Happily Lost In Any Light

Traditions, history dates, stories, new tastes, new smells, sounds, words, phrases, feelings, memoirs, happiness, sadness, nostalgia, the joy of going home, the fear of going home, are all the things that I experience every single day while living abroad. The adventure I’m living is taking me places I’ve never been to, neither mentally, nor physically.  With only three months left in this beautiful country there is an abundance of thoughts and feelings racing through my mind.

On occasion I look behind at the person I was when I stepped off that plane, five months ago, in a completely new environment, on the crisp morning of the 31st of August and notice all that has changed. I was scared, oblivious to what would come next, afraid of the unknown, and nervous. When I take the time to analyze who I am now, I see someone who has grown immensely, and continues to make countless new discoveries about herself everyday.

I’ve recognized that I no longer need to keep my guard up for what lays ahead of me or behind me. As long as I remember to take a deep breath when confronted with difficulties, keep true to who I am, and set my mind to what I aspire to do, I can and will achieve it. I’ve discovered that the fact of the matter is: I wanted fresh air, a new surrounding, and I attained it all because I ventured outside my comfort zone and took a leap.

This whole Italy gig has done a great amount to my psyche. It’s allowed me to pinpoint my true persona, toss out the clutter I carried which invaded my mind and untie everything that dragged behind me. The new acquired space allows me to trust, gain, and learn in greater quantities.

I feel lighter like there is nothing I can’t do, I can get lost in any light and still sense happiness and peace. Having had a stressful sophomore year due to personal issues at home, this year is acts as a retreat and cleanse.

This year serves for me to let go, enjoy and find myself through learning, new friends and new experiences. I’ve learned from being in Italy that it is completely okay to break down and show what you are feeling. It’s normal and only human to crack and carry a sad face rather than a constant happy one. I’ve learned to allow myself these days. My psyche grows everyday with every single moment.

Although one small thing haunts me as time goes by, how will my psyche change when I return to America? How will I react to the immediate switch? There is a large chance that the quick alteration of setting will disrupt my new psyche I’ve reached while living here. I’ll be forced to face reality and go on with life without the coliseum practically in my backyard. It’s a scary thought but in the end, I will adjust and trudge on with the fond memories of the best nine months of my life.

(Taken and slightly altered from an english essay I was assigned in my english class)

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The Apocalypse Is Upon Me (In the Italians eyes)

One of the things that I’ve learned about Italians is that they are utterly terrified of bad weather. No matter how minimal it is, it’s the end of the world.

Every single time it is even slightly grey or cloudy outside, my host mother makes sure I am completely bundled in impermeable clothing before leaving the house. Rain jacket, rain boots, and without question an umbrella must be on me at all times.

This morning has been the biggest example of this Italian behavior I have ever seen in my entire life. As I woke up this morning and went down stairs  it was noticed that it was snowing.  I got so excited, my first time in snow this whole winter. The snow barely covered an inch on the ground, but still, it was snow!

My normal routine carried on, walked out the door at 7:25 to catch the bus, got on the bus around 7:35. As soon as getting on the bus I noticed that less than half the people that normally are on it, weren’t. Two minutes into our commute to town the bus slows down and slides slightly while going down a hill. As soon as it began to slide, every single italian in the bus lets out a death shriek. After five minutes of being stopped we are notified that there was an accident up ahead. In my head I’m saying to myself “Seriously? there isn’t even half an inch of snow on the roads!” But sure enough there was actually a car that had driven off the road into a ditch.

I immediately called our Direttore of school to notify him that we’d surely be late arriving to school today.  When he answered, before even giving me a chance to speak all I heard on the other line is: “NON C’E SCUOLA, NON C’E SCUOLA, NON C’E SCUOLA,”(if you didn’t catch on that means “there is no school”). My classmates that I share the bus with quickly got off the bus and walked home.

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OVS you’ll be with me wherever I go

You never really realize how big of an impact a place has on you until you leave that place.

OVS has stuck with me ever since I left. I first realized it the first day I got to Italy and read our host family booklet, which said that 95% of the students coming here had never had to make their own bed before. And I sat there saying to myself “YES! Thank you, OVS!”

To give you more insight I’ll make a list of the things that OVS has taught me and have stuck with me even though I’m across the atlantic in a completely new culture.

I eat milk and crackers all the time and have gotten my host family into it too!

During our orientation retreat to the sea I was able to keep everyone interested with cool fun facts that I learned from Ms. Davis.

I still do my homework during what would be study hall hour.

I think I’ve formed permanent calf muscles from climbing up the hill therefore the hills in Viterbo are a piece of cake!

