Dear Italy, Letter from an Italian Girl

Dear Italy,

I miss you so much.

It is absurd how we take for granted the things we have had for our entire life. And then, when we don’t have those obvious things anymore, we realize how much we care about them and how much we miss them.

Dear Italy, it has been a month that we have been apart, but I think about you every single moment.

I am an international student from Udine, a small Italian city. My region is called Friuli Venezia Giulia, and it is famous for Prosecco, Polenta, and Frico. Why am I here? Last September I decided that I wanted to change something in my life. I submitted the application and won the scholarship to come to University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, for the fall semester. I was completely unsatisfied; I wanted more; I wanted to find a sense and a purpose.

All my life, I was thinking about “losing time and wasting opportunities.” I have always thought that my place in the world was somewhere else, with someone else, doing something else. And I was constantly regretting for missed opportunities, and complaining about my situation. I was bored. I wanted a challenge. I wanted to see something different, to break the rules, to stay away from my home, to fight my own fears. I wanted to discover my potential and my ability to adapt in a foreign and sometimes hostile environment. So I came here, and I loved it.

On the other hand, I miss you, Italy.

I miss what you gave to me. You gave me a lovely family, incredible Italian friends, and a boyfriend. You gave me my culture, my way of thinking, and you also gave me my education and my fashion style (yes, you gave me also those incredible banana-leaves pants that everybody here loves so much).

I miss you, Italy, just because I miss all the things that I have thanks to you. But not only the people I love, also places, food, language, culture, customs.

When you live in the same country for so long, you take everything for granted. You eat the best pasta and pizza every week, you know exactly what to buy at the grocery shop, you are able to find your favorites clothes and beauty products in the shop near your house, and you can predict the weather. Then, immediately, you have to adapt to a different environment. Different food, a weather that is causing you a lot of troubles, and completely different vegetables and fruits. (What is squash? Kale? Why are papayas and mangos so cheap?)

Maybe Floridians take for granted eating avocado and esotical fruits every day. Well, if they lived in Italy, they would find that those fruits are not as accessible as they think. Maybe people of the United States are used to enormous roads, shopping malls, and huge cups of coffee. Well, nobody drinks that quantity of coffee in Italy (we drink only “espresso”; that here is called “single shot”).

I’m so sorry, Italy, but I had to come here. This is the most important experience of my life; this is the only way I had to find my path. I love what I see and learn every day, I love everything new I discover, and I am glad to be part of all of this. I’m trying to appreciate everything I find new here and to enrich my culture and knowledge. I’m trying to understand how to prepare good sweet potatoes or kale chips (yes, I’m addicted to healthy food), and trying to figure out what oatmeal is. I’m trying to appreciate the incredibly hot weather that immediately turns into rainstorms. I’m trying to meet as many people as possible, to learn from their experiences, and to share mine with everyone.

And that’s exactly why now I’m writing here.

I will focus on my culture and my Italian way of living, just because I want to share my Italian world with the people of this country (as they are sharing their American world with me). But also because I miss you, Italy. Writing about you is the only way I have to remind myself how lucky I am to have this incredible possibility: to be here, to know and learn so much from the people I meet, to foster and enrich my personality with all the experiences and difficulties I have to face.

Writing about you is the only way I have to celebrate my love for you. To tell you that now I’m able to appreciate you, Italy. Now that I am away, I can see how beautiful you are with your culture, art, incredibly good food, people, inimitable fashion style, and history.

Miss you, Italy.

But see you in the next article.

Con amore,

Elisa