After a week of having class everyday, meals at home, and exploring Sorrento, I feel that I’ve finally established a routine and that I am becoming a part of the community. It’s rather difficult to meet and establish relationships with native Italian speakers in Sorrento because so many people my age have moved away for university or travel, or prefer to speak in English with me. I have found a way around this by frequenting the same restaurants, cafes, and bars between and after my classes, so the people that work there have gotten to know me quite well! I explained to them that I’m a student at Sorrento Lingue, and they immediately offered to speak Italian with me, correct me when I’m struggling, and try to talk to me about topics outside of ordering food or coffee. This has been a total game changer as I now feel that I have established companionships with people my age who are willing to help me grow on a daily basis. They have been so supportive of me, and my conversational skills have become much stronger. Admitting that my Italian isn’t perfect has allowed me to strive for growth in just trying to get my point across without being technically correct, and going back to review and fix my mistakes.
I haven’t explored much of the regions outside of Sorrento like I did last week. I used my free time this week to plant my feet in the ground and make the city feel like home. Now when I walk to class I say hi to some people around town and chat along the way. Sorrento feels like less of a city and more of a small town because I see so many familiar and friendly faces each day. My host mother has invited her friends over a few days this week, so I have been able to get to know them while I’m studying in the apartment, and entertain Carla, the young girl upstairs.
Yesterday, I joined my friend’s host family and went to the festival of Sant’Antonio in Seiano, a small fishing village outside of Sorrento. They drove us there with their two small children, Camilla who is four and Giuseppe who is 5. We had some drinks as we watched the procession along the river, watched the fireworks, and enjoyed the food and music of the festival. It was the most authentically Italian experience I have had thus far in Sorrento as I didn’t meet a single person who hadn’t grown up in that very town. The area, much like all of Italy, is rich with history and tradition. Sant’Antonio was the saint that sailors from the town prayed to when they went out on their fishing trips, and even though the industry isn’t as lively as it once was, the tradition is just as vibrant as it was hundreds of years ago. Domenico, the father, had grown up right in Seiano so we met some of his childhood friends and chatted about what it was like growing up in Italy. They were more than happy to speak Italian to me and English to my friend so we both benefitted from the storytelling. We compared slang words and words that are adopted from American media, and got home around midnight.