I managed to tack up my horse within ten minutes at the barn I’m riding at here. Thanks to Ms. Gustafson and Ms. Wilson always rushing me to get in the arena!

We’re reading BEloved by Toni Morrison in my English class which requires intense annotating to understand and I can’t thank Mr. Weidlich enough for the endless annotating you made us do.

And more than anything, I have a nice reminder of you everywhere I go, due to this awesome Italian clothing store that happens to be called OVS.

I miss you all dearly ❤ I’m excited to eventually be back with you all on the beautiful campus of the Ojai Valley School.

Roma!

Like I promised, here is my post about my first adventure into Roma. I apologize for the delay.

A group of eight friends and I hoped on the fist train on a saturday morning to Roma from Viterbo at about seven in the morning. Of course like anyone of my age, getting up at seven on a saturday is not ideal, therefore I was incredibly sleepy and not in the peppiest of spirits about sitting on a train for two hours.

But as soon I began to enter the outskirts of Rome, everything was so beautiful I immediately woke up and was possibly more excited than everyone else. We got of the train and took the metro to “piazza del colosseo.” Literally right in front of you when you walk up the stairs exiting the metro is the colosseum. BAM right there! It was incredible.

Of course my friends and I had to stand there just in awe, taking touristy pictures, and buying postcards for half an hour. After that we proceeded to tour the colosseum from the outside. It’s rather time and money consuming to get the inside tour, so we figured to save that for another day.

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After school expeditions

I hadn’t planned on blogging again until after my Rome experience but I must share to you all about my day today.

First, after school I walked through downtown and got delicious Gelato. A cono piccolo with menta and nutella. If you haven’t assumed already, I’ll let you know that it was freaking delicious! So to start that put me in an excellent mood for the evening. After I finished my delectable gelato my host dad picked me up to go home, or so I thought…

We were heading up to the mountains behind our neighborhood. I asked my host dad what we were doing and he explained to me that we were going to see my Nonno’s(grandpa’s) farm. We arrived to the farm and greeted Nonno.

He then took me into the bottom floor of the farm house where I found his small winery! I always knew that my family made their own wine but I never knew how or where. Turns out that they do it five minutes away from home. Nonno explained to me the whole process of the wine making which is quite simple.

First all the harvested grapes are put into a big grinder and all the mushed grapes go into a wooden barrel. When the barrel is full there is a lid that with a crank pushes all the juice out of the barrel into a bucket. All the juice that goes into the bucket is put into bottles for a long time to ferment and become wine. I tried some of the grape juice before it’s fermented into wine and it’s absolutely delicious! Naturally very sweet and refreshing.

After viewing the wine process we walked through the farm to pick grapes and tomatoes. Which are all organic without pesticides or anything of the sort. The grapes are so yummy to snack on. Read More »

Exploring Outside the Walls of Viterbo

The past three days I spent on a school orientation trip outside of Viterbo. The fact that anywhere I go in this country is absolutely beautiful like no other is still so surreal and overwhelming to me. I don’t think we came upon any ugly place, not even while driving through the more industrial cities! Everything is just incredible no matter where you are.

All 68 students plus faculty loaded up onto our huge double decker bus Thursday morning and took off to our first stop, south of Viterbo, a city called Sermonetta.

It is a medieval city just like Viterbo but much smaller. The name Sermonetta contains “monetta” which can be translated to coin, and it is said that money was coined there. Also during the Dark Ages it was a used as a fortress for the Pope.

Steps up to the Castle of Sermonetta

Our next stop was at the Gardens of Ninfa. The Gardens are located on the ruins of the old city of Ninfa. But the city was brought to an end, by whats called the Papal civil war of the 14th century. Ninfa was brought to its original glory in the 20th century by the Italian Republic named as a Natural Monument in 2002.

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Viva Santa Rosa!

So, as promised, here I am writing about the infamous annual Santa Rosa festival in Viterbo. I will start with a little bit of background history. Santa Rosa (Saint Rose) became a Saint circa the 17th century in Viterbo. She was born with a condition that is now called Pectus excavatum. It is a deformity where, either you are born or develop during puberty, several abnormal ribs and sternum. Normally back when Santa Rosa was alive it was known that children born with this condition only lived two or three years.

Part of Santa Rosa’s sainthood came from the fact that she lived until she was 18 years old with this condition, therefore named a saint. Also during her time, it was illegal and not accepted to associate with or give to the poor but Santa Rosa secretly helped the poor by feeding them, giving them clothing etc.

One day as she was carrying a sack of bread to the poor, the police stopped her to question her about the bread she had and to eventually arrest her for her illegal association with the poor.

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