My last week in Sorrento has just come to a bittersweet end, and yesterday I took the Circumvesuviana to Napoli and began a week long tour of Italy with a friend. It is going to be an interesting adventure to move through the biggest and most well known cities in Italy while trying out my Italian skills as I move farther and farther north. We began our journey in Sorrento, and will end in Venice at the end of the week. It’s going to be a cultural and linguistic whirlwind, and I hope that I can really make the most of it before burning out!
My finals went well this week, and I was glad to receive As in both of my classes. I had really learned a lot from both of my professors, and it was a little difficult to walk out of the door on that last Thursday. We had a farewell luncheon at a Trattoria on the Marina Grande the next day with the students and faculty of the Summer One program, and it was another of many heartfelt goodbyes. The group of kids unaffiliated with specific university programs like myself and the Italian friends we had made during our five weeks here had our own unofficial farewell dinner to say goodbye to everyone. It was a Mexican themed potluck, and everyone brought the food they missed the most from America if they could make it.
We had an Italians v. Americans game of soccer the day of Italy’s final Euro Cup game, and needless to say there was a lack of competition. With equal effort on both sides of the field, the Italians had managed to shut out the Americans 14-0. It was interesting to see that some of the phrases I would yell out on the field would be spoken in a mix between Italian and English. I’d scream “vai vai vai” at our players as they ran across the field, and a few other phrases I had picked up from our opponents. When we all watched the game together later that night, I noticed that everyone was cheering on the Italian team in their native language. Cheers of “forza azzuri” and “forza Italia” rung through the living room of a friends home as Italy contested the Germans for the majority of the game.
During each of these events, I had realized that I had really made a home of Sorrento. Speaking to my host mother in Italian was effortless, I had friends who had grown up down the street from me who were so helpful in teaching me and helping me with my Italian, and I was asked to come back and say goodbye from some of my favorite store owners and workers. I really feel that I have made myself a part of the community in Sorrento and the surrounding areas. I learned that it was so much easier to grow and learn if I really gave myself the opportunity to fail. The native speakers were almost always supportive and helpful, and they would make sure that I really grasped what I was saying, even if it was incorrect.
With a heavy heart I leave Sorrento, but I know that my five weeks spent there and on the Amalfi Coast have had such a tremendous impact on not only my Italian, but also my cultural awareness, curiosity, and overall language learning and competency skills that I cannot even begin to fathom at this point and time. I am so eager and excited to begin my journey through Europe without a life jacket. I’ve challenged myself to only speak English to my friend that’s coming with me, so each restaurant, tour guide, and store owner must be spoken to in Italian. I’m a little nervous to travel speaking my second language, but all the more excited to see how my Italian is received outside of Sorrento with complete strangers and native speakers.
Arrivederci, Sorrento! It was an incredible five weeks. Onward to a new challenge!