March 6th, 2018
[Written on 3rd November 2017]
Yesterday was the one-month mark since I stepped foot in this country. My experience so far has been rewarding, to say the least. I spent the first half of this month travelling, both alone and with an amazing companion. Looking back at it now at the mid-point of this journey, I am far beyond grateful and I’m really looking forward to what lies ahead.
In less than two weeks time, I’ve uncontrollably fallen in love with this country. My heart was constantly stolen away by the warmth of Italians, I’ve been extremely blessed with the fantastic weather, and unintendedly spoilt by Italian pastries and seafood pasta. It has genuinely been a month of living in dreams that I’d never imagined coming true. And for this, I am extremely moved and thankful, for the heart that was once broken and left in pieces, is now filled and burst with contentment and happiness.
I have been blessed with the most sincere companions, a pair of eyes that never want to miss a chance to observe the beauty of its surroundings, and a camera that has gracefully captured all the moments that will be cherished deeply in my heart. There are so many reasons why Italy has given me all these chills and feelings, so many moments that touched my heart and had it bursting out with an overwhelming amount of contentment.
One thing for certain, the kindness and warmth of Italians are next level heart-warming. Strangers would come up to me, started chatting away about their lives and plans, and gave me all the tips and pieces of advice for getting around. Just this morning, I had no small notes to pay for my coffee, a lady in the line offered to pay for it and told me where I can get smaller notes (she spoke to me in Italian and I didn’t understand a thing until a friend explained to me). Yesterday, a cyclist saw me chasing after my bus and voluntarily offered to hold the bus for me whilst I ran to it. These moments also include a good chunk of time when I was treated like a celebrity by my high-school students, calling my name when I walked into their sight and expressing their love for me with the ‘I love you’ phrase I taught them in Chinese.
The Italians definitely have a very inclusive culture. There are too many times when I was in the Italian-language-only situations, where my multilingual skills come to no use at all, but they never made me feel unwelcomed. On the contrary, I’ve never felt so welcomed by groups of strangers who don’t even speak a language I understand. I attended a 2-year-old birthday party with loads of kids, parents, relatives, and there was me, a twenty-something-year-old Chinese girl who only speaks English. Yet, the grandparents came up to me, and we tried to converse in the maximum English and Italian vocabulary we know. The host saw me playing with the kids and pulled me away and introduced me to people who speak slightly better English so I don’t feel left out.
I am rich. Not materialistically rich, but rich with experiences and moments that are meaningful and memorable. I will hold these memories close to my heart, for which their stories have also become a part of mine, and how humbling it’s been to cross path with them.
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