On a sunny day I left Knoxville, TN for a half year adventure abroad. The striking Appalachian Mountains that I have been around my entire life were glistening with snow as the plane took off, and I wondered how they would compare to the Alps. About 38 hours later with a missing bag, tired eyes, and a confused look on my face I was speaking broken Italian with my taxi driver as we climbed the cliffs to my hostel. My initial travels were not perfect, but I was in Italy at long last, and that’s all that mattered. During that windy drive I felt nervous and exhilarated looking at my home for the next four months. The night made everything illuminated and the lights along the cliffs welcomed me as gracefully as the black sea below it.
I stayed in a hostel for my first four nights in Sorrento, and I met many travelers who made my youthful traveler’s fire burn even brighter. Their travels foreshadowed what the next six months held for me. After my stay in the hostel was over, I strapped on my backpack and hopped the train to my host family’s address! I was greeted by my host father Filippo, and his daughter Flavia. We squeezed into the tiny elevator together with my giant backpack and stared at each other with giggles in the back of our throats and smiles on our mouths for three stories up. I was welcomed with open arms into the family and felt like I was right at home the second I put my bag down. We ate a lunch consisting of about seven courses, a new plate for each course. As I ate, I settled into the sound of Italian around me and idea of meals with a family every day quite comfortably.
Later in the day, I met my roommate Courtney. It felt as if we had known each other our entire lives. We chattered about our trips over the Atlantic, and stared out at Sorrento from our balcony sharing with each other our excitements and plans for the next couple of months. Since that first day, I have begun a life here in Sorrento. Every morning I sit down at the kitchen table and sip my coffee out of a bowl and snack on bread and orange marmalade made by my host father. I sit, taking in my surroundings wondering what the day will hold, and feeling fortunate to be in such a remarkable country and city. When I walk to school and see the Bay of Naples with Vesuvius in the horizon, and I don’t think that view will ever get old. Italy is loving me back as much as I am loving it, and the adventure has only just begun.
Sarah is a student at Berea College studying at Sant’Anna Institute during the Spring 2014 term.