The second week of October I ended up staying in Italy, for the better because I was starting to feel too exhausted to function. This week I distinctly remember having my first cravings for home, and when I say cravings, I mean it. It wasn’t just missing people, it was desperately wanting someone from home to just give me a hug, or to be at dinner with my friends. I realized that even though I’m happy and excited and growing, I only really have a couple friends I really feel 100% comfortable with. That isn’t to say I don’t have friends, I’d say I’m rather well liked honestly. But I constantly feel the need to water down my strong left-wing opinions, or bite my tongue when people say problematic things. I also feel like I can only sustain surface level conversations with most people here, and if you know me at all I’m the type of person who likes talking social-politics on a regular basis. So at this point, I felt like I didn’t really belong here like I normally do at Whitman. And it was really starting to stress me out emotionally. That, plus that fact that my roommate and I had spent over a month rooming and traveling together, so (despite my love for her) I could feel my patience waning.
However that weekend, she left on her own trip, and I went on a school field trip to Siena. The trip itself was mostly good but a little rough. The good parts: it was absolutely beautiful walking through the little romantic streets that circle the main cathedral. And the art history TAs provided great synopses of the history of the pieces. The works themselves were phenomenal. Its funny because so much of this art I learned about in school, and never thought I would ever see it in person. And then here I am, casually getting a front row view at Duccio’s gold-leaf altar piece on a regular Friday afternoon. And I can’t tell you how amazing it is to see these pieces in person, and knowing how they carry so much historical weight to them. You also have such a different experience with these pieces in front of you than on a screen, they come to life rather than just look flat and awkward. Then other things that I enjoyed was seeing the Siena Duomo- which was absolutely magnificent. Literally your eye was just constantly taking in patterns and paintings and sculptures and altars. I’d just recommend looking it up- I can’t do it justice in a description.
The other good part was I made a friend on the trip- who I met by eavesdropping on a conversation she was having about the Ted Talk on poverty she was watching on the bus ride. And literally within the first ride we both felt completely at home with each other talking about politics, poverty, racism, feminism- you have no idea how liberating it felt to just speak my mind and have an intelligent conversation without worrying about alienating anyone.
Then the less good part: it was raining so hard that I got soaked through my shoes. And I got separated from my friends so I just had to wander around in the rain alone for a solid couple hours. And I got lost… But in retrospect it wasn’t even that bad, and just makes for a story later.
Then the next day, my host mum was out of town, so my host dad and sister decided to try a new recipe together for lunch and they invited me to come cook with them. So I spent my afternoon scraping dirt off of mushrooms, practicing Italian, exchanging stories and music recommendations. It was a blast! It was both my and my host sister’s first time cooking a quiche so when it turned out well we both were ecstatic. Pretty much the entire time we were just joking around or congratulating each other on how successful the meal was. And after it all I realized how lucky I was to have such a loving family take me into their home.
(Week 3 continues in the next post)