I am starting to feel the “culture shock”. This morning, I sat in the teacher’s lounge and felt as if I was in slow motion. I could hear the Italian chatter and could see the prof’s buzzing around me yet I was still. Italians do not have inside voices. In fact, they all seem to yell rather than speak. They aren’t angry, passionate. My heartbeat increased. I thought to myself, where am I? What am I doing? Are you crazy? I was trapped.
I had just finished two lessons, both powerpoint presentations. In the second class, I spoke about California. I realized half of them did not understand one word flying out of my mouth. They were frustrated because they couldn’t understand. I was frustrated because I couldn’t hold their attention. My school day ended at 10:30AM (I started at 7:50 AM…much different than my 10 hour days at GCLA). What the heck was I going to do for the rest of the day? I have no car or means of transportation other than my legs. Trapped again. I couldn’t catch my breath. I started to feel hot (rare, when the daily average is 0 degrees C). Time to go. Thank goodness for my host family.
Ten minutes later I was zooming through the Italian mountains with Angelo (who speaks very little English). He kept saying “by the water”. I didn’t understand. The water was down, not up! More frustration. Ahhhh I wanted to get out of the car and scream. Two minutes later he stopped the car. Andiamo! He shut his door and walked towards the trunk of the car. I happily exited the vehicle and found him unloading large glass jugs. “Water!”. I stopped and realized the sound of running water. In that moment my “culture shock”, self pity and anxiety vanished. We were about to fill glass bottles up with water from a natural spring! I wanted to cry. I don’t know why, but I did. A tear ran down my face as I trudged down the stairs with two bottles in hand. It was beautiful. The sound of the mountain spring, the crisp air and the experience. I felt very lucky and thankful for this moment in time. A number of moments prior to this had to happen to get me here. Some easy and some very difficult. But, now I was in Gozzano filling up bottles with fresh spring water.
I started to analyze the waste in my life both physical and mental. How many containers of food or bottles of water had I consumed during my lifetime? How many hours were spent on social media outlets watching other people lives? It’s too much. Food, water, goods, electronics, clothes, iPhones, apps, messaging. These evils are the norm and praised in the States. You can have whatever you want at any moment. Here, I believe it’s easier to only take what you need. Material goods and personal relationships are cherished. I enjoy this way of life.