I could not sleep on the plane from New York to Milan. Partly because of nerves, and partly because of the armrest hogging, leg sprawling, talkative (yet somehow sweet) Italian man next to me. What does the word praise mean? He would say, pointing to his American newspaper. What about this word- ridicule? What's arsenal? Are you going to eat the rest of your snack? Hell yes boy those are my pretzels- i wanted to respond. But no...Have them, please. I insist. I said, biting my bottom lip. Ten hours later I was in Milan. Tottering my snowboard on top my two suitcases all balancing on a rolling cart with a broken wheel, I was running into things and causing ruckus. Immediately awkward, I was.
Something I've learned- the first few days living in a new country will always be a blur. It was the same in Paris. Wandering around trying to understand how and why I was going to live in this ridiculously expensive, perfectly paved city was beyond my thinking. Culture shock is real. And it fogged my brain with fear and worry, so much that when my sister left me there (in a janky group hostel before my apartment was ready, I should add) I was so disoriented all I could physically do was sit in a movie theater for seven hours, watching back to back features of One Day (hope the book was better), Horrible Bosses (horrible movie), and Harry Potter (....in French). While not to mention, letting myself get ripped off by the chick selling popcorn, who snatched a twenty out of my hand and gave me change for a ten. Too scared and culture shocked to say anything, I just let her have it (Still hate myself for that one). But eventually, my brain cleared and Paris felt right, normal.... wonderful. These things take time. There is no other way around personal adjustment.
Tonight is my sixth night in Bergamo, Italy, and I can slowly feel my new life piecing together here. Although I am still feeling about 6,453 uncertain and new emotions a day- it is all growing to be fantastico.
I wake up every morning to the sounds of the maid, Marietta clinking around the house. Slamming doors and washing dishes, she talks to herself. I walk out of my room and she shuffles in, taking my trash and laundry. She says things to me in Italian and looks at me as if searching for a response. I smile and nod my head a lot. She keeps talking. If I throw my hands up and look confused, she just speaks slower and uses more hand gestures- But it's still Italian. I don't speak Italian. This is how dogs must feel when humans talk to them.
Currently, my days consist of: Hanging out with Jacopo (Ya-Ca-Po) for a few hours. Going on long runs through the countryside. Reading. Writing. Eating gelato, prosciutto, and fresh olive oil made from the olive trees in the backyard. Dipping my fingers in nutella jars (plural). Meditating. And praying. My biggest problem at the moment is too much free time (problem, pshhh right?) But it's not like I can call up the dude across the street to see if he wants to watch TV or go get a beer. My english language and I are a bit solo these days amidst all this Italiano.
While many of my friends are braving law school, engaged to Mr. Right, scaling the job market, or all of the above. The hardest task for me personally is accepting that I am not doing any of those things. Nope, not right now. I'm as close to engaged as a lesbian in Texas, and my "job" description should really read: being spoiled by Italian family. At moments, I find myself in panic. What am I going to do? Who will I be? Shouldn't I have some internship somewhere? I'm not working enough. But then I have to stop my mind from going into I want to live the American dream mode. Life doesn't have to be about internships and careers and mortgages and marriages. It's my life. Can't it just be about living somewhere new and doing something, well, cool?
I have all this free time, but I'm not watching TV or on Facebook. I'm training for a triathlon, signed up for a fun Italian class at the University of Bergamo, and taking an online writing course. I'm reading, praying, writing, eating, and enjoying life. Of course I want a "real" job eventually..I think I want to be a therapist. And a writer. But for now, I'm a musing expat in Italy.