My last week began with a celebration, a fitting way to begin my goodbyes. Monday night was the conclusion of the festivities for the feast of Sant’Anna, the patron saint of Marina Grande and of my program in Sorrento. In addition to an hour-long fireworks show, there were many food vendors and games set up on the marina. It seemed as though everyone from Sorrento was down on the Marina, as the restaurants set up buffets so they could feed all of the visitors. It was fun to participate in such a light-hearted atmosphere.
However, my last week was not all fun and games. I also had to take finals and give a presentation so I spent a lot of time studying. One of my exams involved a listening comprehension exercise that I felt quite prepared for. My strong suit is being able to comprehend Italian; I find that forming sentences on the spot is what is difficult for me. Since I only had to summarize the key points from the audio recording, I assumed that would be the least challenging part of the test. To my surprise, I struggled to pull out the main ideas. Instead, I found the essay portion of the exam easiest, which usually would be most difficult for me. Reflecting back on it, I think being surrounded by the Italian language most of the time allowed me to pick up on phrases and syntax, which I was able to use in my own writing.
As I traveled home today, I was eager to use my Italian one last time before landing in the US. Luckily for me, the people next to me on the flight were Italian, meaning that in order to communicate we used only Italian. They were excited to hear about my adventures in Sorrento and were jealous because, to them, Sorrento is a vacation town and they could not fathom spending half of the summer there. They asked me about life in the US and things to do in Chicago, where they were visiting.
If I had this flight experience while coming to Italy, I don’t think I would have had the confidence to start a conversation with strangers in Italian. After using it for nearly 6 weeks, I felt like I didn’t have to put so much effort into holding the conversation. While my experience with my final exam proves that I still have work to do on my language skills, this conversation demonstrated to me that all of my hard work was not for nothing.
I find it hard to believe that my studies in Sorrento are over and that I start classes at Notre Dame in 2 weeks. I am excited to get back and continue improving my language skills. Thank you so much for following along on my journey.