Okay, so here’s the thing! I’ve been to Europe multiple times before, and tiny showers, sinks and etc. are the NORM. I know this, and have even been actually charmed by it in the past! In this case, I’m using the tangible object (of the shower tube) as a symbol for a multi-leveled adjustment and acclimation I am going through!
Partaking in a THREE MONTH study abroad program (+ another month in Europe at the end of the school time) is FAR different than any other “traveling” I have done. The closest thing I’ve ever done to this was participating in three short-term missions trips, all three in European countries. Having said that… I’ve been married since I was eighteen years old, and I just celebrated my forty-ninth birthday last week. You may gasp at the 31+ year span of our marriage, but it’s true.
During that time, I admit that I have been fortunate to travel quite a bit, as have my husband and two daughters. Having said that, here are some things that are challenging for me RIGHT NOW:
1. Going to school. I mean going to SCHOOL! My History and Literature classes are dreams, but as I’ve said elsewhere, this Italian class is kickin’ my you-know-what!! GRAMMAR? STUDY?? TESTS???? I’m not really good at THIS, tears and quakin’ ain’t in it!
2. In the school area, I should mention WRITING – as in, with a pen or pencil. Yes, not everything (like notes) can be typed as efficiently as taking notes the old-fashioned way (in a notebook) – the hand cramps and lack of spell-check can be hazardous.
3. Backpacks, books, tablets, lunch, water bottle, map, writing (by hand) instruments, etc. All I can say is bulky, heavy and ….
4. Cooking, grocery shopping and cleaning – you may say, “Aren’t you someone of a certain age”…. well, YES, but in our marriage there is definitely a division-of-labor type of agreement – here – my flatmate does her share, and I HAVE TO DO ALL OF MINE!! (———–hacccccah———–)
5. It’s humid. I’m thankful for the fan in my bedroom, and my silk fan in my handbag – without which a constant state of perspiration would never be broken. Especially since one walks everywhere, and “everywhere” includes lots and lots of stairs. I know, “free workout”, right? My jeans ARE getting pretty loose…. I won’t mention the mosquitos. I’m told falls/winters are COLD. Also, that in Italian law one cannot turn one’s heater on until November, and then only for two hours in the middle of the day. Hence the ever-so-trendy Euro-scarf – read – warmth!!
6. Internet = slower than molasses!! This goes for online school work, bloggging and personal calls with family – all laborious. My dream internet cafe has connection speeds of a million miles an hour. Now if I can just find it!!
7. Schengen Zone Rules: Still working out the travel plans… talk to me about this one offline!
8. Blogging – my B.S.-in-Computer-Science-husband is a couple of time-zones away and focused on mindin’ the ranch – all tech issues have to be figured out by you-guessed-it – haha – export WordPress posts to Facebook, no problemo, right?? Someday!!! Speaking of tech challenges – does anyone know how to get Google back to a U.S.-based interface after one has allowed the interface to “go Italian”? ArGh!!
9. Being away from everything familiar, especially family & friends. I love making new friends, but that first week was especially hard, and missing my husband-of-30 years has never been so raw and near the surface.
10. Okay, so there you go. Would I change a thing? NO. This is exactly what I should be doing right now. Love Florence, love Italy, love Europe – totally stoked to be here – and if you’re STILL reading now, kudos! I love traveling as many people do, but that’s the thing; this isn’t traveling, it’s living.