is "RETURN." I have just experienced it about 2 week ago. When I was taking my last plane ride with Intercultural, when I saw the USA (NY skyline) from a different point-of-view. It was different because I knew that we had both changed. New buildings go up each day, the America I knew was gone. I had changed because the Brystal I left there was naive.  BTW it doesn't feel like I am back yet.... I am still speaking to much Italian inside my house for me to feel 100% me again. I think my transition has gone easier then other peoples, because I have my Italian Host Sisters with me. Grazie Mille Emi e Mary, Vi Amo!!! <3 They make it all bearable, because I have not felt the heart-sinking feeling that Italy has left me. Or really it is I who left Italy, unwillingly may I add.

        Of course I couldn't stay forever in Italy, I just had to enjoy the 10 months I was given. Now since returning to my beloved home country where I was reunited with my friend the hamburger and hot-dog, <3 Oh what love, I have been very content! I got to do many first(s) that I never did before leaving. Like I visited NYC with my girls, while enjoying the fact that my dad always kept his chin on the ground because, "I suddenly speak a foreign language now." *Thanks Dad, I really did not notice I was speaking Italian all year, I thought it was some kind of English dialect or something* Well anyway, we saw the City of Lights, and it was such a change for me! I was not prepared for how tall the buildings were, the ones in Italy were short....and not made of glass! A little side note: We had NYC's pizza and the girls were fascinated by how different it was from the Italian pizza. It is quite different, I guess you have to try it to know! - I think they liked it though! Bonus for the USA, because they thought all the food wood taste really bad! So far they have enjoyed it all! Except Mary doesn't appreciate the Skittles... OMG! She can't taste the rainbow!

        We all took a short trip to New Jersey, the state next to Pennsylvania. We went to Sandy Hook to see the lighthouse (Climbed to the top) and mainly to go swimming. The ocean is extremely different  compared to the Mediterranean Sea. (I only went swimming near the beaches one time before leaving the US, I am a pool person.) It was a nice little vacation before heading back to my house in PA, it helped create a buffer between my year abroad and the rest of my life in the USA. Which is a seriously long time.

        After doing 2 states in 2 days, we headed to PA. My home turf, the land of them country folk, the farmer tans and all..... That's where we have stayed so far, just chilling and enjoying the little things in life. EXCEPT, Emi and Mary are full blown Americans now, seriously Mary had an M&Ms dream, and Emi likes the food....Or can I say in love with the food!

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

        Now for me, I know I have my life ahead of me. Thanks to AFS Intercultural I have figured out what I want to do. First I have to enroll myself back into Ship, my high school in the US. Then I have to graduate. Easy enough. Now after high school I am hoping to get accepted into The Air force Academy (Impossible to do may I add, but I like a challenge!) OR if I can not join that, I will enlist in the Air force. I am hoping to gain a backbone for when my real dream comes true. Working for the CIA as I want to help the relations abroad and put my second language to use. Of course I do have to go to college in between these two so I have even more experience. I do know what I want to learn also, so in the future you will see me studying up to be a police woman....... It is crazy how one small year abroad helped me find who I really am, one small year to help plan the rest of my life. Thank you AFS <3


~ XOXO Brystal ~

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Almost Over !! :(

What is probably the worst and best week in June? Well unless you went abroad, I am sure you don't know. June is normally the month exchange student's start to really notice that they have to leave! June is the month you wanted at the beginning of your experience, but towards the end, you start to wish on stars that it would go slower. 

June. Yes, I noticed that June is over, and I am asking where did it go?? Now, I feel warm tingles as I think about my home in the United States. As I will be there in a few days....BUT, I feel an even stronger dread, that seems to get worse every single day to tell you the truth. If I could feel the color black, it would be this feeling. It is similar to your heart breaking every minute, and then repairing itself out of hope. Why? Well because I know I have 4 days left in Italy, including today. I know that I will leave and never be able to come back for a year again, unless I move here. 

So why does June/July bring these feelings? Why do all exchange student's start to feel these sensations then? In my opinion it is because of the "End-of-the-year orientation." When Intercultura/AFS told us that we basically have to leave, or else. (I am pretty sure some people are attempting to just hide themselves and 'forget' to go on the plane.) They also tell you about the reverse culture shock you might feel when you return. I hear it is worse the the culture shock at the beginning! Kind of nervous! It basically means that you grew a custom to your host country's culture and you get shocked to see you own. 

