I write this post from a café in the hub of Sorrento on my third espresso of the morning. This has by far been the busiest week thus far in my time here, and also the most enriching. Since Monday, I have taken my midterm examinations, traveled to Rome for two days, and then made my way to the island of Capri and the surrounding grottos and landmarks. I’m so lucky to be able to seize these opportunities, for every single day in Sorrento feels like a lifetime’s worth of experiences and memories.
My midterms went very well this week and I feel that my scores on the tests reflect the knowledge that I’ve acquired in both courses already. Not only my daily classes in Italian, but also my daily interactions with native speakers have prepared me for the wide breadth of material covered in such a short time. Studying is hardly a concern because I am able to take what I learn in class each day directly to my friends and host family and practice until it becomes natural to me. I’ve found that I can get a good grip on each new tense and irregular verb after one dinner with Mamma than I can with studying from the book. It’s such a unique and pleasant experience to be able to immediately put my lessons into practice as soon as I step foot outside of the classroom. For the most part, the locals have been so helpful in waiting for me to put together my responses and correcting me when I am wrong. They have never looked down upon me for using incorrect Italian, because they see that I am trying and have so much pride in their heritage that any appreciation for it is well received.
Rome was incredible. I was able to meet a friend who I hadn’t seen in over a year, and it was so nice to catch up over authentic pizze and pasta. He had become fluent in Swedish in the time that i had been learning Italian, so it was so fun to see the progress that both of us had made in a year’s time. It was so interesting to be in a new environment and a bigger city because the native speakers in Rome were so much more appreciative if that was even possible. I could tell that with all of the inflow of tourists from all over the world, it was a breath of fresh air to be able to speak their native language, and I was getting some practice out of it along the way. From the Trevi Fountain to the Roman Forum and the Pantheon, in 24 hours I managed to do it all. I can’t express how incredible it is in Rome that behind every corner is thousands of years of history, ruins, and pride. Before I left for Italy, I remember my dad saying that Italy is simultaneously one of the most beautiful and sad cities in the world because in every inch of land there is evidence of centuries of accomplishment and achievement, but the current state of Italy lacks industry and ingenuity. I really felt that walking around Rome with my friend.
Capri was another incredible experience among many. Some of my friends from the school rented two boats with our Italian friends who grew up in the city and we toured Capri and the surrounding areas. It was a full day trip, so we had plenty of time to talk about the strange differences between Italian and American culture, and I had one of my friends teach me the dialect from Napoli. That was really exciting because I had been wondering why it was a little difficult to understand some of the locals, and I realized that in this region of Italy, it’s normal to shorten words to just one syllable or even call it something completely different. For example, some native speakers will call the television “the man in the box” instead of the regularly accepted word. While my sunburn is a less exciting souvenir of the days festivities, it was one of the best days in my weeks here.
Another week of studying and learning through experience has come to an end in Sorrento, and it’s bittersweet. I really love every minute here, but it is going to be nice to see my family and share with them each of these experiences and hopefully encourage them to go out and learn more about the world we live in and where we come from.