Ciao amici! It is day three in Italy, and things are going as well as can be expected. The night before my flights was a nightmare. Thank you United for claiming to confirm my flights, kicking me off at the last possible minute, and saying that in order for me to get a seat, I would have to pay triple the original amount. Somehow through all of the chaos, I managed to safely land in Florence, and meet up with my group in time to take the private bus to Siena.
Meeting my group members was an exciting, yet tiring process. We had all just gotten off various planes landing from all over the world, so we were all experiencing different levels of emotions ranging from excitment to nervousness, combinded with jetlag. For some people in the group, it is their first time ever being outside of the United States. Even though I've been fortunate enough to have traveled to many different countries, it's still scary and hard being abroad. I think the most important thing for a person to do when being abroad is to respect their emotions, and the emotions of others. Not everyone will feel the same about being in a completely new place, and that's okay. Compassion is key.
Driving up to the city was a surreal experience to say the least. There is a huge wall, or fortress that surrounds that old part of the city, which really emphasizes how medieval and ancient the town truly is. After we all entered Siena, we were picked up by our host families. I was one of the last people picked up, and felt oddly like a dog being adopted at the shelter, hoping that each new person was to be my new family. My host mother and father are amazing. My host father speaks a little bit of English, but my host mother doesn't, which is amazing and challenging at the same time. The parents went out of town for work the day after they picked me up, and the two daughters are away with other family, so my host grandmother has been staying with me. Picture the typical, happy, bustling Italian grandma, and that is my host grandma. She is possibly the sweetest person I have ever met. Even though she speaks zero english, and my italian is servely lacking in many departments, we are able to communicate through smiles, gestures, and a lot of laughs. Last night she and I ate pasta, chicken, and salad while watching a dramatic telenovela. It was the perfect evening.
Living with a host family is an experience like no other. Italian homes are very different than American ones. All of the little amenities that I unknowingling took for granted are missed dearly. For example, the toilet and front door are complete mysteries to me. To flush the toilet, you have to reach up to the ceiling to pull down a small lever. To open the front door, you have to practically bend your fingers in an unnatural angle to twist a knob that slightly resembles a door knob. I have had to ask my host grandma many times to show me how to work something as simple as a light switch. But even though it's embarrassing to be so unfamiliar with everything, it's always better to ask than to just assume you know how to use something, and risk breaking it.
Like many people have told me, Rome wasn't built in a day. It's important to stretch yourself and get out of your comfort zone, yet remain true to yourself and your core beliefs. Today I stretched myself by ordering my first cafe macchiato, and I ordered it in italian! Each day is a little victory, and it's very important to honor and awknowledge them.
Below are some pictures from our first days in Siena!
More Blogs From This Author
<p>I am a current junior majoring in Psychology and minoring in Italian at Sewanee: The University of the South. I am a proud member of Kappa Delta sorority, and am a coxswain for Sewanee's crew team. In my free time, I enjoy kayaking, reading, going for runs, and playing with my dogs.</p>