I guess this technically should’ve been my first post. Similar to the way novels start in the middle of the story, this would’ve been the first chapter of my life.
Before arriving to Italy, I was clueless at to what to expect. All I knew was that I wanted this new stage in my life to work out perfectly well enough to prevent me from crawling back into a wormhole.
I was armed with the knowledge that the only thing I knew to say was, “Ciao! Non capisco l’italiano. L’inglese?” This translates to, “Hello! I don’t understand Italian. English?” I was off to a good start, and certain that I’d be speaking the native tongue in no time.
But … life.
The day I departed for Italy was certainly a bittersweet one. I’d never “went away” for college but I think you can compare it to that. Yes, you know you would be coming back soon but the thought of leaving everything behind was just unbearable — especially if you’re a low-key hoarder. *I hoard people as well*
Despite numerous delays (and the feeling that the Universe was trying to convey I must stay my behind in New York), I was filled with optimism. It certainly helped that my family and friends were there for me, both physically and digitally. I’m also grateful to have been able to fly Business Class because it definitely made the flight bearable and very comfy.
It took 9 hrs and 45 mins of flight for me to contemplate whether this was the best or worse decision I ever did make. Admittedly I was asleep for half of that time. I just hope I snored like a lady should. The long flight was the first part of the journey. What came next was 5 hrs and 15 mins Coach ride from Rome to Porto San Giorgio, where I was to be picked up for another 40 minutes of travel time. In case it didn’t sink in: I’m living behind God’s back.
To say I had trouble navigating the airport is an understatement. It took me a while to figure out where to go. The signage and lack of identifiable airport employees were part of the problem. When I did figure out where to go, another flight came in and ended causing a long queue. I also learned that people’s concept of lining up and waiting your turn was different on this side of the world. I couldn’t let that fly though.
When I finally got my luggage (see that 5’2 girl with three suitcases and a rapidly falling apart handbag? That’s me) and made my way outside, it was HELL trying to find my bus. It took a lot of slow speaking, hand gesturing and suitcases tumbling to find the right location. But, I did and just before it was about to take off. And I still wasn’t sure if I was on the right bus. *face palm*
The ride went smoothly for the most part.
I cannot even begin to sum up how I felt seeing this guy’s foot on my coat. So many scenarios ran through my mind, but each ended with me in a foreign prison. So, I took the passive aggressive route instead. I made sure he knew that I was taking a picture of his disgusting foot, sucked my teeth, had my bag nudge it, and eventually he got the point.
Honestly, this is how [or one of the ways in which] prejudice against an entire group of people begins: This was my first realistic encounter with Italian citizens (I knew he was Italian because he was talking to another man); this was the first impression thrown my way; and this was one of the most disrespectful actions to show another human being. This experience could’ve form a negative mindset towards all Italians, and could have affected my outlook on how to expect life in Italy to be.
Prior to my arrival in Italy, I’d read on the “migration problem” involving people from different parts of Africa and the impact it has on Italy’s society. I can only assume that this man thought I was from the continent of Africa and so felt the need to showcase his true colors. But, since I consider myself to be practical and logical, I will give him the benefit of the doubt.
*I still secretly hope that he stumps his big toe one day*