Thursday, October 20, 2011

Girls Not Brides

Dear Humanity,

The issue of child brides has been bothering me for a long time now. 

I am a 17 year old girl from Ontario, Canada. I am just a teenager, not old enough to drink, vote, enlist in the military, or to get married! However, if circumstances were different and I was born in a place like; India, Sri Lanka, Rwanda, Kenya, or the Congo, there is a 1 in 3 probability that I would have been married off at the age of 8 or 9, even as young as 5 years old. My husband would most likely be 20 to 30 years older than me and probably extremely abusive. I would no longer be allowed to go to school and any chance I would of had at a job and a descent future would be washed away. As soon I started to get my period I would have been forced to bare children, possibly dying in the process and with an even greater chance that my baby would be dead within the first year! If I survived long enough to see my 17th birthday I would most likely have 5 or 6 children under my care, stricken with poverty and no way out.

That is the life for over 64 million women, between 20-24 years of age, who were married or in union before the age of 18! Help stop the injustice! If you are just as disturbed by what has been happening, and will continue to happen so long as we stand idly by, than please join in my quest to spread awareness of this horrible tragedy. Too many times we go on with our lives not realizing how lucky we truly are to live in a part of the world where we are free to live our lives the way we choose!

Please help spread the word, in the hope that one day this will no longer be an issue and that many more girls will be able to live their lives in the same fortunate circumstances that I am luckily enough to find myself in. 
For information on this situation and for ways to help go to the website,, an organisation dedicated to the irradification of child brides!

Thank you,

The voice of the silenced!

Monday, October 17, 2011

My Fun Filled, Adventurous Weekend!

On Friday I had my first vocal performance with my choir! We were performing at a school so that meant that I was able to leave school early to sing. I went to my italian lesson in the morning until 10 am and than I had to bike to Aselli, my school, to show them my justification for not staying in for rest of my classes. Next I went home, changed into my black dress and then went to meet Louisa, my friend in the choir, and Michele who was driving us. When we arrived at the school we ran though a few of the songs and then waited for the the auditorium to fill with students. Once we were finally ready to start the mistero introduced the choir as a whole but then he did something that surprised me, he introduced me alone, saying that I was from Canada and that his choir was now officially international. To be fare I have no idea if that was how he said it or not because I only understood a few words. The performance went really well and I felt proud that I was able to learn 12 songs, some that were even in Spanish, in only 2 weeks. Although I did not feel the usual rush that I normally get when I sing solo, I love performing in front of a crowd all the same!

On Saturday afternoon, Lauretta and her mother, took me to Valeia Romana. A small  Roman town in the mountains. It was a beautiful day and the leave were just starting to turn. It reminded me of Canada at the end of September! The drive took about an hour and once we reached the mountains it was like being on a roller coaster. The road we were on was so windy and up and down and it would curve to the right and then severely back to the left it was crazy! When we finally arrived at the archaeological site of Valeia Romana, I was feeling a little queasy. The site was small but the ruins were still pretty well preserved. I saw the Thermal baths, there was one for cold, medium, and hot water, those Romans were sure smart when it came to their bathing techniques! There were also the remains of the houses and stores that made up the small city. As well as the Basilica, where the day to day proceeding took place!

It felt so strange to be standing where these people lived 2000 years ago!

On Sunday Lauretta took Kayleigh, Ashley, Elizabeth and I to Verona!!! I was so excited and could not wait to see La Casa di Guiletta (Juliet's House...Romeo and Juliet). We drove to Brescia before boarding a train the rest of the way to Verona in total it was about 2 hours of travel time. When we arrived at the station in Verona we all needed to go to the bathroom but big shock here, you had to pay 0.80 cents to enter the washroom. I have never seen that before, and it wasn't as if the bathroom was immaculate it was very dingy and the hand dryers didn't even work!
The first thing we did when we left the station was walk to the Arena, a smaller, older version of the coliseum in Rome. I definitely think that it was my favourite part of Verona.

The Arena can hold up to 30,000 people and is now used for opera's!

After the Arena we walked to La Casa di Gulietta. Which was a huge disappointment, it was very crowded and not at all like how it is in the movie Letters to Juliet. However I did get my picture taken with the statue of Juliet and I touched her boob for good luck. It was funny because you could actually see that the boob and surrounding area was much more faded than that of the rest of her statue!

