Wow, I can’t believe I am in the 3rdweek of my program! It’s a bittersweet moment because I am slightly ready to go home and visit my family, but I am enjoying my stay in Verona and will miss being in Italy. This past weekend was a very special one for me because I got to visit my best friend, who is a nun currently living in Narni, a small town that is about 2 hours away from Rome.
I have been friends with “Sarah,” since we were 13-years-old or in the eighth grade. We were very close and been there for each other during the good times and the bad times. Sarah is heavily devoted to her church and decided that becoming a nun was her calling in life. She left the United States to live in Italy as a nun when she was 18. The last time I saw her was the day before she left, which was over 3 years ago. Therefore, I was excited to learn that Sarah was allowed to have visitors and made plans to see her without her knowing.
Traveling to Narni was initially a hassle, because of my bad luck with taking the trains in Italy! I went to the train station and learned that they ran out of tickets for the train I needed, and the trains that went to Narni were outside of the convent’s visiting hours. With no other alternative, I was forced to get a rental car and travel to Narni. Getting the rental car was super easy, as I did not need an Italian driver’s license (or I just wasn’t asked to present one).
I was terrified of driving in Italy because Italians are aggressive drivers! Their driving style reminded me of California drivers, but worse. For example, tailgating is their way of telling a driver that they are trying to pass them. Furthermore, traveling from Verona to Narni is a 5-hour drive, so it wasn’t exactly a close distance. Nevertheless, I was determined to see my friend and put my fears of driving aside. It turns out that driving was a straightforward ordeal.
The only concern of mine while driving was focusing on the road, as you get to see beautiful hills and greenery when you pass through the countryside! I have never seen such natural beauty before, and it put me at ease while driving. The only surprise I experience while driving is that it costs to take the freeway! When you get on the freeway, you receive a ticket from a toll that you hold onto. When you get off the freeway, you have to insert the ticket and I think your total is based on how far you travel. My cost to travel on the freeway roundtrip amounted to 60 euros. Yikes!
My visit with Sarah made my traveling woes worthwhile. I was only allowed to visit her for 2 hours, so we made the most out of it. The convent was a medium sized building that housed about 20 nuns and 10 other people whom the nuns took care of. The nuns were super lovely and kind. There were a lot of nuns who were originally American, so I was able to communicate with them in English. Sarah and I were super excited to see each other.
It was crazy because it had been such a long time since we’ve seen each other that we did not know where to begin. Nevertheless, we spent a long time catching up and understanding each other what a normal day looks like in our respective lives. By the end of our visit, my mind was put at ease because it was obvious that my friend was where she wanted to be and in a peaceful place.
I know I have one more week until I return to the states, but it’s safe to say that visiting my best friend was the highlight of my entire study abroad experience. I caught a glimpse of a nun’s lifestyle and saw how a simplistic lifestyle can facilitate tranquility in a person. It was definitely a visit I will never forget.