A little help from LeBron James


After my last post, I began thinking more about the little time I have left in Italy, and I felt much more of a sense of urgency to do as much as I can and experience as much of Italian life as I can before I leave. So, I have been extra sure to keep myself busy recently – and that has meant a number of things.

For one, I have really been diving into my school work more deeply (this one might not have been so much by choice – I’ve had more than a few papers and presentations to work on!) Although my homework can keep me behind my computer screen a little more than I may like, this aspect of my trip has been one of the most valuable ways to continue my growth as a student of Italian language and life. Not only am I practicing my language skills on a daily basis in this way, but I have also gotten to know my professors better and have learned more about their life in Italy, too. As a side note, one thing that has helped me to connect more with my professors (and actually with everyone, such as the Italian kids I referenced in my last post) has been my interest in sports. It’s the easiest thing for me to talk about in English, and it turns out it is also the easiest thing for me to talk about in Italian. For instance, the central topic of my latest Italian presentation involved a comparison that I made between LeBron James and one of the poet’s that we have been reading about in class. My professor really appreciated that I was able to connect my personal life to the deep themes of Italian literature that we have learned in class – and now he references LeBron James in class almost every day just for me (I think he’s making fun of me honestly but I’m okay with it).  I brought up LeBron James just for fun with my other professor outside of class, and that got us started on a long conversation about sports, too – so I guess LeBron James is helping me learn Italian, too (what can’t that guy do?).

I have also been more attentive to things like what foods I am buying at the grocery stores, or eating out at restaurants, in order to be sure to experience as much of the local and national cuisine as possible (i.e. trying not to rely on Pringles as my go-to snack anymore, and resisting the urge to seek out the local place for an American hamburger). I am not the biggest seafood person, but with Sorrento being right on the coast, I’ve been making an effort to try out some of their local fish dishes and I have definitely enjoyed that. I also visited Naples last week, and instead of stopping in the McDonald’s there (we walked right past it and it was tough I’m not going to lie), we found a place to eat some traditional Neapolitan pizza (which of course made McDonald’s seem pretty irrelevant). I tried the “four seasons” pizza so that I could taste as many different types as possible.

More than anything, I’ve been trying my best to spend any free time that I have to the fullest. I’ve been trying to go into town more often and experience new places and people. I had a fun experience last week when I went to buy some stamps. The place I usually go to was closed, so instead of just going to the next place I knew, I decided to use it as an opportunity to practice my Italian. Lucky for me, I had the chance to talk to several Italians, because no one was able to direct me to the right place for stamps for quite some time.   Go to the post office, they said – so I went and it was closed just for that day. It’s impossible for it to be closed, another man said – so I went back and made sure that it was definitely still closed. Go that way for the nearest tabacchi shop, another woman said – but another man I met going that way told me the opposite direction was definitely the way to go. The last person I talked to at a tabacchi shop told me I was out of luck and to return for stamps tomorrow. (In the end, I just went back to the other place that I knew that had stamps, and I easily found stamps there – but I still had fun because I did not break from speaking Italian the whole time during my search for stamps.)

I’ve also put a lot of effort into seeing as many new places in Italy as I can. I have loved exploring the Sorrento area as much as possible, but I have also found that new places are not only exciting to see but also offer new chances for immersing myself into the language and culture of Italy. I went on a really cool hike along the Amalfi Coast recently (check the pictures!), but it was also an adventure in itself just doing the traveling by public transport just to get there. This past weekend, I went on my biggest adventure yet, but I am going to save that for my next post, because I have so much to say about what I experienced – tune in soon to find out what I did!

the Amalfi Coast
it’s safer than it looks don’t worry, Mom
me and my roommate/ hiking buddy Rich