After that La Casa di Gulietta we walked to some old and beautiful churches, where we could see the tombs of past and ancient princes of Verona. For some reason they liked to have there tombs up high and on display for the whole world to see!

After a few more churches we stopped for a lunch an unfortunately very slow restaurant. We arrived there at 1:30pm and we didn't actually leave till about 3:30pm. Which if you ask me is way too long to be sitting at a table for lunch. Don't go There!

After lunch we walked to the river which had the most amazing views I have ever seen since I have been in Italy!
We walked a long this river for a few km before arriving at a CASTLE! which was really cool!

We walked around on the wall and on the bridge that stretched across the river and then we walked through the museum! The museum was the inside of the castle and it was incredible I have never seen anything so cool! Walked all along the inside of the towers and courtyard and multiple living areas turned art galleries. It was all very interesting!

Once we left the castle we walked for another 20 minutes or so to another church but it was different than the other churches we went to, this one was massive. It was so beautiful that when you walk in you are immediately stunned in to silence. People who know me know that I am not an overly religious person but even I felt the need to sit down and send a prayer to God. 

Once we left the church we wandered around for a little while trying to find a bus to take us to the station but to no avail. Apparently city buses don't run on Sundays in Verona. Keep that in mind if you ever want to visit the beautiful city. So we finally made it back to the station, our feet where dead but we made it :)
The train was pretty full so we didn't all get to sit together like on the way there, so I just put in my head phones and relaxed. It is now a day later and my feet still hurt from all the walking we did!

So long for now!!

Amanda ♥

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Ufficio D'immigrazione!

This morning I had to go to the Italian immigration office in Cremona, by my self! I found the office easily enough. It was right next to the last government building I was in, across from the Ponchielli Theatre. I arrived at 8:30am, the office wasn't open yet but there was already a long line at the door. I knew right than that this would be a long morning. When I finally got inside, there was one seat left so I sat down. A few more people arrived and around 9:15am a man popped his head through the door and said something in Italian. He spoke really fast so I couldn't quite understand him. Something about appointments at 9:00am being pushed to 9:30am. I asked out loud that if any one spoke English, could they please translate for me. In response I had 12 heads turn to look at me with a confused/amused look on their faces. I guess not! Just then Matt walked in with his host cousin and her friend, thank god a friendly face. I jumped out of my seat and ran over to him but before I could reach him a had shot out and grabbed my arm. It was Sierra a friend of mine from my Italian course. Apparently she had been there for a while and I just didn't notice her. They wondered why I looked kind of freaked so I told them the story about what just happened to me with the staring people. Then Kayleigh showed up, it was like an exchange student party going on in the immigration office! After a while of Matt playing get to know you with Sierra, we started talking about war. Which then brought up the topic of religion and how Matt is Agnostic but Kayleigh is Christian and we got into a conversation about the legitimacy of God. Which than became a conversation about science and the theory of relativity and the String theory. Once we had exhausted all our knowledge on those subject we went on to play a couple of card games. Keep in mind that this was all going on within the waiting area of the Italian Immigration office! Kayleigh, Matt and Matt's host cousin played Briscola, an Italian card game played with Spanish cards. Sierra and I both found the game extremely confusing, so we just watched. Than we played a  variation of the game spoons it was a lot of fun, but before we could play a 5th round it was my turn to go into the office. By this time it was already 10:45am. In the office the man looked at my passport, put some information into his computer than took all my finger prints and both of my palm prints. After that I had to sign a couple of pieces of paper. In all it took 2 and a half hours from the time I arrived there this morning to the time I left. It was definitely a much more enjoyable experience than that of the Italian Visa office in Toronto, but I still hate all government offices!  

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Success! Thanksgiving in Italy

Ciao Tutti,
I did it! I succeed! I cooked the perfect Thanksgiving turkey! Moist and succulent, everything a turkey should be! 
Today was a very long day of cooking and eating. I never realized how exhausting cooking a meal like Thanksgiving could be.  I have much respect for all the mothers and grandmothers out there! 

So my day started off with Angela waking Kayleigh and I up at 9:30am. Than I made pancakes with maple syrup for everyone! It was so nice to have maple syrup again! Then Kayleigh host dad picked her up and Lauretta and I got down to business. First we organised the cooking and prep times that would need to happen in a specific order. At 1:30pm we began preparing the turkey and all that the entails.

