Yes, the end is approaching. Rather, it is practically here. May 10th I hug my host family goodbye, send my roommate off to Southeast Asia, and board my own plane destined for Serbia and another adventure. Although I know it’s going to be a tearful goodbye leaving Italy and my family, I feel I am ready to move on. I am ready to take what I have learned here in Italy with me on my future travels, relationships, education, and jobs.
It is difficult for me to quantify what I have learned or how I have changed. I think those things will be more apparent as I return to the States. However, I do know after living with an Italian family for four months I am changed forever. I had to learn how to communicate in another language instantly. Linguistically, I started from scratch when I arrived and I am now leaving with the occasional dream in Italian. I’d say after encountering such an atmosphere I can now conquer any social situation with more ease and grace, hopefully. In my house wine and bread will always be on the table, and fruit to finish. I smile knowing that this part of me will always be different.
Things seem to always be more beautiful are more beautiful to me when seeing something for the first time, or when leaving for the last. It’s the excitement of things to be discovered when I arrive, and the adornment of what I have seen as I leave. I’ll miss the sound of my family saying from the kitchen, “Ragazze, pronto!” indicating dinner was ready. I will miss the smell of the sea always around me, and the sound of Italian drifting in from my window.
Once I return to the States, I imagine my culture shock will be more severe than when I arrived in Italy. I find that I communicate slower and more directly with my words. This was a necessity when I arrived, both when communicating in English and Italian. Now, I prefer this form of speaking much more. I am now used to small supermarkets making the “food choosing” process easier. My steps are unhurried when I walk through the streets, and meal times are 2:30 for lunch, 9:30 for dinner, and never rushed. I think my adjustments back into life in America will seem stranger than my adjustments to Italy. However, I hope to continue to walk slowly through the streets, speak as direct as possible, and to never rush a meal.
Sarah is a student at Berea College studying at Sorrento Lingue in Italy during the Spring 2014 term.