I have achieved my first week in Italy, and the learning curve that came with it has been astronomical! This past week has consisted of me pushing myself out of my comfort zone and getting into the groove of things here in Verona.
Getting to Verona was challenging for me, even by tourists’ standards! I have never flown before, so my introduction to new life experiences started as soon as I stepped foot into the LAX. I was initially nervous when my grandmother dropped me off at the airport because it meant that I was truly on my own until I made it to Verona. It turned out that flying was the easiest part; However, landing to the Malpensa Airport and taking the train to Verona was quite the experience that proved to be the biggest learning curve of the week.
What should have been a two-hour train ride to Verona wounded up being a 6-hour adventure consisting of being late for the train, getting off the train to early, getting on the wrong train, and buying train tickets for an entirely different train company! My misfortunes stemmed from not having service on my phone because I bought the wrong international plan- therefore, I had no way to use Google Maps to check and see where I was going. I eventually was helped by a generous traveler and got to the hotel safely (though tired!). I normally call my mother or grandmothers for advice and emotional support when life throws me curveballs, but I was unable to do so during my travels because my phone service was off. Even though the day was less than ideal, my takeaway from the traveling was that I can manage to make it through daunting situations by myself. I was proud of making it through that day, and have confidence that I can make handle myself when life throws me curveballs.
In regards to the educational aspect of my program, this week mainly consisted of getting to know other students in the program and adjusting to life in Verona. Our schedule roughly consists of having lecture in the morning, watching a food demonstration, being served foods that align with the Mediterranean diet for lunch, and going on a tour. My favorite part about our program is definitely the food! The head chef, Antonia, turns basic veggies and fruits into highly satisfying dishes. I also enjoy how what we learn is applied through the field trips we take after lecture. For example, this week we learned about olive oil in the classroom, and we took a tour to an olive oil processing plant to solidify what was taught during the lecture. Learning in this manner helps me retain information better and gives me ideas on how I can apply information learned into real-world situations. Fortunately, this is really easy to do since I have to eat food on a daily basis.
Now that I am getting the hang of things here in Verona, I made a couple of goals for myself. My first goal is to be more interactive with the locals and start practicing my Italian. I used to be shy about doing this because I know that my pronunciation is sub-par, but I want to put my best foot forward and start immersing myself in the language beyond saying “Ciao.” I also plan to get out more and start exploring the city. Now that I got the hang of using the public busing system- which went way smoother than using the train for the first time, I should add- I want to start discovering some of the quirks that my host city has to offer! I can’t wait to return to update you guys and how my 2nd week abroad goes!