Ciao a tutti,
I can’t believe that I’m actually writing this post. I know, I’ve broken all of the blogger rules and just went AWOL for a little over a month. My life got more busy than I imagined that it ever could since being home, so I didn’t even have time to think about this post. However, it’s something that I feel is important to write. As much as I’ve been avoiding it because it means facing the truth that I’m home, I think it’s important for past, current, and future travelers to read. I thought that I would somehow be immune to culture shock and troubles readjusting, but I’m finally experiencing how difficult it really is.
I thought that I wouldn’t experience the challenges of culture shock and readjustment because I’m generally good at handling change. I consider myself easygoing and calm, and I don’t ever have too much trouble tackling change. I’m thankful that Greenheart made me aware of these common feelings before even going to Sicily because it has made me feel slightly less awkward. The best way to describe how I feel right now is awkward. I have changed, but the people and places at home have not, and I knew this would happen. I met people in Italy who had their children to this experience in America, and they told me that the worst part is watching their child ache for a place that they are not. That is exactly what’s happening to me. I realized how European I am in my mindset, style, and attitudes. I miss home cooking, small batch production of everything, and the Italian greetings. I miss everything. I just feel awkward in my own life now.
All I can do to make myself feel better right now is to look at pictures and stay in touch with people. I’m so lucky to have made so many friends, and have a host family that feels like real family. I can feel their love from the other side of the world, and I smile just looking at the pictures. I also must say thank you to everyone who has listened to me ramble endlessly about my trip, and deal with my saltiness about the major mistakes Americans make with Italian cooking and culture. I’m sure I have annoyed many people, but quite frankly I don’t care. Thank you for at least listening to me (and seeming interested even if you aren’t).
Now that I’ve had time to process my experiences and thoughts, I realized how much I gained and grew from this experience. I think that the BEST change that I’ve experienced in myself is a new trust in the universe. I have come to fully realize that the universe has a plan for us, and everything will work out in time. When I reflect upon this entire experience, starting from the moment that I began researching, I had so many hurdles to overcome. However, I persevered and this experience was simply meant to be. It has made me a much more calm and relaxed person. I have never been a person to be upset over small things, but this new trust in the natural course of life has even lessened that. It makes it difficult to relate to other people at times, though. I may come off as uninterested or uncaring, but my personal mindset tells me to not worry. I do always worry about others and care about their problems, but I know that simply telling them how I feel will not change it. I am so thankful for this newfound belief in the meaning of life, especially at this time in my life.
I have learned to never doubt my gut. After making it across the world and back twice alone, navigating horribly stressful situations, and adjusting to a new life without a single soul to help me… I know that my gut is right. When I traveled to Roma and Firenze, I chose my destinations based on what my gut told me was best. I was right every time. When I wasn’t sure of what word to use when speaking in Italian with someone, I listened to what my mind and gut told me to use. I used to doubt my head, heart, and gut so much. Now I know that I have a strong intuition.
I rediscovered my passion for living a holistic life. I was extremely burnt out before going to Sicily. I strayed from my normal habits of eating natural, putting only good things into my body, and taking care of myself. I appreciate home cooking SO much more after going to Sicily… I prefer it to eating out, now. I care so much more about where my food comes from. I appreciate natural beauty so much more. Taking care of yourself, your skin, your insides… it impacts your overall well-being so much. The Italians are so beautiful because they care about not only their appearances, but what they put into their bodies and their overall happiness. It’s a package deal.
I LOVE that I learned to appreciate the outdoors so much more. I lacked an appreciation for it before going to Sicily (granted, I live in Pittsburgh), but it is something that I always wanted to enjoy more. I learned to love the sun, spend as much time outside as possible, and get dirty. Spending my days at the beach definitely helped in growing my appreciation, but I generally just ache to be outside now. I felt my absolute best while in Sicily, and I think so much of that had to do with how much time that I spent outside.
The only negative aspect of my trip to Sicily (and I can barely count this as negative) is my overwhelming desire to travel and eventually work abroad. It added another layer of confusion about what my path should be in life, but I’m so blessed to have a network of people that would help me if I choose to move to Italy. It’s a serious consideration of mine now, so I have a lot to think about!
Needless to say, I miss Sicily so incredibly much everyday. It is everything that I think about. I miss my host family so much. They were so good to me. Sofia made me smile so much, and I miss her playing with my hair. I miss the crazy adventures that Elena and I would have. I miss jamming to music and trying new wine with Francesco. I miss everything! I miss my friends, the children I met at the beach, Sofia’s friends, the local people who would stare at me for speaking English… everything. I dream of my nights in Ragusa Ibla, and my days in Marina di Ragusa. It’s difficult to feel the same fire that I did for life before when my soul is not here. My soul and happiness is in Ragusa. I’m trying to figure out how to split it in half, and at least have some of it with me in Pittsburgh. For now, I’ll continue to daydream of Ragusa to get me through my days.