I’ve been home now for 3 months and in the midst of normality and lack of free time. I’ve been home now for about half the time I was in Italy, and the adjustment to be back here has been difficult for me. Currently, I’m supposed to be doing my homework, working on thesis, reading books, researching, probably eating a little bit better but instead i’m laying here in my bed on this chilly October day wondering why i’m here and what i’m doing, and reflecting on my time abroad. This is nothing new, this has been every day since I came home from study abroad. And while the reverse culture shock lasted about 2 weeks when I came back to America, I’m still feeling this after affect of being in a place that’s so far away from where I was calling home for 6 months. My heart aches when I skype with Alberto because he feels so close to me even while being 4000 miles away and 6 hours ahead. And sometimes, I don’t even know how to let my feelings out. I experienced so much and I have no one to even talk to about it. Even if I did, I don’t even know how to put it into words. Nothing sounds right. Nothing I say could depict a perfect image of the things I saw and experienced and if given the chance to do absolutely everything all over again, I would do it in a heartbeat. Through the struggles, and the culture shock, the frustration over not knowing the language enough and the every 2 week study abroad sickness that came from traveling too much and running our bodies down. I would do every weekend trip again with the occasional missed train and miscommunication, I cry often in reflection of this experience. And when I look back on videos and pictures from the beginning of my study abroad experience, I feel like I don’t even recognize myself.
Embodying the ever-so-famous Lizzie McGuire before my flight to Italy in January
And sharing in the ethereal moment that was showing my family la fontana di Trevi in July
I wish I could pour out my heart and soul into this blog to tell everyone how I’ve been feeling but it’s near impossible to do so. I’m discouraged and frustrated that i’m losing all of my skills in Italian, and i’m even more frustrated that Italy is so far away. That it costs me so much just to see the people I love and am missing. I want to walk the streets of Rome again, to see all of the monuments like it would be for the first time. I want to stand in front of the grand Colosseum and the Trevi fountain to throw all of my coins in there, to use the euro again, and to speak to every restaurant owner in my poor italian about my nut allergy. I miss hearing how the italian words, even the simplest, fall out of the italians mouths, buongiorno, c’e, invece, insieme, dolce, cHelsius and etcHetera because that’s how they pronounce it and it’s so beautiful. I miss the sounds and feeling behind each and every pronunciation. I miss the roman accent above all. I miss the spirit of the Italians. And how beautiful it feels to watch a soccer game with them. To be in that heat and fiery emotion. I miss waiting for my train in termini and staring up at the large sign listing the platform numbers. I miss being surrounded by the artwork that is graffiti in this country and the architectural masterpieces around each and every corner. I can’t even believe that some of the things that I did even happened. I feel like my time in Italy is timelocked. I don’t even know how to explain it. I miss walking the streets of Perugia, Firenze, Vasto, Benevento, and so many others. I miss my family, I miss my friends, and my teachers and mentors at Roma Tre, I miss my supervisors at my internship, and getting off the metro every monday and friday at Piramide to walk there. I miss Alberto above all.
However, this is only the surface of my experience in Italy. I think what makes me most sad is that I don’t want to lost those tiny moments that I can remember that are somewhere in my memory. I want to remember the feeling of walking through the streets outside of the Cavour metro station, looking for a place to eat dinner and deciding to take some wine to the steps and drink while we waited. I want to remember those nights I was too afraid or nervous or uncomfortable to bring Alberto to my apartment on via costantino because I had 5 other roommates so we would spend our nights on top of Pincio near Villa Borghese or at the top of other nearby gardens overlooking the city and we would drink wine and have to tell the people that walk around with bouquets of roses that we were siblings so that they would leave us alone. Thinking about this still makes me laugh. We would then spend the rest of our nights in the car listening to music and falling asleep on one another just down the street of the apartment. I miss forcing myself to speak Italian to shop owners, to tell people my allergy, to ask if there was a strike for the buses because it happened way too often, and those moments before my Italian was better when I would have had too much wine and think I spoke Italian fluently to my friends which was certainly not the case (how embarrassing!)
I want to remember how we would get lost in the cities of Campania and try new things. I want to remember the first time I tried espresso in Italy and the first time I ate a delicious dessert called babba. I want to make sure I remember my Italian friends meeting my family, seeing my grandmother’s face light up and be so happy at all times. When I sat around Ana’s table with my cousins who couldn’t speak English well but we were still able to laugh and make jokes that every time Ana made espresso she would break a dish or a cup and sure enough one fell from the shelf and we were laughing with no end. Having this moments with my family, even when we couldn’t communicate well, there was still always laughter that brought us together. And it made me wonder how life would be if I had always lived in Italy, or had traveled every summer to visit. The feeling of being on those small cobblestone paths in Vasto listening to Saverio try to communicate with my dad even though he speaks no English and dad speaks absolutely zero Italian. it was so refreshing to see my dad, this person that I rarely see cry, would tear up at the beautiful sights, and show such an appreciation for the family in Italy that i’ve never seen in him before. I want to remember how it feels to enter a city for the first time, to step off the train, the metro, a ferry, to turn a street corner – and see something magnificent in front of you. I want to remember my last night in Italy, every single minute of it. From eating my last real dish of amatriciana to wandering the quiet and empty streets of trastevere listening to music. Using the water fountains to throw water at each other and make jokes and try to have a little bit of fun even though I would cry at least every hour. I want to remember my last night at the trevi when I made one last wish and we were so incredibly tired at 4am to the point of delirium. We slept in the car for all of 1 hour, went to get a cappuccino and cornetto near termini and I proceeded to vomit in the sink of my hotel because I had so much anxiety about going back to America.
I’ve never seen my grandmother so happy
I wish I could say I was heavily exaggerating that last part, but I am not. I want to remember all of the little things and places that I traveled to and experienced. The top of the vittoriano that I loved so much, seeing piramide on my walks to my internship, what it looked like inside the blue grotto or on the shore of my grandmother’s hometown. The friendliness of some of the people around me who allowed me to practice my Italian with them and struggle through a heavy language barrier. I want to remember laughing with my friends in Perugia while we would have our potluck dinners and practice Dante’s inferno together.
i miei amici alla fontana maggiore a Perugia!
But my life in America is beautiful here too, of course it is, but I think I left part of my soul in Italy.
When I first came to Italy, my first weekend trip was to Venice and Verona. I wished to Giulietta that I was not looking for love, only for happiness.
Thank you for giving me both.