Vino and Visas: Ciao United States and Ciao Italy

Guardian Staff


IMG_3435One of my favorite Italian words is “Ciao”. Not only is “ciao” incredibly fun and easy to say, but it’s also a multipurpose word, meaning both “hello” and “goodbye.” This is why I have (not-so) cleverly entitled this column “Ciao America, Ciao Italy” because on June 13, I will be saying goodbye to the States and hello to Italy, as I depart for a year-long study abroad trip. This column will serve as my attempt to act as a cultural foreign correspondent by reporting on the people I meet, places I go and things I do — you know, the important things.

My first experience living la dolce vita was in Italy at just 16 years old on a high school trip. During this month-long stay, I was seduced by a romanticized version of Italy: cute boys on vespas, a plethora of gelaterias and no drinking age for wine. Though these aspects of Italian life are very real and still enticing, I’ve grown up a bit since then and have realized that life in Italy is not always perfetto. Actually, Italy has tantissimi problem. For example, in Italy, there is an insane amount of political corruption, a huge youth unemployment rate and don’t even get me started on Italian rap (the language just wasn’t meant for rap music). Despite all of these problems, I still want to live there. Even though Italy is less than perfect and is very different from the U.S., I want to experience something different because I think that immersing yourself into another culture is important. I’ve realized that every country has its quirks and that gaining a new cultural perspective is worth facing all of the problems that come with living in another country.

Even though I am excited to experience something new and exciting, I’m not going to sugarcoat it — leaving the U.S. for a year is hard. There’s so much you have to do, like fill out a million applications — including a visa application, in which you render your passport to some foreign consulate office. Then, there’s the whole trying to fit your life into a suitcase thing, which is incredibly difficult for a notorious overpacker. Also, you have to accept the fact that Europeans don’t measure distances in miles or feet — they put commas where decimals should be ($1,50 is equivalent to $1.50), and they don’t wear yoga pants to places other than to yoga. Finally, you have to say goodbye to your friends and family, which is quite possibly the hardest thing of all. Luckily, my friends and family are already planning their trips to come visit and save me from my inevitable homesickness.

Though there will definitely be things I miss about home, mainly Mexican food, people understanding my weird sense of humor and Netflix, I feel like leaving now is important for me. I feel very comfortable in my current lifestyle, and I think that’s a sign that I need to go and do something that makes me appreciate my life here. Leaving the country for a year seems like a great way to gain some life-changing experiences in a safe way that doesn’t involve taking any hardcore drugs in the desert or cutting off all my hair. My hope with this column is that it encourages all of my readers to travel. I know it’s a tad cliche, but through traveling, you learn so much about yourself. If traveling is not in the cards for you right now, please pour yourself a glass of wine, kick back and read about the crazy adventures I plan to go on. Ciao for now.