Everyone told me that coming home from four months abroad would be hard. Just wait. People aren’t going to understand, they get impatient with your stories, everything will feel weird, you have to repress the last few months to adapt. Blah Blah Blah. Here’s the truth, at least for me: saying goodbye to Rome was hard, but thankfully, coming home was not hard. At all. I’m really happy to be home and inserting my new self back into my old life. Sure, my family isn’t enthused about every story–the really old churches or how quickly I got sick of Italian food (cry me a river)–but they already knew some of my stories through my blogging. It feels cool when they mention things that I almost forgot about but they remember because I put it on the blog. :)
Of course, the best part about being at home is that Chris and Lizzie are REUNITED! …And planning a wedding, which isn’t as easy as previously expected.
As for the reverse culture shock, I am experiencing this on a tiny but amusing scale. It’s a little trippy to feel like a foreigner in your hometown, even if it’s just for a split second. I’ll list off some of the most noticeable differences.
1. Gelato cravings. I am constantly waiting for my next gelato. In fact, I’m still pining after the pistachio gelato that I left in the freezer at Bernardi. Plus, I came home with enough extra euros for two more gelatos. Amateur! Maybe this is all for the best. My gelato eating was becoming slightly out of control, even I will admit; “But this is once in a lifetime” “I can stop anytime.” Is this what withdrawal feels like?
2. The American accent is music to my ears. When we landed in New York, and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. So beautiful. The flight attendant said, “Weeeelcome to New Yooork.” I made it hooome!
3. Everything here is super orderly compared to anything in Italy. Not that “orderly” means less confusing, as we learned in the JFK airport. However, it does mean that in church there won’t be a mad dash for everyone to get communion at once. Waiting in lines isn’t like waiting in a giant mob. The bus driver won’t stop to smoke for ten minutes. Not anymore.
4. The few Italian words that I know just keep coming out. I wasn’t very good at Italian, but I did develop some reflex words. “Ciao” when I walk in a store. “Scusi” when I bump into someone. “Gratzie” when I get my order. Now when I say it, I seem like I’m just trying to be overly cultural and exotic. Look at me! I can say three words!
5. I ignore people because my first instinct tells me that they speak a different language. Sorry! Not trying to be rude! Sometimes in Italy I couldn’t understand people even when the were speaking English. I just tried to avoid all interactions.
6. Nobody understands my inside jokes anymore. Hence the fact that they are inside…a different continent. *Sigh.
7. Everything feels super close. In Rome, I used to walk 45 minutes to school, sometimes for only a few hours before turning around and walking right back. That was normal! In the convenience of Minneapolis, a 20 minute drive seems like a long way. Not to mention the traffic is NOTHING compared to Rome. My commute to work is a piece of cake.
8. I have developed car sickness from not being in a car for 4 months in Italy then suddenly having to drive everywhere in Minnesota…or at least this is my theory. I don’t see any other logical explanation.
9. I always feel like I about to get in trouble. In Rome, I was used to getting kicked off the steps of the library when trying to read a book, kicked out of churches (still not sure why), told I wasn’t allowed to bring nutella on the bus, scolded for being too loud, or otherwise chastised for just being a normal human being. Whatever I was doing, I could count on an Italian person coming up to me and saying, “Not possible,” and that settled that. I was shocked the first time I went to a coffee shop in Minneapolis, and nobody told me in broken English that I wasn’t allowed to sit in a chair. Possible. ;)
10. And, of course, it’s hard to adjust to not seeing this view from the terrace every night.