Then at 2:30pm we put the turkey in the oven. Next we peeled and chopped all the vegetables. That took a long time because there were so many of them! Next we did the mashed potatoes. That was when Ashley came over to help. Since Ashley and I are the only two Canadians in D2050 we wanted to celebrate our Thanksgiving. Once we finished boiling the taters we moved on to laying the vegetables on to 2 baking sheets. 

 When the turkey was finished we tented it with foil and let it rest in the microwave to keep it's heat. We didn't have it on though! Then we put the veggies in the oven and cranked it up to 230* C. While the veggies were cooking we made the rice. Once the veggies finished cooking and everyone arrived we put everything into bowls! Since neither Ashley or I knew how to carve a turkey we let Lauretta do the honours. All the food tasted amazing and we managed to serve everything hot. For dessert we ate the tirami su  that Angela and I made on Friday! I had never tried it before and I really liked it! Although the gravy ended up being really thick and the cranberry sauce wasn't exactly how my mom or my grandmother would have made it was still a really good Thanksgiving dinner. 

It did make me feel a little depressed. I was just sitting at the table thinking, here I am in strange country, celebrating a holiday that they don't even celebrate here, with people who are not my family. I'm feeling pretty low now. I miss my family! I miss seeing my cousins and my aunts and uncles and my grandparents. I miss the changing of the leaves and the crisp, fresh air. But most all I miss the security of knowing that everyone that loves me is sitting in the same room. 
Even though I have been feeling sad periodically today, it was still a great Thanksgiving, and I'm so stoked that I was able to pull it off! 

Ciao Ragazzi,
Amanda ♥


Yesterday was just another amazing day spent with my wonderful new friends in Italy!
Rotary took our district on another trip ieri (yesterday). We went to Franciacorta an area just north of Brescia, that is famous for producing wine! Before meeting up with the rest of the exchange students in Brescia, we stopped at a gas station where there were 5 red Ferrari just sitting in the parking lot. So of course being exchange students we all had to get out of the car and take pictures with them!

Once all the exchange students were together in Brescia, we drove to Franciacorta to an old museum, where we saw old riffles and armour used more than 400 years ago by the Italian military! We also saw an old steel working building where they made all the weapons. It is still in use and they make farming tools for the local farms. After we left the museum we went to a cantina, the place where the pick, ferment and store the grapes/wine to be sold. The wine has to stay stored in the warehouse for 2 years before it can be sold to the buyers. To finish off the tour, Ana, one of the owners of the cantina, took us up to the roof, where we ate some food and tried some wine. The wine was vino bianco, sparkling white, and it was pretty good, a little bitter for me but it was still good.
Next we drove to a local restaurant in Franciacorta, that served really good risotto, but even better birthday cake. Yesterday was Katie Li's birthday!! So the ristorante (restaurant) made a special birthday cake that was absolutely amazing, so much better than Canadian birthday cake!
The ristorante had also put bottles of vino rosse (red wine) on the table, so Kellie asked Giorgio if we could try the red since we only tried the white wine at the cantina. I liked the red wine more than the white. It was a little more sweet than the white.
Once we left the ristorante we went for a walk through town to work off the many courses of food we just ate! Than we walked through this beautiful park, but it was more like a provincial park than a children's play park! It was really beautiful. We ended up finishing our walk at a gelateria where I had pesca (peach), banana, and yogourt in a cup so AMAZING!

That night Francesco took Matt and I to meet some of his friends for dinner. It was our now mutual friend, Angela's birthday. We went to a really nice Pizzeria near the bus station. All in all I think there may have been 13 of us. It was a lot of fun! After dinner we all walked to the duomo, where we met up with Kayleigh, Ashley, Elizabeth and Kurt! We walked around for few more hours, bar hopping, even though we weren't aloud to drink Francesco an some his friends did! It was a lot of fun, I met a lot of new friends and I am looking forward to the next Saturday night!

Today I am cooking Thanksgiving dinner with my other Canadian friend Ashley and my host mom! I really hope it turns out well because Thanksgiving if my favourite holiday and it really sucks that I can't spend it with my family and my mom and my grandmother's amazing food. I will tell you more tonight, once we have finished eating!