Even more sad, they make you talk about your experience as if it already ended. Yes. I know, because I went to mine about a week ago. 

It was in Salerno! (The SAME PLACE I went to in October for the first orientation) This time I had so much fun, because I knew more people, I have more friends, and more importantly, I speak Italian now! ;-) 

So, the entire time was basically us speaking about the good and bad times of our experience. We did many activities. Some, including a game where we stood in a circle, and kissed our hands how we wanted. THEN, how ever we kissed our hand, we had to do the same to the person next to us. Yes, I kissed a girl.  I think it was to demonstrate how we all changed culturally, we are all more open to do/try new things.

Or we did time lines that had the line representing how Good/Bad that month was. At one point we sat all in a room, and someone read a paper and we all had time to experience what we did through-out our year, again. (Like with your memory) I totally shed a tear. They were talking about family, and I thought first of my host family then my american family. It showed me how much I grew to really care about them, people who were strangers to me a few months ago. (4 months ago to be exact) 

So I hope you get the point, we talked a lot and it opened my eyes! I have to leave ITALY! Why.... Perché.... ??? I have asked this enough times already, I constantly am finding things I love about Italy more then America.... I feel like I am the only American that doesn't want to return, I fell in love with the Italian culture. Now I am being dragged towards an airport, in handcuffs, forced on a plane home. Well that's how I feel. The only thing that makes me feel like I have to go back is that fact that my host sisters are going with me. Plus I haven't seen my family in a year, but to tell you the truth, I dont think they would notice if I stayed another 4-60 months. We have a special bond, strong! I know I will see them eventually <3 (Hi mom if your reading this, know it's you!) 

Anyway, at Salerno I also got a lot of parties in! The South American people really know how to make it fun! At this 'Camp' they were basically the cool people. I think the four Americans (including myself) were all wanting to be any other nation besides American. Yea, one lesson I learned abroad is that when it comes to the states, everyone has an opinion about them. Good or bad. The states are unlike any other country because we get talked about a lot! Just think about all the other country's, they are never in the news as much as the USA..... They just never have as much trouble as we do. Totally not fair. 

My point is that I wished to be Brazilian or something else. BUT I am not, I am American and I am very proud of that! No matter what, choose and love your country!! Tomorrow is 4th of July, I get to celebrate my independence with 1 other american. We are going all out because we have a higher sense of patriotism now! (+ we are alone) We are thinking about making a thousand cupcakes... Interculteral taught me that this year, I must stay by my country, because I represent them. When I return to America in 3-4 days, I will also represent Italy. I will be forever in between these two amazing countries. 

Italy + America = New Me!!!! <3 XOXO

| § | XOXO Brystal | § | 

Dying in the Sun!

With just a few days left (3), and July behind me, I think it's time to say what my life's been like! 

Italy Summer = EXTREMELY HOT = Tanner Brystal = Going to the sea a lot = being with friends all the time = taking the public transportation always = always broke = .... Wow I am an exchange student :) HAHA! 

If at the end of your list you always end it with "broke" then it might be because your an exchange student OR you need to work more.... For me it was the first! Probably the second too...! 

So yes, that has been my summer so far. Lots of time at the sea! Even more time with my friends! I have never been to the sea so often before... Ever! I like staying inside in summer as I burn so easily! Sunscreen just is my life savor! Without it, I look like a burnt piece of toast. So attractive right? Yea I know..... 

This summer I have also gotten my grades! I had to wait a while for them but I am glad I got them! I can now finish this year and not need to redo it. I also took a lot of photos with my school teachers. Speaking about teachers, my English Teacher planned a dinner with me, my class, and all my teachers. It was so sweet because I knew they were all there for me! That's a really good feeling about being an exchange student, your suddenly very important. Always. So I love my school really, and everyone in it. Galileo Galilei <3 

Other smaller things: I got to see Mary and Emi (Host Sisters) become models! Really, they were casted for a live ... Not sure what to call it? When they stand in the clothing like mannequins but also walk around trying to sell the stuff while talking.... Ok well I will call this "Live walk-o-sell. " It was a lot of fun and it did make be feel similar to a potato... Anything next to them makes me feel fat. Not like giantly fat, but defiantly not Italian skinny. Oh well :) I am American! Sporting my culture! 

A different night my sisters and I, with our Aunt went driving. She has a car without a hood.... Convertible. So we just cruised down the streets at full steam standing up. No big, except for hair problems after! I got to finally take a picture next to Lamezia's Castle. I guess it brings my experience to a full circle. The castle is the first thing I saw on google images in September before I left. So I remembered it. 

