March was quite an eventful month. Almost as soon as I began to call Sorrento “home”, my family came to Sorrento for a week to visit, and brought with them all the reminders of my actual “home” back in the States. The first few days they were in Italy, I practically had culture shock. Taking day trips to the surrounding small towns with my parents and younger sister, I felt like a tourist instead of a traveler, and at first I didn’t like the feeling at all. On their fourth day in Sorrento, we went to Pompeii, and because I had been there before with my Archaeology class, I took my family down the Via Abbondanza, the “Main Street” of the ancient city, and acted as their tour guide. Finally, I felt the balance between tourist and traveler. Yes, I had been living in Italy for a few months, had a grasp on the language and had made friends with some locals. My parents hadn’t done these things; they had never been outside of the United States before, and I couldn’t fault them for being wide eyed at everything they saw and making a few mistakes in Italian. I was still just as excited as they were to be touring Pompeii, and I realized I shouldn’t punish myself for being in awe of a place that, at the end of the day, is really very new to me.
After my parents returned home, I had my spring break. A group of us split the week between London and Dublin, and I decided to not let myself get bogged down trying so hard not to be a tourist. Instead, I just went to the places I wanted to see regardless of their connotations of being “places only for the tourists”, and let myself snap as many photos and gawk all I wanted to, because I found these places new and exciting and awe-inspiring. And I knew that when I got back home to Sorrento, I could go for walks with my Italian friends and discuss where the best place to get pizza is in our small town, and not feel so much like a tourist anymore.
Samantha – Ithaca College