Friday, October 7, 2011

The Problem with Cooking Canadian Recipes in Italy

Ciao Tutti!
Hi All!
So I just finished a trek to another super market but this one was very pleasant. Unlike the last one where it was over crowded and the people where pushy, this one was very nice and not at all annoying. It reminded me of Loblaw! Anyway we went to try an find my cranberries that I needed for thanksgiving but it was impossible, they weren't in season so they were not available. I decided that I couldn't have thanksgiving with out cranberry sauce so Lauretta bought a small bucket of cranberry marmalade that was quite good! I took my moms recipe she gave me and combined it with the marmalade. Adding the apples, oranges and lemon and leaving out the sugar since it was already sweet enough! Angela and I had a difficult time trying to get the food processor to work but we eventually got it running. The concoction actually turned out pretty good and I'm sure it will taste great with the half a turkey I am cooking on Sunday! If your wandering why it is only half it is because their oven is too small for a whole turkey!
Angie also taught me how to make Tirami Su today, which is surprisingly easy to make! 
Here is the recipe!

3 Eggs
6 Tbls of Sugar
500 Grams of Mascarpone 
Biscotti (number depends on how big your dish is)

1. Separate 3 eggs into 2 large mixing bowl with the egg white in one bowl and the yokes in the other.
2. Add 6 tbls of sugar to the bowl with the yokes. Whisk well on high with mixer. make sure to use the flat whisks.
3. Add 500 grams of mascarpone. Whisk well.
4. Whisk egg whites on high with the wide metal whisks until fluffy.
5. Adding a little at a time, add the the eggs whites to the mixture. Mix well with mixing spoon.
6. Take a biscotti and soak in coffee, than place into dish. Repeat step making sure to place each biscotti 1 cm apart, until the bottom of the dish is covered. 
7. Pour mix over the biscotti using the whole bowl.
8. Repeat step six, placing the biscotti over the mix. 
9. Optional- sprinkle a ligh layer of coco power over top layer of biscotti.
10. Cover with lid/plastic wrap and put in freezer. 

*Please note that I am not a very good cook and if my directions lead to astray I am very sorry. That is what Google is for!

Amanda ♥

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Forgetful Me

I almost forgot!
Today marks my 1 month mark! Today is exactly 4 weeks since I first arrived in Italy. I can't believe I've been here for a month. On one hand I think, where has the time gone? But there is still a piece of me that feels that I have been here forever! It's hard to believe that I have been away from my home and my family and my friends for one whole month and that it will continue for another 9 months. 269 days left of my exchange. 269 days before I return home. 269 days to grow into a new me! I know I shouldn't be counting down the days but some days all I want to do is count down to the day that I will get to go back to my old life instead of this completely new and scary life that I can not see the future of. Don't get me wrong I love Italy and my new friends and my host family but sometimes I just want to go back to the security of knowing exactly what my future holds. There is another part of me that is yelling for the insecure me to shut up. After all, this is what I wanted, to get out of Collingwood, to see the world and meet new people. So that is what I have to do. I need to stop thinking about all the things I would be doing if I was back home. Italy is my home now. I  only have 269 days to become a citizen of the world, so I have better stop counting and start living! 

That's all for now,
Amanda ♥

Singing in Italian

I just want to start this post by staying, I am SO LUCKY!! 

Italy is affording me so many opportunities to sing and be apart of something so beautiful! Yesterday I had my first private singing lesson with my new teacher Monica, She is a native English speaker but is fluent in Italian so she is helping me with my Italian as well as my singing. Right off the bat she started to explain the anatomy of the body; the lungs, the diaphragm, the vocal cords. I have never had a teacher explain the basics of singing like that to me before it was really good! After we did some warm ups and breathing exercises, she had me sing a few song that I know. She said that I have a good, natural voice! YAY! At the end of the lesson she gave me two song for homework; Papa Can You Hear Me by Barbra Streisand and Ave Maria by BeyoncĂ©, 2 pretty hard songs :S 

That night I went to Choir practise again. I'm really starting to get the hang of it. The Italian is pretty to sing and they are even singing a couple of English songs, one is called Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, I'm sure some of you know that song. Along with the two English songs we are also singing a couple of Spanish songs, which sound really pretty. I have my next practise on Friday and I can't wait!