I should mention I spend a good part of my time trying to sneak taking photos with them all to put in a Photo Book I am making for them. #Selfie!! (With all y'all too!) 

Happy few days left Brystal and every other very sad/HAPPY/miserable/excited exchange student this year! 2013-2014 is a year to remember. 

Why? Because I changed. 

| § | XOXO Brystal | § | 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


Can I even explain how excited I am that I have pretty much finished school, one year exactly in Italy. I am sad that I won't be able to come back, but also very excited to spend my last month in Italy on vacation! Soon it will be all over, and I will be on a plane for the states! I guess I am not to upset about that either because my host sisters are coming with me for the summer! Well two out of three! So watch out america, these girls are gorgeous and never fail to make me feel like a potato. :)

My last month of school in Italy were probably the fastest, it just kept going and going and then it was gone! I spent a good part of the month doing a lot of nothing, my teachers were always on school trips, so I didnt have to go to class. As I was the only one present, so instead I spent a lot of time in the computer labs working on my graduation project! Which is basically perfect also! Now if the teachers were not on trips, sometimes they would just not be there. I think they cashed in their sicks days, ya know? Well I didnt complain!

What was seriously funny was that my English teacher here missed school for about a month, as she went to Ireland with some kids from school. She came back May 23rd, really only like a week of school exsisted after that. This kind of thing happened in my year alot, so if you plan to be an exchange student, I suggest getting 1-2 hours of "Self Study" put into your schedule. It helps kill the time when you have nothing to do! Like use it to catch up on any translating you will have to do. Plus, as for me, if your teachers just end up not going to school, you need somewhere to go, and it is already well known that you can use the room. Well at least in my school :) Science schools, got-to-love-them!

This year in Italy was really Once in a life time! "Solo una volta nella vita!" 

Well to everyone else finishing up the end of their years, "In bocca del lupo!"-"Good luck!" Till next time!
| § | XOXO Brystal | § | 

I am really going to miss everyone, thank you all for the amazing year!
 Grazie a tutti per quest'anno! 
English class 5A

English class 5C

Monday, May 19, 2014

Tips for Studying Abroad

Well this had to come sooner or later! I might as well say it now, before I forget! :) These I have gathered through my months in Italy, things I came across! -Maybe they wont be helpful, or maybe they will, oh well we will see!-

If you go ANYWHERE:

  1. Bring photos from home, a lot! - I made the mistake of bringing like 2, and for the longest time I had no pictures of my Mom, Dad, Sister 1-2. I only had a picture of me and my last sister. Can we say fail on my part?
  2. Seriously, check the weather! Look at the year round normal temperature, then ask your host family what you can wear to school. - I brought mostly all dresses, and I couldnt even wear them or heels to school, only long pants. So check the weather and pack accordingly!
  3. I suggest you pack ahead, like a month ahead. Weigh it all, and see if you can drag it around by yourself because god knows you will. Then like put it all in a different draw in your room, see if you like it all a month later!
  4. Bring small gifts that mean something to you, for the host family. Just do not go to crazy with them, get them better gifts later after you have known them for awhile!
  5. Get some flashcards with some words in the language you will learn. Bring them with you to help learn quicker. Then at the end of the year, look at them again and see how many you know! - I had about 200.... over achiever I know.
  6. Ask the returnees, or people from AFS about what is expensive in your country you will go to. - Headache medicine in Italy, like 10 pills is almost 5 euros, when I seriously had about 100 at home that my mom wanted me to take with me. Smack* Why didnt I listen?! - sorry Ma!
  7. Learn some basic survival expressions. Like, "My name is ___, I am a foreign exchange student." "Help me please." "Can I have___" "Where is___" - Yup, you do not want to be learning this stuff when you get there, learn it before!
  8. This is more like advice but, you will not understand jokes for a long time. So deal with it! Most languages have weird phrases that are funny, but when you translate them, or have someone explain them to you, well they lose the joy! - It happened for months to me! - Still now with new jokes, oh Italy! 
  9. Also in class you will not be speaking much, k? Thats just normal as you will be FOREIGN! So my suggestion for the first few months is to find one or two great friends that can handle your bad language skills. When you feel more comfortable with the language, thats when you can be yourself again!
  10. Plane tips: If you are like me and never flew on a plane before, then this might help... might... It was still awful for me the first time! - Bring a U shaped pillow, because there is a higher chance that you will get an aisle seat, and not a window seat. Also bring gum to chew for when your ears will pop, and if that does not work try to yawn/swallow! (Gosh my first time was just terrible, is it normal to feel like your exploding from the inside out?) Lastly, wear layers! LAYERS! LAYERS! It gets cold!

