After last week’s informational meeting, I was fairly certain that my weekend trip to the Veneto region would be more structured and supervised than my high school trip through Italy. And not in a good way. As we walked out of the John Cabot cafeteria, Cate, Kathryn, Kelly, Danielle, and I made a pact. We agreed that we wouldn’t complain about the 10:30 p.m. curfew, the seven-hour bus ride, or the 7:00 a.m. breakfast time. Period.
Despite all of these restrictions, we realized that the trip provided us with a great opportunity to see three cities in three days. Also, the weekend trip was a bargain – our 150-euro fee covered transportation, accommodations, two breakfasts, two dinners, and guided tours in the three cities. No whining allowed. Continue reading
I’m coming to realize that most of the Italians I encounter probably think I’m a crazy person. I find that I am constantly muttering to myself and slurring words under my breath when I walk around. On the way to class, in the markets, outside of restaurants – my lips are always moving. The Italian language is beautiful and passionate to hear, but it is all the better to speak it. I read street signs and menus, headlines and shopping bags, carefully enunciating to myself.
Everything is different in a foreign country. Italy, so it seems, has got a few things backwards. Tasks that are simple at home are significantly more complicated here, and errands that would be completely unfeasible for me in the US are una paccia di torta. Continue reading
About six months ago, I was well in to my second week in India. I wrote this post. Here’s an excerpt:
Like I said earlier, today’s been a little rough. I miss home. I broke out the emergency bag of Craisins–how sad is it that my comfort food here is dried fruit? I also realized today that the Rainbow girls intimidate me. They’re just kids, but I have a really difficult time being around them for too long. It’s emotionally exhausting. I keep thinking about how so many of them have experienced so many horrible things, and I just feel guilty and privileged. I mean, these little girls lived on the streets, worked as child domestics, and were trafficked as sex slaves and child prostitutes. I don’t know how to confront and reconcile those bad things, and I’m not even the victim.
I talked with the other ND girls about this, and Colleen said something really great. It’s neither practical nor helpful for any of the parties involved to try to compare lives. She also said that in any time of change, there is a period of panic and crisis that comes when we try to incorporate new experiences in to the way we live. Accounting for that adjustment is difficult. I have never dealt with change well, and this is a lot of change and a very different way of living. I came on this trip to push myself and broaden my horizons and all that, but I am realizing that I need to be gentle with myself now that I’m actually here, living life in India for a little while. I need to be patient and to realize that this adjustment will take time. I’ve only just gotten over my jetlag after 8 or 9 nights in Kolkata.
Today starts my third week in Rome, and I know one thing for sure: Italy ain’t India. Continue reading
Three years ago, I toured Italy for my senior class trip. We visited Rome, Assisi, Florence, Padua, Pisa, and Venice. At the time, I didn’t like Rome much. I appreciated the history of the city, but it was too big, too crowded, too urban. It probably didn’t help that we were in Rome for Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday. As a high school senior, I loved Florence. It felt livable and manageable compared to Rome. Florence seemed more familiar to my suburban frame of reference than cosmopolitan Rome.
This weekend, I traveled to Florence with seventeen other Notre Dame students. As we walked into the train station, I turned to a friend and said, “This big group could either be really wonderful or really terrible.” Fortunately, things worked out well. Once we arrived and split up into smaller groups, everyone managed to visit the things that they wanted to see. And we didn’t lose anyone either!
I’m headed to Florence for the weekend, and I can’t get over how weird it sounds to say that I’m headed to Florence for the weekend. Trip report coming soon.
Monday's lunch. The orange stuff is pumpkin.
We have good days and we have bad days. In strange or unfamiliar places, the days can seem especially good or particularly bad. I learned this in India this summer, and I’m sure it will be true for my time in Italy.
Today was a good day. A really good day. Today was the kind of day I’ll think of when I have a rough day to make myself remember that things will get better. Continue reading