A Farewell To Italia

13 Dec

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Looking around my bare apartment I can barley believe it’s already time to go, it’s seems like only yesterday that I was first arriving in the Florence airport, just beginning my experience. Time has flown by and it’s seems like I am going back to the USA all too soon, and if I am being honest I am not sure I am ready to go back home and back to reality quite yet, (sorry Mom and Dad).  But at least I enjoyed myself during the time I did have here, I’ve spent all my money, gained at least ten pounds (pasta and pizza will do it to you), I saw tons of new places, and managed to meet many great people, so it’s looks like I had a pretty successful experience!

Before coming to Italy my Dad warned me there would be times when I would feel lonely, maybe even homesick, but honestly I never worried about any of that especially because I knew his Florentine friends would be there to help me, act as my family, and take care of me….and right I was.

I’ll never forget the time I got sunburned in Italy. It was one of my first days here and I went to the beach hoping to get some color….well color I got! In hindsight maybe I should have used more sun block considering I was quite pale and hadn’t been out in the sun all summer. I came home bright tomato red, I figured it would fade into a tan and all would be well. But all didn’t go well, in fact the next day I woke up in pain (I am talking barley able to walk pain) and my face had blisters all over it (naturally I was freaking out)  I tried everything from home remedies to lotions recommended by multiple pharmacies, nothing was working though! Lucia called and examined y face daily before declaring that I absolutely had to go to the Doctors. Luckily for me Lucia works for the Florence medical department and was able to get me an appointment with the top Florentine Dermatologist. I’ll never forget how silly I felt shuffling into the small doctors office with Lucia, her daughter Camilla, and Roberta, everyone shouting out questions and putting in their two cents. Turns out I had a second degree burn, luckily though I was prescribed fast working medicine and my lovely burn, discoloration, and flaking skin was all healed in a week.

Lucia, her husband Antonio and two daughters Camilla and Costanza were a great help to me, anytime I needed anything they were willing to drop everything. They even were there to help me pick out  shampoo, and a hair dryer, and select the perfect gifts to bring when I visited peoples homes. When I had staph infection and had to see a specific doctor covered by insurance  Lucia immediately hopped on the computer to do research about the doctor before deeming him acceptable to see.

I still remember the first week I got here, Camilla, Costanza, and I would go into the center everyday, they’d show me around, point out the important things I would have to know (like the building my classes would be in, or the supermarket, or where to get the best gelato). For hours they patiently put up with me as I asked a million questions, and stopped them mid conversation several times to write down new italian words and their meanings as we walked in dizzying circles as I tried to navigate the way without their help!

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I will never forget their kindness and selflessness, it was so comforting to know I had people here whom I could depend on, who would do anything for me, just like my own family!

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Then of course there was Wanda’s family, Wanda, her husband Luca, and two daughters Irene and Francesca. Usually I would go to Wanda’s house for Sunday lunch, where I would inevitably stuff myself full with delicious food over a span of at least four hours (some lunch). Wanda is quite an excellent cook, it was at her house that I first tried rabbit, lamb, and crocodile! I always look forward to going to Wanda’s house, she is an excellent host and is always eager to hear about my life!

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Over these last few months I have especially become quite close with Irene, she is like my personal Florence guide book, anytime I have a question about where I should buy something, a good restaurant to try, a relaxed bar to go to, or a top discotecca for a night of dancing she replies back with tons of excellent suggestions. I’ve enjoyed spending time with her and getting to know her better. Hopefully Irene will be coming to America in August, I am looking forward to the opportunity to show her around like she has done for me here in Italy, I’ve even been teaching her a bit of slang in preparation for her trip!

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Then of course there is Roberta, my Italian mother here in Italy and the one person I probably talk to at least once a day! She’s continually been there to help me sort through any problems I may have (and if you have been reading my blog you know I am quite problem prone), she makes me delicious dinners at least once a week (which also means left overs), she helps me study for my Italian tests, and just like my real mother she likes to interfere in my life by constantly keeping tabs on me and putting in her two cents!

