ArrivederciSiena, Spring 2009
Right now, I’m sitting in Rome’s Fumicino Airport. I just ate an entire Margharita pizza; reminiscing over my time spent in Italy, it was the only appropriate choice for lunch.
Wednesday, we finished exams with a bang. I had my last two written exams and one Italian oral exam. After writing my fingers numb, we celebrated our semester with IES’ Farewell Dinner. All of the IES staff, professors and, of course, the students ate dinner in a garden right off of the Campo. It was a perfect atmosphere with delicious Italian food. We gave toasts, read poems and celebrated our time in Siena — complete with Raphael’s School of Athens painting with each of our faces Photoshopped into the artwork. After a long night, we all ended up in the Campo bidding teary goodbyes and Ciao’s, some of us with the lingering thought that our paths may never cross again.
The next day, Thursday, while most of my friends were enjoying (?) the three-hour long bus ride to Rome for the last time, I spent the day sitting in the Piazza del Campo and walking up and down the streets of Siena’s center one last time. It was strange thinking that these streets that I’d grown so synthesized to were going to become just another memory of my four months in Siena. The huge pink and white marbled façade of the Duomo, the bell tower that overlooks the entire red-tiled city, and the huge cones of gelato that are the chosen accessories of nearly every tourist have no parallel in the States.
On Friday, I spent the day packing my life into one suitcase. Then, I ate one last “cena” with my sweet family and our neighbors came over to tell me goodbye after lemoncello and chocolates. Elisabetta, my host sister, made me a video with lots of pictures from my time in Siena. Rosetta, my host mother, gave me a beautiful blue dress, and my host dad, Leonardo, gave me Ricerelli (spelling???), a special type of Italian dolce (sweets).
This morning, Elisabetta had to go to school (Italians have school on Saturdays!!!), but she came to tell me goodbye before she left. And…that’s when the floodgates opened up. Before I came to Italy, I was so nervous about living with a family. All kinds of possibilities went through my head before I arrived, only knowing that their last name was Lavella (which turned out to be only Rosetta’s last name – women in Italy usually keep their maiden names) and it was a “family with two teenagers.” Of course I hoped that I would grow close with them and feel comfortable in their household, but I never imagined that I’d grow as close as I did with each member of the family. I know that not everyone has as wonderful an experience with their home stays as I did, but I am so blessed and fortunate to have been placed with my family. Last night, Elisabetta was replying to an email from a girl from California who will be living with them this summer. She wrote that they had five people in their family, and then realized that she’d counted me.
This morning, Rosetta, Leonardo and Laura drove me to the train station, and there the floodgates opened once more. Rosetta started crying, so I did, too. Leaving is so much harder than I thought it would be, but I’ve decided that means that I’ve had an even better time than I ever hoped of having. This experience has truly been the most wonderful experience of my life. I’m going to start saving my money to return as soon as possible.
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