Now if you go to ITALY:
  1. I suggest buying any type of pencils, pens, adgenda books in the USA and bring them. I just remember spending to much for something that was not worth that.
  2. The same with notebooks, I bought ugly ones, 20 to be exact for about 20 euros. Like 25+ dollers, when I could have bought the 50c ones in America and brought a few. (This is if you have room in your bags, or ship it!)
  3. You probably do not need to bring heels, maybe one pair for going out with friends, but seriously in my school the students just didnt wear them!
  4. Hand gestures are some what a different language here. I suggest you get to know a few! Or all, seriously it is the second language of Italy, and the third is the dialect! (I dont think you will ever understand both of those + the language Italian in 10 months) 
  5. If you live in the north it is cold! Napels, Italy is about at the same altitude of NY city, so when you are up in Milan or wherever, it will be freezing!  Or, if you get to live in the south like I did, it still gets cold there! - SO BRING A JACKET! I "forgot" mine because I thought it was hot all year round, wow was I wrong! In the south where I am, all of winter it was raining! 
  6. Well I suggest also bringing a watch, you will never know when you will need it. - For example my school did not have clocks!
  7. Suggestion time! - Meet the host family over email long before you go there, that was a mistake on my part! I ended up switching families later. It was just so weird, moving in with people I didnt know! I talked to my first host family about 5 times before I ended up living with them for 5 months.  

MOST IMPORTANT TIP! - Bring only what you need, you will get most of the stuff you want where you will go! So like those extra boots, makeup, fashion jackets you have packed, well leave them at home!!  AND ALWAYS, leave extra room in your bag for when you need to go back home!

I have my two host sisters filling some of their suitcases with my stuff for when we go back to the USA together, because I have no room. Also right now the garbage can seems to be my best friend!

Hope this helps, and till next time! | § | XOXO Brystal | § |

Blogs also about packing!
Thanks Ali! BTW she is in Germany!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

All Around The World

        Where did April go? Literally I must be that exchange student that never seems to go to school. I am pretty positive I went to school enough times to count on my hands only once. I just happened to be so busy in April, and this is something exchange is great for!  

        I had my exchange week in Bergamo at the end of march. When I returned, I had 1 week of school to deal with before my second exchange week started.  

        The second exchange week was technically not mine, because it was hosted in Lamezia where I live. I was more like the person who helped. Some exchange students from the NORTH, came to the south to stay with us.  Everyday we traveled, or stayed at the cooking school. I even got to go to Reggio Calabria!!! There we saw the Bronzes. They are two statues that are made from bronze. They we found recently, but were hidden underwater since before Christ. They really look like Greek Gods to me. I suggest seeing them!  

        This exchange week included kids from America, Japan, Thailand, Russia, Germany, Dominican Republic,and others places! I seriously got to meet people from all over, it's really cool! The world is small!  

        So, I got done with this week and I had 2 days of school and then Easter Break! Good timing right?! Well the day after break I had a third more different type of Exchange week. This one was with my school, because they invited teens from Belgium to come for a week. *They did not speak Italian* So everything was in English! All I did during my second exchange week, I got to do again, but in English with them. For example, traveling to Tropea and Reggio Calabria!  

        I really had no time to relax at all, but it was a break from my normal. I finally finished my vacation Tuesday 29th! But to be real for a second, I only have 2 MONTHS LEFT! What happened?!? Please explain to me time, because seriously it was much slower at the beginning. Now it is like someone is hitting fast-forward. Can who ever is doing that, STOP PLEASE?!. Thanks/Grazie!  

Well I could write all I did, but I feel like that would be boring, so I can state it all in photos. Enjoy!  

Till next time! 
| § | XOXO Brystal | § | 

This is the group of exchange students in Italy 
Beauty is just a thing in Italy!
Cooked with these 2 italian guys and my American Friend Kate!
Yes, that is Sicily you are seeing!
Did I mention we made cocktails at 9 in the morning, and drank them! (That is James bond from Japan & Glenn from America)
This was the third exchange week with the kids from Belgium! I am in the front row.
Got to see a castle too! 
Please ignore me in general and look at the waterfall behind me! (We climbed a mountain to get there....never again)