My journey from the United States to Italy, apart from being excruciatingly exhausting, went relatively smoothly until my arrival at Naples airport when I almost accidently left with the incorrect suitcase. After retrieving the correct suitcase, I met up with two classmates that had also just arrived and we were escorted to a van which took us directly to our new homes in Sorrento.
When we arrived to Sorrento, I was the first to be dropped off at the home of my host family. We pulled over to the side of a very busy road (I now know it’s called Corso Italia-the main road in Sorrento) where my host dad was waiting to help me transport my luggage. I had been skeptical about my decision to live with a host family, for several reasons. My Italian is less than proficient so I was concerned about communication and also, four months is a long time to live in someone else’s home. But, I knew that the experience I wanted was the most genuine possible, and by choosing to live with a host family I felt I would be doing so.
Much to my relief, as soon as the door of my new home was opened, I was greeted by four incredibly welcoming and smiling faces: my host mother, my two host sisters, and my new roommate. I wasn’t sure how to greet them, so I clumsily jumped into the Italian cultural norm of the kiss on each cheek and proceeded to be given a tour of the home. Since I arrived so late, I only managed to settle in a little bit before the first of many nightly feasts, otherwise known as dinner. The food was amazing. The first plate that was brought out was a bowl of pasta so obviously my roommate and I were ecstatic to be having our first real Italian pasta. We ate it up eagerly and were completely content with the meal. But then the food kept coming, there were at least three courses, and all were equally delicious. We thought perhaps the amount of food was to welcome us to Italy, but we soon came to find out that this would be a nightly endeavor.
The next day we had orientation at Sant’Anna which included a short informational session, an enormous meal in Marina Grande, and a much-needed walking tour of Sorrento. Sorrento is small but incredibly beautiful. At the moment, this ideal Italian destination is bustling with tourists from all over the world. We have been told that Sorrento is in high season and that by October, the atmosphere of the town will change completely as all the tourists return from holiday. Even so, the locals are very kind and though I have only been here a week I have already found myself running into people I know when I am out and about. My host sisters have also been extremely kind and my roommate and I have been able to practice our rudimentary Italian with their friends when they take us out to local spots.
My classmates and I have been taking advantage of the beautiful weather and the many nearby beaches and have already been on a few excursions. Transportation in the area has proven to not be as difficult as I imagined as there is an extensive bus and train system. I look forward to really exploring and learning about the area I’m living in over the next four months. I was so excited to come here and now that I’m here, I’m so happy I chose this place. Everyone has been so welcoming and helpful, the classes and professors at my new school are great, and I don’t think I could have picked a more beautiful location.
Anna is a current student at the University of South Carolina studying at Sant’Anna Institute in Italy during the Fall 2014 term.