While traveling, you learn a lot about yourself, other cultures, about your own culture, simply a lot.
You learn about eating habits, your luxuries, things that you think are luxuries, your faith, your cleanliness, your language, your safety, your temperament, your friends, your family, your goals, your purpose just to name a few.
I can’t help comparing the way I live my life in America and the way Italian’s live theirs. I try to fit in as much as possible and have changed my life drastically. These are some things I think about daily.
What I eat in Italy is nothing like I eat in the US. I try to eat healthy or organic as we call it in the states. I try to eat small portions and take my vitamins. That was all thrown out the window once I got to Italy. I usually drink an American cup of coffee or tea in the mornings and only water the rest of the day. Here they drink coffee or espresso, ALL DAY LONG. These people can drink coffee after dinner and still get a good nights rest. I am now seeing that I too can drink coffee a lot more. I eat pasta almost every single day (bad I know), but it is so good! I eat the freshest fruits and veggies imaginable. I eat fried potatoes, pizza, eggs, cheese, cheese, cheese, brodo (soup), and meat (no sliced turkey over here). I eat almost as unhealthy here as I ever have before BUT for some reason have not gained THAT much weight. I have thought about why this is for a while and the only solution I have is that everything is organic and I walk a lot. When I go back to the US I def. will be going back to my organic eating lifestyle, with pasta of course. I think I am addicted to it now. To be honest, with all these carbs I don’t feel that good. I need to change that. I will however, continue my walking. We drive everywhere in America. Our country has a lot of land and many miles between locations. You get up, go to your car, drive, get out, go to the store, and go back in your car. You go to your car to go to work, to drop your kids off, to go to the park and play, to go to a bar, to go to the dog park! That is a lot of driving! Now I do use the bus over here sometimes, but I usually use nothing but my two legs. I will try to continue that when I go home. If you need something from the store a mile away then WALK! If you are going to take your kids or dogs to the park, then WALK! It doesn’t take long and I promise all that chocolate you eat will disappear from your belly. People here are generally not as overweight as Americans. We have a big problem with not using our two legs to get us to where we need to go.
I am a girl and therefore need a lot of things to get ready in the morning. Confession- I do not get all prettied up over here. I rarely wear makeup, I rarely do my hair, and I definitely do not ever wear heels. This is probably because nobody knows me here and I have no one to dress up for, but also because I realized while traveling it weighs more in my backpack to pack that bronzer, that mascara, that specific face lotion that I can’t find anywhere. I sleep on a small bed in a small room. I have been living out of suitcase for 5 months! The only time I have hung up my clothes was to dry because there are no dryers. Now I am not complaining (sort of) but seriously whenever I feel sorry for myself over here, I just think about other countries that have it way worse than me. There are people in countries that wish they had a bed to sleep on or a simple washing machine. Americans have this idea that bigger is better. Bigger cars, bigger houses, bigger diamonds, bigger portions of food! That is not a good thing in my eyes. I am here to tell all you ladies first hand, that you do not need these luxurious items you think you do. I appreciate all the simple things that give me comfort and hope I will remember to remain grateful and ALWAYS give to others. Now I am not going to be a hypocrite and say that I can’t wait to get into my big bed, or buy new boots (I have been wearing the same two pairs EVERY SINGLE DAY), take a hot shower, or do a cartwheel in my living room just because it is big enough! The point I am trying to make is that these are not necessities, but luxuries. Just remember to be grateful for what you have and the moment you are about to buy $400 pair of shoes, just know that is what it cost me to live in Italy for over A MONTH! Go travel, open your mind, go see things that are so beautiful you can’t explain it. Go LEARN!!!!!
Learning is not just going to school, listening to a professor, taking a test, and BAM you have learned about Anatomy and Physiology. I mean yes, I’m sure you have learned about the human body, but to me learning is so much more. I miss school, I miss doing something towards my future, but the knowledge I have gained over here is momentous. I can now understand about 70% of Italian. For me, that is awesome!!! I still cannot speak it, but can get around just fine. I still make mistakes and then get nervous when someone laughs because I think I said a cuss word. BUT I can easdrop on a convo like nobody’s business.
I have learned that this country’s politics are beyond sad. There is so much corruption among their so called “leaders” with no one to trust. Instead they take 75% of their checks and use it to buy a new house in the mountains. Now I know America is not perfect, but guess what? Not one person has control of our country. Not the President (which most people think over here), not congress, no one. We have a system so no single man or woman can’t take advantage of the whole country because they have all the power. That is exactly what these people are faced with every single day.
There is no such thing as the “Italian” dream. It is difficult for people to become well off here, and wealthy… forget about it. To me, living somewhere where you know you can’t ever be something special in this world makes me sad. I will say, that with this life you realize that the simple things are what matters. If we had no competition then maybe our lives would be more peaceful and without violence? They don’t have the kind of violence we do over in America. Something to think about.
I learned that Italians are poetic thinkers. Dreamers if you will. Most of them. Somewhat like myself. I give my students an article with a question and they seriously analyze the thought process about what that person was thinking. Maybe they were in love, maybe they wanted to eat a glorious meal, maybe they wanted to take care of their children. All I wanted was simple answer! haha This can be annoying at times, but their poetic thoughts are refreshing. They LOVE their family and friends more than anything else. They love food more than the time it takes to make it. They love art, nature, wine, and shoes. I of course, let them talk to me about their history of art, love, and family with open ears, but sometimes want a simple short conversation. I want that superficial attitude we all have when we ask someone how they are doing without really caring how they are doing. This is bad, but they genuinely love hearing about what happened to you that day or every single thing you saw in Paris and HOW it made you feel. Lesson to be learned- Now I know why my friends and family are sometimes annoyed with me when I talk too much about my feelings. Now I know why my stories are too long, and that sometimes the details should only remain in my mind simply because Americans are generally not poetic thinkers.
I have learned things about myself. While I may be bossy, dramatic (at times), compassionate, clean, FUNNY, silly, smart, and much more :) I NEVER thought I would describe myself as a patient person until now. When you move to another country and have some of the craziest, rudest, and out of the ordinary experiences weekly that you learn to be patient. I tell people what I think about them if they hurt me and have a passion for people who do wrong in this world. That is just me. I know what you are thinking, “Who the hell are you to tell someone how they should live their lives.” My response would be, “You are absolutely right, and you do not have to listen to a word I am saying.” I have NO patience for rude and crude people. I am a nice person. I pick up trash on the ground if it is lying next to a garbage can, I always open the door for both men and women, I believe karma has helped me through my life, and I LOVE people! Now this country can definitely bring your spirit down in many ways. I have been challenged and I have listened. I have learned that all people are not good. This literally breaks my heart to say, but some people are selfish and mean. I have lived my life thinking that if I am nice to everyone then I will have niceness in return. That is where the patience come in. This is not always true. I have learned not to speak my mind, but to simply watch people in silence. I have been silent when men have never ONCE opened a door for me here in 6 months, I am silent when an older person feels they are more significant in this world and therefore can literally push me aside to pay for their groceries first, I have been silent when I have 5 people pushing their way onto the bus when I have been standing there 30 min longer. These are just three small examples of my growing patience. This is a work in progress, but hopefully this will continue to grow when I return home.
I hope you all had a good week. Today is my last day of teaching here and can I hear a Hallelujah! I will miss these students sooooooo much. I am not an English teacher and this subject simply bores me to tears, but so glad I did it because as I have said before… while I teach, I learn. Let’s hear it for learning!! I’m a dork. OK I will stop typing now.