I would be lying if I said I did not think everything happened for a reason. Growing up, I have always wondered how my life always seemed to fall into place. I grew up very underprivileged and poor. I never even imagined myself being able to attend college, and DEFINITELY did not envision myself studying abroad. Many people told me this experience would be life changing. Sure, I figured I would take a few classes and see some cool landmarks, but indeed, the experience truly opened my eyes to a completely different world. This experience even opened my eyes to a different person within myself that I never knew was there. I truly found myself.
With that being said, I spent most of the month wondering how I would go about my “giving-back activity.” I had a plan in my mind, but many of the people in Arezzo spoke little to no English. Since I was there learning Microbiology courses, I had no time to learn the language to a large extent. I thought and thought about it day after day. More than twice a week, I would visit my favorite restaurant called “Biolento.” Here, I was served by a couple who owned this quiet, quaint business. They served the freshest, most delicious organic food I had ever had. I went here to study and ponder life, mostly. It was such a relaxing environment and they were always so warm and welcoming. Despite the language barrier, we somehow communicated in a special way every time. Each day, we would teach each other new words and laugh at each other for our poor accents. Maryna, the owner, was so gracious in teaching me the Italian language every time I went in. Eventually, I started going in daily. The routine eventually turned into a language exchange where we really dug deep into the words and phrases we were trying to learn. Not only did I teach them many English words and phrases, I was able to help their business by purchasing their organic products. I also made a point to educate them in the Microbiology I was learning in my classes, such as how the Plague affected much of Europe. Maryna became a dear friend to me and she thanked me for the knowledge I brought to her life. She explained how helpful her new phrases were in dealing with the many American tourists who come in and out of Arezzo. Hopefully, the English I was able to teach her helped her business even more. I know that the Italian she taught me truly helped me flourish! I am so grateful for Maryna and her husband. They allowed me to exchange my language with them, enjoy great Italian food, offer my knowledge, gain knowledge, and become immersed into the Italian culture. I truly think these events happened for a reason!