But in all seriousness Roberta has gone above and beyond for me, there are no words that can even possibly describe how truly thankful I am for all she has done.

I’ll never forget the first day I arrived here in Florence, Roberta had taken the day off to personally pick me up from the airport, It was unusually hot when I arrived in Florence but despite the heat and lack of air conditioning she made me a delicious lunch in her tiny hot kitchen, then she took me grocery shopping so we could stock the house with my favorite foods (which she continues to buy for me whenever I come over). Than she took me to various stores to find a straighter. As she knew I was quite concerned about not having a straighter (you’d be too if your hair decided to poof in the heat), I debated between several straighteners, all with different components, priced differently, and consequently at different stores, but Roberta didn’t mind we even made two trips back and forth between the stores so I could compare.

That’s just the kind of person she is, a made to be mother, shes patient, giving, and nurturing and I couldn’t think of a better person to have the pleasure of knowing.

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Coming to Italy I always thought of these people as my Dad’s friends but throughout my four months getting to know them, bonding with them, and forming my own relationships with them I am leaving knowing that they are also now my friends.

Of course there’s also My cousin Aldo and Magda in Como, and although I don’t get to see them too often because of the distance I sure do talk to them quite a bit! I frequently am receiving texts and call from Aldo who is usually just “checking in” and making sure all is ok! It’s comforting to know I have people there who are generally are concerned with my well being, plus I know if I ever needed anything they’d be there for me in a heartbeat!

Having my Dad’s connections here has truly made for a great experience but I also wanted to make some connections of my own.

I met Sonia through a conversation exchange program sponsored by my school, where students who wish to improve their language skills can meet with locals to practice.The requirements of the program were that conversation exchange partners were required to meet once a week for an hour.

I immediately liked Sonia from the moment I met her, she had a huge smile on her face and was easy to talk to, we also bonded over our love of food and spent a great deal of time having food related conversations.

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After our first meeting Sonia invited me to her home, where she then invited me to stay for dinner with her and her lovely family, including her husband, Francesco, son David, and daughter Sara. Dinner at Sonia’s soon became a weekly activity, every time Sonia would prepare an elaborate meal for me complete with a delicious, traditional italian dessert, and in exchange I would bring a typical American dessert like chocolate chip oatmeal cookies, a favorite amongst her and her family!

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I met Yang, a Chinese girl studying here in Italy at the University of Florence and Michela, a local Florentine also through a program sponsored by my school where the school pairs college students learning italian together with students learning English! Usually we meet once a week for coffee, we talk about the differences between our different cultures and the similarities and in general do quite a bit of laughing!

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Then there’s my two American roommates Taylor and Kate. I have to say I am quite lucky to have these two girls as roommates especially after hearing some of the my friends roommate horror stories. Sometimes there’s nothing better than being able to come home, sit on the couch and relax, while talking to someone else about your day! We also have quite a bit of fun during experimental baking nights, where we decided to use up all edible ingredients in our apartment and use our small toaster oven that smokes to bake, needless to say there’s quite a bit of laughing that goes on.  Our most recent experiment was frutti di bosco oatmeal cookies…not too bad!

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Then of course there is Emery and Sarah my travel partners, fellow foodies, and two best friends!

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Not a day goes by where I don’t reach for the phone to call Sarah or Emery, I love having girls like them to share my stories with, to have adventures with, and to laugh with! I am going to miss them so much when they are no longer a quick five minute walk away from me, but I know that wherever we are we will make time to see each other and resume our tradition of traveling together!

So over these past months you’ve heard me talk about how much I have enjoyed my experience here in Italy, but surely without the people here to share my experiences with I can assure you it wouldn’t have been quite the same experience. So due to the distance seeing each other may be difficult, but during my time here I have managed to form valuable relationships with amazing people, i’ve learned so much from them, and enjoyed every minute of it, and this will forever ba time in my life which I will always cherish and remember fondly.

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