Monday, November 19, 2012

Forza Italia!

19 Novembre 2012

Words cannot begin to describe my emotions and experiences I’ve had here in Italia. I’ve never had so many thoughts running through my mind at one time. It was and has been an ongoing feeling of excitement and anxiety. Being here has made me grow as a person. It has made me more cultured, self-aware, independent and most of all confident. Living in Firenze has made me more perceptive, I stop and actually look around and listen. This semester has been more than just school for me; it has been about going out of my comfort zone, finding who I am as a person, and who I want to be in the future. There are habits I’ve adapted to in italian culture that i’d like to keep when I return home, and there are habits I’ll be happy to leave here.

Studying abroad in Italy has been more of an a personal goal I’ve had since coming here as a teen with my high school Italian class. Coming from an italian backround, and knowing I was going to stay in Italy for 4 months, I had more excitement than I knew what to do with! To completely immerse myself into Italian culture and experience it first hand has been a real treat. I find myself adapting very well. I’ve grown up with many of the same traditions with food, hearing the language at home, and celebrating the same holidays. I’m comfortable here because of the ties I have to Italy.

There were 2 things I wanted to accomplish before I left Italy, and that was going to my familys’ restaurant Piccolo Arancio, in Roma, and visting Sicilia. I was so happy I got to do both! Sicily was one place I knew I had to visit because of my dad’s hertiage, & when I finally set foot on that beautiful island I could not stop smiling. Eating at the original Piccolo Arancio where my cousins, aunts, and uncles learned to cook was unreal. I ordered the same meal, Ravioli di Arancia, that I order at home when I go to Piccolo Arancio in Farmington, CT. Also, I met a cousin whom I’ve never met before, her name is Mara. We took pictures and drank lemoncello together. It was wonderful to share that moment with her.

Overall, I think I have definitely gotten a lot more out of studying abroad than I had anticipated. For the time we have left here i'm going to make sure I do as much as possible and soak up every moment. I’m excited for the weeks to come, things will start to slowly change over to the Christmas season (the best time of the year!) and it will be time to say “Buon Natale!” 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Euro Adventures

There are no words to describe the experience I have had in Italy thus far this semester. Hesitant about studying in Florence before arriving, I know now that I couldn’t have made a better decision. From the very first day upon arriving, I instantly felt at home. Adapting to the slower pace life that Italians live wasn’t easy, but now I find myself sitting in cafes for hours at a time and speaking Italian with random people on the streets. Walking to class, I am still amazed at the sights I see everyday. Being able to visit a different museum or church every art history class is something I would have never imagined possible.
            Being in Florence, I have made sure to take advantage of traveling as much as possible. This past weekend, I went to Barcelona. Upon arriving to my hostel, I realized my wallet had been stolen. Even though that was not the best way to start my trip, I did not want to let if affect my time in Barcelona. In Barcelona, some of the many places I visited were Sagrada Familia, Parc Geull, and the Picasso Museum. Having taken Spanish for seven years, it was a great feeling to be able to have full conversations with the locals. My favorite meal in Barcelona was Tapas. This traditional Spanish food is a variety of appetizers and snacks that you pay for individually. Even with the bad start to my weekend, Barcelona ended up being one of my favorite places so far that I have visited.
          While traveling throughout Europe is an amazing experience, I still consider Florence to be my favorite place. After a long weekend in a different country, I feel ready to come home to Florence. I still discover new things everyday here, and can never get over the beauty of this city. As I reflect on the time I have been here, I can’t believe the time has flown by so fast. Even though I never want to leave Italy, I know I will be back in my home away from home. 


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Second Home

Here in Italy I have yet to feel that longing for home.  Homesickness can’t happen if your home is where you are.  Here in Florence, it has become second nature for my morning espresso. I don’t miss my large American Cappuccino latte that I used to order.  I don’t miss my car and driving to the closest Stop & Shop.  I love taking long walks down the streets I recognize. I know these cobbled streets, these churches, and I know where to go for the best Panini. You cannot feel a loss of home, when you have found your second one. 

Family also makes a home.  And luckily for me, I have an Italian family.  However, I had never met them before, and more interesting, they do not speak English.  You can imagine my excitement and nervousness for my invitation to Turino to visit family.  It was not just my Turino family though, it was also my Sicilian family that had traveled to Northern Italy to visit me.  I was overwhelmed and did not know what to anticipate during the six-hour train ride. 
Once I stepped off the train at the Turino Centrale station, I quickly embraced my Aunt Silvana and Uncle Franco.  I instantly felt at home.
They never sat down until I was at complete comfort.  All of my family welcomed me with a warm embrace, even if they didn’t understand my choppy and sad excuse for Italian.  All my family made sure I was given plenty of gifts, well rested every morning, and my tummy was stuffed with delicious home cooked food.
There was always a constant sense of family importance.  Story telling was always to be heard and food never ceased at the dinner table.  As long as there were laughs, we all stayed seated together.  We would enjoy one another's company for hours. 
It was very hard for me to say goodbye after so much kindness and hospitality they showed me.  I felt so at home in a place I had never been to, with people I had never met. 

I know I will leave Florence soon, but in the future I know I will come back. And I will still know my cobbled streets and my shops and my espresso just as I do now.  Because after all, Italy is my second home…