November 16, 2008

It’s hard to believe that so much time has gone by since I’ve last written. Now that Florence is becoming more and more my own, the difference between September and now for me is uncanny. Every Sunday, when my parents and I have our official phone call to say our true hellos–not a rushed phone call during the week to save our pennies or an e-mail update during the day — I always feel like I should be telling them how much I miss America and how much I can’t wait to come home until Christmas. And although living in Italy has shown me an entirely different culture and made me appreciate so many of the things of America, I can’t ignore the fact that the reason why I came to Italy was to be immersed in a different culture. If I wanted to find America in Italy, I wouldn't be here. However, at the same time, it’s going to be wonderful to go home and see my family for the holidays. In my opinion, I definitely could have stayed in Italy and traveled for the holidays with my friends who are staying here, or with my family, for that matter.

After being in Italy since August, I feel like I can look back on the way that I’ve grown with the language since I’ve been here. This past weekend, I went back to Foligno in Umbria, where my family lives. I was so excited because not only was I going to see my cousin Marta and her parents, Caterina and Vasco, but Marta’s sister, Lisa, and her husband, Stefano, were also planning on journeying down from Rovereto in the North of Italy to spend the weekend with us. We hadn’t all been together since I went to visit the second weekend of September for Foligno’s annual festival that celebrates the different neighborhoods or “rioni.” However, plans changed at the last minute and Lisa and Stefano were not able to come anymore because Lisa had a sudden appointment on Saturday to student teach as part of her teaching courses. I still decided to go, and it probably was the best thing for me to keep up my spirits and my perseverance with Italian. Every now and then, I have to admit that the frustration and fear of not improving my Italian comes over me. But then, there’s always moments or things like this past weekend that keep pushing me along. As soon as I got to their house, I felt so wonderful to be with my family that I just relaxed when I spoke, and by the end of our first “cena” on Friday night, not only were the words flowing from my mouth, but I even was using the Italian gestures. I didn’t even realize it until Vasco commented on how Italian I looked. I can’t even begin to express how pumped I was…and still am, obviously! Later, Marta and I were talking about things to do in Florence because she studied architecture there for three years, and we got on the subject of movies. She suggested we go to a late movie in Italian, and even though I had my doubts, I thought, what the heck? The worst that could happen is that I would only be able to appreciate the picture. We went to see Changeling, the new movie about post-World War II with Angelina Jolie and her lost child. When I got into the movie, at first I could feel myself concentrating, but as the movie went on, I forgot that I was even listening to it in a different language. Walking out of that movie felt more of an accomplishment for me than all the Italian language class I have in a day. Now, trust me, it wasn’t always like this. I’ve had some pretty funny and odd moments in my learning of the language. To this day, I still confuse words and accidentally say another word when I mean something completely different…but for me, it’s all part of the experience. One of my first “moments” was the first time I spoke with Irene on the telephone. In front of all of my cousins, I was trying to explain to her that I loved eating everything that I had just eaten for lunch. But instead saying everything (“tutto”), I said, everyone (“tutti”). I don’t think she knew how to respond to hear that I loved eating people. Another one of my favorites is how I was explaining to my conversation teacher during September how people on the bus always laugh at me like I’m such a foreigner when I try to get off the bus. And my teacher asked me what I was saying to politely make my way to the door. I informed her that I was saying “promesso” (I promise) instead of “permesso” (Excuse me), thinking that obviously they were chuckling to themselves about my American-ness. No wonder people laughed at me. I might as well have had my hand up in the air in traditional girl scout style to complete my mistake! Knowing that I can go from these embarrassing moments to listening to a movie completely in Italian helps me to really see my improvement here. This week will probably be the most relaxing week I've had in a while here in Florence since for the most part, there is nothing too major going on except for my studies and the visit of a couple of the Strasburg girls in France, although there's nothing like being able to show the city off to people!

Tonight, we have one of our cultural events with Laura, our young, hip cultural director for a dinner and a night “spettacolo” or show in the downtown area. As always, I'm excited because whenever we go to these events, they are always phenomenal. We just found out a couple of weeks ago that our university director here, Elisa Camporeale, arranged for our visit to one of the most exclusive museum exhibits in all of Florence, the Vasari Corridor. Every year, there's an official announcement to the Florence community about when this corridor will actually open. During the time of the Medici, it was a passageway for the family that ran from the famous Palazzo Pitti all the way to the Palazzo Vecchio in Piazza Signoria, one of my favorite piazzas in all of Florence. Needless to say, I'm completely ecstatic! I'll be in touch soon…a presto Holy Cross!

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