Saturday, June 26, 2010

Home sweet home

I made it back to the good ol' U S of A on Thursday after a marathon day of travel.  I started the day at Rome's airport amidst American tourists who were anxious to get home and unexperienced with life in Italy. What makes me say this? Well...we were all awaiting the boarding of our flight and above our gate the airline and flight number listed was an El Al flight to Tel Aviv, but it was really our United flight that was boarding from that gate. Yes, it was confusing, but it was so typically Italian. They didn't change the info, they just went ahead and boarded the flight. Those standing around me complained about how disorganized the airport and airline this would never happen at home. I couldn't help chuckle. Yep. This is the way things are over here...this is how they do things. You just have to be ok with it and go with the flow. If not, prepare to be frustrated all of the time. ;0

The flight leaving Rome was an hour late thanks to France's air traffic controller strike so I had to run for all I am worth from customs to my gate to for my flight to Phoenix. (Of course it was at the very last gate!) I just made my flight and then had the pleasure of waiting on the runway for an hour as they rerouted flights because of a storm.

Finally, I made it to Phoenix and was greeted by one of the greatest sights: the Egglets (Lees, Matty Moo, Addie Mae, and Noah), the Suarez family, and Gabe. Awww! What a great welcome home! My sister and brother in law picked me up and we met my cousin for dinner. I finally crashed after dinner.

I'm still exhausted, but it's not as bad as when I head out there. So glad to be home!!! Thank you Lord!
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Friday, June 18, 2010

Cinque giorni, ventitre ori, e cinquanta minuti

Woo hoo! In cinque giorni vado a casa mia negli Stati Uniti! (Translation: Woo hoo! In 5 days I go to my house in the United States!)
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Being "Rick Steves"

Living in a city like Rome affords me with lots of amazing things to enjoy: the Colosseum, the Pantheon, gelato, pizza...and lots of visitors!

When I told people that I was moving to Rome a common response was "I'm so going to visit!" Ok. Sure. I would love for you to visit me...but I knew that travel to and from Rome is expensive so I didn't really put much stock into people's exclamations. Well, I was wrong. (Happily wrong!) In the last month or so I've had a constant flow of visitors. Friends from home have traveled across the ocean to see me...ok. I'm not completely naive. I know that for the most part they're coming to stay with me for free in an incredible city...but still...they're also coming to see me.

It's been such fun showing my friends Rome and introducing them to my life here. We've been to the Colosseum, Pantheon, Piazza di Spagna, Fontana di Trevi, Campo di Fiori, Piazza Navona, San Marino Pizza, Gel'Istria, the corner bar, Cinque Terre, and more. I've been playing out my own version of Rick Steves! I love introducing people to the sites and places that I've come to love and appreciate. Again, it overwhelms me to see these places with them because it's as if seeing them for the first time all over again. Amazing!!!

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Blast from the past

I lived in Italy during the summer when I was 16... in 1993. Wow, that seems like it was a hundred years ago!  I had the most incredible time and was changed because of it.

I went to Italy with the Lion's Club as part of their youth exchange program. The goal of the program was to allow youth from around the world to live in and experience another culture as well as meet other people their own age in order to start communication and international relationships. I was blessed in that my parents could afford the airfare to send me, all the program cost was the airfare. I chose Italy because I was fascinated by it and because my older cousin had just returned from a year as an exchange student outside of Venice. I was excited and terrified all at the same time. I remember crying for hours the night before because I was so scared to travel internationally by myself and to a country where I didn't speak a word of their language. My mom told me I could stay home if I needed or wanted to, but I knew I had to was something that I had to do. (Hmm....could it be that God was working in my life before I knew Him? :) )

The plan was that I was to meet up with another girl from Tucson at the airport in Germany (or at least I think that's where we were supposed to meet) and we would continue on to Venice together to meet our host family. Imagine my scared 16-year-old-self when she didn't show and to top it off when I got to Venice my host family didn't know that I was coming as well! Talk about freaked out! I managed to hold in the tears until I was alone. Oh, and did I mention that the airline lost my luggage? Benvenuto a Italia! (Not much changes...)

Anyways, Catherine, the other girl from Tucson, eventually arrived as did my luggage and what ensued was arguably one of the best summers of my life. I spent time outside of Venice in Mestre with an incredibly loving and welcoming family. Their daughters showed us Venice and took us out with their friends.

From there, we went on to camp with other exchange students from all over the world outside of Trieste. It was a great time meeting other people our age from all over the world...I remember Abbie from England, Tim from Germany, Yael from Israel, Uri from then-Yugoslavia, and Tomas from Hungary. (He holds a 'special' place in my heart!)

Finally we landed outside of Udine at another family's home. They had two boys, Antonio and Paolo. Ahhh...they were an incredible family. They took us exploring in the mountains and in the tiny towns that surrounded their home, cooked us delicious pizza in their backyard brick oven, pushed me in the pool, took us on their beach holiday, and so much more.

I left Italy that summer completely and utterly in love with Italy and its people. That summer was a catalyst for the life I am now living.

I have been to Venice twice now since moving to Rome and each time I am there I wonder if I might bump into a member of one of my host families. Would I recognize them? Would they recognize me? So, I decided that I wanted to look them up and get in touch with them. Perhaps I could meet up with them the next time I am in the area....except I can't remember their last names! I know I have the information at home somewhere, but I couldn't find it the last time I was home and besides, I want to know now!! (Delayed gratification and I aren't friends.)

What's a girl to do? Facebook! That's always the answer! I was able to track down Catherine on FB and ask her if she remembered the names of our host families, but she didn't....I mean it has been 17, gulp, years. I am now more determined than ever to reconnect with them and to thank them for how they helped to shape my life. I can't wait to write to them, in Italian, and tell them that I am now living here.

Come divertimento!
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