The End… and the Beginning

I studied through sweating and mini panic attacks last night, through runny noses and a slight sore throat. I didn’t sleep very well – I’m coming down with something, I just know it – and when my alarm went off this morning I pulled myself out of bed and went over my notes one more time. I walked to school slowly, trying to shake the negative thoughts out of my head (“… no, Sarah, you’re not getting sick… you’re going to make it through this test, everything will be fine!”) I got to school and powered through the thing. But even though I found it relatively easy, I dragged it out near the end because, well, I knew it was coming.

And then that was it: it was over.

My final, my Italian class, my study abroad experience, my stay in Torino.

My one teacher Silvia gave me cookies afterwards, with a note that read, “Dear Sarah, I wish you all the best! I would like you to keep studying Italian language because you are an excellent student. I hope to see you again.” I walked home slowly too, but this time it was not because I was feeling bad – I was just trying to take in everything around me and realize that after Sunday, it will all just be a memory.

I watched The Godfather upon returning to my apartment. Doing such a thing is unheard of here in Italy: the movie has a terrible reputation, since it gives Italians an even worse one. Then I went back to school to check my grade and say goodbye to my teachers.

I walked into the classroom that Aida (my other teacher) and Silvia were in – they had just finished proctoring their other Italian class’s test. Silvia beamed at me and asked me if I liked my grade. I told her I hadn’t checked yet, that I wanted to make sure I said goodbye to them before they went home for the day. She said, “Well, I won’t tell you, but congratulations.” She gave me a big hug, and then she left. Aida walked over to me and said, “What’s the highest possible grade you could get?” I couldn’t help but smiling – an A was definitely in my future! “What?” I asked her. She pulled my final over to me, where she had totaled all of my points. “100,” she said. “Bravissima. Congratulations.” I was so excited I didn’t even know what to do with myself. I thanked her over and over again, telling her that I loved the class and that she and Silvia were excellent teachers. “You have a real bend for Italian,” she said. I looked at her, confused by what she meant. “After all my years of teaching, I can tell that it comes really naturally to you. I urge you to keep taking it. After one or two more classes, you should be fluent.” I thanked her again and told her that I hope to, that I really like it and that I can’t wait to learn more.

It’s an awesome feeling being told my your teacher that you’re excellent at something you really enjoy. I feel like Italian does come kind of naturally to me. It just makes sense. My learning of the language and the culture by no means stops here; I hope to take it home with me and continue to learn and improve at it.

It hit me afterwards again how sad I am to be leaving. True, I’m still going to be travelling, but the little things about this place won’t be around anymore. Or rather, I won’t be around them. I won’t have to turn the main gas line on to cook dinner, or to light the stove myself. I won’t be able to walk down the street to one of my favorite gelaterias in town. My toilet at my house flushes and fills itself instead of me having to wait to fill the one here. The store back home doesn’t have pre-toasted bread or mojito sodas or Kinder Bueno bars. It doesn’t leave its eggs out on the shelf or have converting carts. True, I won’t be woken up by the glass truck in the early hours of the morning and I won’t get eaten alive by mosquitos every night, but there are a lot of things I’m going to miss about this place. I am actually leaving, and I really can’t take a lot of what’s become part of my life back with me.

My consolation is that I can take all of my memories, and that I get to show others what living in Torino is like, starting with my mom and sister. I can take them all of the places that I loved going to and eat the best food I found here. Then, after adventuring to other parts of Europe, I get to go home and tell all of my friends what it’s like to live in Italy. I can show them pictures of the places I frequented and speak to them (if only a little bit) in Italian. I can read off an Italian restaurant menu with confidence that I’m saying it right. I can take everything I’ve learned here and try to adapt it to the way I live my life back home. It’s a little daunting, this reconciliation, but I’m kind of excited about it. I can’t wait to walk more, to visit our Farmer’s Market more often and to cook real food.

For now, I’m going to enjoy the short amount of time I have left here. I’m going to our modern art museum in an hour or so, so I have to shower and make my feverish self look presentable. Tonight is also my roommate Erika’s last night here, so we’re all going out to dinner as a group for the last time. Ciao for now – I’m sure more sentimental posts will head your way shortly.

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