Today Edo, my younger host brother, took me to meet the director of Cremona's first youth choir. It is new this year and they are looking for people aged 12-25. Ideally they would like for it to be just teens, 13-19, but for now they are opening it up to more people. I really like the idea of this choir because they will be teaching theory as well as singing. So I would have two lessons a week, one theory and the other singing. I am really considering this because it would be a good way to meet more kids my own age who share similar interests. Also it would start in November, so hopefully by then my communication skills will be much better!

I am also going to be participating in my school's talent show! I'm so excited!! I think I am going to sing Ave Maria by BeyoncĂ© since I am already doing it for class and it is such a beautiful song (here is the link if your not sure what song I'm talking about, Giada is going to play the piano and back up vocals and I am going to sing and maybe play the guitar! I love preforming so this will be so great! 

There is also a singing competition at the end of this month that I would like to participate in but I am going to be in Rome with Lauretta! I can't do everything, but I am sure as hell gonna try :p There are also many other performance opportunities for me that are put on through my music school and my choirs, so I am sure by the end of my year here in Cremona, everyone will have heard me sing! 

I made a promise to my self that one day I would set the world on fire! Well this is how I am going to do it, on town, country and continent at a time!

Ciao e Buonasera 

Amanda ♥

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Week 3

This past week has been a week of new discoveries for me! Not that evey week in Italy isn't. It all started last Saturday night when I went to this bar, Lex, in the town's city center, with my friend Giada from school and a bunch of her friends. It was a lot of fun and kind of weird because even though I didn't drink, I was still at a bar, where I was technically legal! After a while some of my ofther friends found us and we went to a different bar. I deffinitely got to experience a whole new energy to Cremona. By 11:30pm we were all beat so, Francesco, Matt and Kayleigh walked me home before heading home themselves. All in all a very sucessful first saturday night! 

 The next morning my host parents woke me up at 8:30am to go for a bike ride with this large group of people all 50 and older, there was one guy there that was 87! Along the way my host dad, Roberto, told me a little family history about the town that we were riding to. Apparently during WW2, Cremona was an area that had been bombed, so Roberto's family and a lot of others picked up and moved to this little town 15km away. Then ,when the war was over, they returned. As I said before this little town was 15km away, which might not sound that far but on a bike it was long, 30km there and back!  It took us an hour and a half to get there and another hour to get back. Instead of going straight back to Cremona the group had a huge lunch set up for all the cyclists. The meal was great but there was so much food that I was full after the first 2 courses! That night I went with Sam and Kayleigh, to watch our friend Matteo sing. He was sing with this large jazz band called the Swingers. He was really good! We stayed to watch a few songs by the band but Kayleigh and I were both tired to we waited for Matteo to finish and then congradulated him and said goodbye. Since we had school the next day we both didn't want to stay too long. 

On wednesday night I thought I had an audition for a choir, so the past two days I was practising the song that I sang at the Barrie Kiwanis Music Festival last spring, On My Own from Les Miserables. I figured since I won first place with it that it would be a good song to sing. Much to my surprise I had misuderstood my host mom and it wasn't actually an audition, just more of a go, sing and see if you like it. I did like it and I had planned on going again to the next choir rehearsal on Friday but the next day I came down with a cold! 

Thursday was a bit of a wurl wind, I was really tired, feeling like crap and very much resenting school! But that afternoon I went with Giada to meet here her vocal coach and see how her lessons went. The teacher is very nice and originally from England so she speaks fluent English, now a nother of my many italian tutors! I really like her and she was the least expensive teacher I found, so we scheduled a time for me to come in next week and sing for her and see if I like her teachings. 

As I mentioned earlier I came down with a cold on Thursday, so as you could expect I wasn't exactly feeling amazing on Friday, but I went to my Italian lesson anyway because I had already missed Tuesdays' due to an appointment with the Italian tax registry people (not sure what their actual tittle is :P). After my Italian lesson I was feeling even worse so my teacher called my house keeper, the only person home at that hour, and asked if she could inform my school that I would not be attending the rest of my classes! I went straight home from there and slept for hours. 

Today, Saturday, I still feel like my face is going to fall off, so I stayed home from school again. Staying home from school on Saturday, should be awesome right? Just watch movies and relax, well your wrong. I feel awful and it sucks. I have already drank 10 cups of tea today and each time I feel better but that only last for 20 minutes or so and then it's back to feeling shitty!

Va bene, heres hoping I feel better tomorrow! 

Amanda ♥