With the J-Term suddenly behind me and the spring semester rapidly approaching, this past week I found myself constantly reflecting on how much growth I have experienced thus far. And on Wednesday, February 5th, as I celebrated my 21st birthday, I also celebrated this incredible journey that has made me feel more at home with myself than ever before.
After a day filled with meetings and conferences, I came home that Wednesday eager to unwind from the busyness of it all. As I walked into my apartment, I was greeted by my host mom, Alessandra, her best friend, her daughter, and her granddaughter, all of whom were eager and excited to be part of my special day. Before dinner my host mom invited me to watch them pray. And being that Alessandra is Buddhist and I am Catholic, I was unfamiliar with the rituals and prayers they were reciting. But even still, as a religion major, I was completely fascinated by what I was watching. After they finished praying, Alessandra’s best friend turned to me and said, “this is our life, not part of it.” I smiled because I knew exactly what she meant. Religion is not just something they do, it is how they choose to live, and I like to think that the same is true for me.
Shortly after the prayer, her friend had to leave due to prior engagements, but the rest of us enjoyed a lovely dinner, which was followed by a delicious cake that my host mom kindly bought for me. They sang happy birthday to me in multiple languages and Alessandra’s granddaughter helped me blow out the candle on my cake. It was truly a delightful evening spent with my family here in Italy. I love this city. I love the family I’ve been welcomed into and the friends I have made along the way. And although I was missing home (in the States) more than ever last week, I had a perfect birthday celebration, filled with warm wishes and love (from both near and far).
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">My name is Natalie Maria Reynoso and I am currently a junior at Wheaton College, Norton, MA where I study religion and psychology. I am a passionate Catholic and an avid reader and writer. I have always loved writing because it provides me with a way to better understand the world and my place in it.</span></p>