January 1, 2009
First of all, Happy New Year!! This post has been a LONG time coming... I've already been back in the states for 3 weeks! But I wanted to write something to close out this blog on my wonderful European adventure, so here it is, a wrap-up of my last week in Italy and finally returning home!
On Monday I turned in my long history paper. Not surprisingly, he didn't show up for our appointment at noon even though I waited and waited. I went to his class and, big surprise, there was no one there! Pretty desperate, I went back to his office at 4pm and thankfully he showed up saying, "Oh, did we have an appointment today?" Idiot. We ended up talking for a good hour (in English thankfully!) about random things, none of them related to my paper of course. Toward the end I tried to make it very clear that my grade should not be based on the quality of my Italian but rather the historical content of my paper. I left a little unsure but glad that I was almost done.
Tuesday, December 16th was sort of a big day... I turned 21!! While it was less meaningful in Italy, where there is no legal drinking age, I still wanted to celebrate. It was hard not being able to spend it with all my friends and family back home, and a little disappointed that I couldn't go to an American bar, but I still managed to have a good day. Way back in September, after I got out of the hospital Gabi, Justine, and Carly had given me gift certificate for a massage. I had been lazy and hadn't used it yet, so I decided to make an appointment for my birthday. On after I'd called did I realize I'd lost the gift certificate! But with the appointment already made, I decided to just pay for it myself and enjoy it. So I spent my afternoon at the spa, getting my anxiety-inducing massage and also adding a hair cut at the end. Later that evening I got semi dressed up and went out to dinner with Carly and Gabi in centro. I had almost forgot how pretty it was all lit up at night! We got a bottle of wine, and after two glasses I was already buzzed, which just goes to show how low my alcohol tolerance has dropped! After dinner we of course got gelato, though not at our favorite place : ( We didn't stay out too late since we were all pretty tired, so I went home a year older feeling much the same as before.
Wednesday was our arrivederci Padova day. I met Gabi in centro and explored the Christmas markets in all the piazze. We both realized that as often as we'd been to these places around the city, we had never taken photos or really stopped to appreciate them. So we wandered the city, stopping at Basilica di San Antonio and Prato delle Valle with Santa Giustina, buying last minute souvenirs and gifts along the way. It felt good to say goodbye to the city properly and not just pick up and go. I tried to imprint everything I could in my mind so I can remember it in the years to come. We treated ourselves to one last gelato from our favorite place, Venchi, and walked past the "Pedicure" sign above the study center one more time. After a while I had to go pick up my paper and grade for my history class. I was expecting around a 26 or 27 (out of 30), so I was shocked when he handed me the grading form with a 30!! I can't ask for better than that! Obviously I was very pleased : ) I met back up with Gabi and her tandem partner for a cappuccino and then went back to her apartment (for the first time actually!) and we cooked our traditional dinner, pasta with zucchini and mushrooms. It was so nice to eat a home cooked meal, and it seemed fitting to eat something that we always made when we were living in Rome. I had to go home early though to pack since I still had a lot to do and I was planning on leaving the next day.
I went to Lucca first and spent one last night there so I could say my goodbyes. That was one of the hardest things because I'd grown so close to them in my time there and I really don't know when, or if, I will see some of them again. What I mean is, although I know I will go back and visit in the future, I don't know when and I don't know if the older generations will still be there. I'm just so grateful to have met them and got to know them. I really do consider them family and love and miss them already.
From Lucca I hopped on the train again to Rome. Managing on the trains wasn't as bad as I thought. People kept offering to help me with my bags and I was able to sit in a seat with my luggage right next to me to keep an eye on. It was entertaining, though, to see peoples reactions when they realized that all that stuff was mine! Anyway, I finally made it to Rome, coming full circle. It felt right to leave from the city I had begun in. Carlo, who was kindly hosting me for a night and taking me to the airport, greeted me at Termini enthusiastically of course. I met his Russian girlfriend, Nastia who was very pretty and nice, too, and then he took us to an enoteca, or wine shop, where he chose a yummy red for us to share along with some munchies. I was extremely exhausted, physically and mentally, so I went home after that and went straight to bed.
The next morning, December 20th, bright and early, Carlo came to pick me up and drive me to the airport. On the way we passed the Coliseum and several churches I visited... It was really a bittersweet feeling since I was so ready to go home and see my family, but I really had fallen in love with Italy. We made it to Fiumicino Aeroporto with a little time to spare. I had to pay for my third checked bag as expected, but was delighted when I wasn't charged for my other two bags being overweight (which they totally were!). I said goodbye to Carlo, my best Italian friend, and made my way to my gate. I was too excited to really be sad; I'd been counting down to this day for so long and it had finally arrived!
The flight to Philly was long - 10 hours to be exact - time which I tried to pass by watching movies since I can't seem to sleep on planes. My itinerary had changed, too, so instead of having three flights (Rome -> Philly -> Denver -> Oakland) I was flying directly from Philly to Sacramento! My domestic flight was delayed a couple hours, but we eventually got going on another long flight - this time 6 hours. I ordered wine on the plane as my first experience being 21 in the states, and was quite disappointed when they didn't card me! The time passed slowly but I really couldn't mind since we were so close! Arriving in Sacramento and seeing my family was surreal, something I'd been picturing in my head for months. My dad had made this really cute sign saying "welcome home" and "happy 21st" and hung it on the garage door and my mom had made me a cute funfetti birthday cake!Having been back for a while now, it's been hard to readjust but also great to be back with family in a familiar environment. I'm starting to miss my life in Italy already though, and I'm looking forward to making it back there asap in the future. This experience was that of a lifetime, and I'm so grateful for it. For the rest of my life, I'll remember my 6 months in Italy, forever la dolce vita.
Thank you to whoever took the time to read this blog. This will be the final post of what I will personally cherish in the years to come as a record of my travels, challenges, and adventures.