Living in Italy

Bongiorno! Today marks my twelfth beautiful day in Italy! Thanks to my Take Stock in Children scholarship program; and my amazing mentor and coach Adrienne Casamayor; I am able to participate in‘s Italy program.

I first arrived in Rome, then I went to Cortona. During my stay there I took two trips to Florence. Now I am with my homestay family in Cosenza, which is in the south of Italy.

In Rome I got to see the ancient forums, the Colosseum, and best of all the beautiful Vatican museum; which has the Sistine Chapel and Basilica of St. Peter. There I got to see the works of Michelangelo and Raphael, but there are many amazing artists that have also contributed to all the awesome works in Vatican and Rome. Witnessing all the artworks dedicated to biblical stories gave me a sense of enlightenment towards Catholicism. I also felt connected to those around me in the Basilica of St. Peter; they were all very calm and in awe as I was. Overall, the morning I went to Vatican was a deeply healing experience.

In Cortona I got to experience its contrasting small town beauty. It’s on a hill so the I can see a panorama view almost everywhere I go. Here I took my Italian language courses with my charismatic teacher, Laura Moretti, and I also got to learn about the Etruscan history that connects to Cortona and the rest of Italy.

As I mentioned, I am currently with my homestay family, which includes my two homestay sisters Giorgia and Giulia. They have taught me so much, not to mention they are incredibly welcoming. Giulia has amazing English skills and is helping me communicate with her friends and family. Cosenza is a small town, and everyone knows and loves each other.

My experience in the small towns Cortona and Cosenza, has bestowed me with insight knowledge on the typical Italian lifestyle; as opposed to the touristic cities like Rome and Florence. One big component is of course the wonderful language. As a Spanish speaker, learning Italian has been a bit easier on my end, but it is no piece of cake. Italian people are quite social, so it is important to put effort towards learning the language. Even if I need help understanding, Italians are quick to show their appreciation for my effort. Another big cultural difference is the times of daily events. Unlike my seven o’clock dinner time in America, Italians usually have their dinner later; after sunset, at 9 or 10 at night.

Italy is so rich in history its astounding! For example, “the Pieta” by renisaince sculptor Michelangelo dates back to 1499 ( And that is only a fraction of the historical artifacts I was able to witness. I am still having trouble conceptualizing the fact that Italy has been civilized for over 3,000 years!

All of these components add up to my changing mindset. With my whole reality conformed every city I go to, I realize that life isn’t about being a high achiever, which is something I often struggle with. I learned to sit back and observe; to focus on the positive; to enjoy the small things like food; and finally, to share more. Traveling and rooming with a group of new people has taught me to be more open and mindful.

Finally, traveling so far makes the world a million times smaller. I now see that I am capable of exploring countries completely different from mine and getting out of my comfort zone.

This is only half of my time here, and I hope to continue learning great things from my trip…