Il mio primo gelato–first gelato!
Let me tell you about my day. I woke up at 11 a.m. because I realized the alarm I set was unfortunately 9 p.m., not a.m. But my host mom was excited to see me when I woke up, and I think she understood that I was exhausted from my flight. I later figured out that many students slept in late–some until 1 in the afternoon!
I woke up to a breakfast of coffee, biscotti, toast and nutella again. I loved it. We chatted over breakfast for a long time, while watching TV, which is also in their dining room. She told me about all of her past host students, and she finally took out all of the letters she’s received from them. There were so many, and all of them were incredibly kind–telling her about marriage or boyfriends or school, or giving photos of their family. She is beloved, and it’s easy to tell why.
Later, we headed out to meet our group for a quick tour of Rome. The student and her host mom whom we met on the bus yesterday was supposed to meet us and we were all to go together, but something happened with the train and many people arrived late. The train was insane. I was smashed up against many other people and I believe my host mom told me that it isn’t usually like that, but because there was a problem with the train, more people were on each train. I clutched my bag tightly in front of me because it’s very easy to get stolen from on a train, especially since I obviously don’t blend in. My host mom held on to my waist and held me tight to her so that I wouldn’t fall down. The entire way to meet our group, from walking to taking the train, she held my hand. It was adorable.
Finally, we met up with our group and discovered that we were one of the first families there. Some students came alone, which is miraculous to me because it’s dangerous, especially if you don’t know the city, but more power to them. I was happy that my host mom came with me. When my professoressa arrived, my host mom immediately flocked to her and told her she was going to buy a gelato right then and there. Surprisingly, my professoressa, host mom and I left the group to get a gelato and caffe. It was my first gelato, and I can’t tell you how amazing it was. I got il bacio, which is like a chocolate hazelnut, and a cherry swirl. The gelato dripped down the cone as I happily devoured it. I later found gelato on my iPad, and to the delight of my friend Marina, licked if off. She laughed hysterically at this, but I think she would have done the same if she didn’t have any napkins!
When we went to meet up with the group, we had to wait about 20 minutes because my professoressa couldn’t find her husband. In a hilarious series of events, one student mentioned that she saw his husband walking around the piazza, but then he left. “I thought he was pacing, but then he kept going!” Antonella was shocked. “Why didn’t you go talk to him? You know him! He was probably looking for me, and Allegra,” she said looking to me, ‘I was probably geting a gelato with your host mother!”
I shrugged sheepishly, only a little embarrassed. Everyone loves my host mother, so I wasn’t too worried. A few students even told me they wish they had my host mother instead of theirs.
We set off on our tour of Rome, thinking that maybe we’d find my professoressa’s husband somewhere along the way. I mean, really, how big can Rome be?
Walking through Rome for the first time is an experience I’ll never forget. As one student said, everything she saw through the lens of Instagram. That is to say, everything was photo-perfect. The tall, colorful buildings with brightly colored wooden shutters and narrow streets that I always associated with Pinterest photos were everywhere, dotted with attractive men riding Vespas, and incredibly posh women on the back of the scooters. Dogs, also, were everywhere. My feet hurt, but I really didn’t care, everything was so beautiful. Gelaterias were everywhere, as were clothing stores and bars with goofy dancing waiters who sang “happy hour” and aggressively tried to push you in to their restaurant.
Some sights were so much larger than life, you’d really just have to see it to understand. A photo in a textbook cannot convey the enormity of the colosseum or the pantheon or Roman Forum. For a few minutes, I literally just stood in awe of each. It’s incredibly to think they were built so many years ago, juxtaposed with the more modern shops and people using iPads to take photos.
At the end of the tour, coming home was an experience, to say the least. To be honest, all I knew was the stop that I needed to take on the bus home, but not how to go from the stop to the apartment.
We all rode the bus together, but after I got off, I was on my own. I got lost for about an hour, asking around “Dove questo posto?” with a notepad with the address written. Some people knew, some people thought they did, and some just gave me a “mi dispiace, non lo so.” When I finally came home, I opened the gate and tried to open the door but my host mom was there before I was, opening it for me and ushering me inside. She enveloped me in a tight hug. “I was so scared for you,” she said with a scared look on her face. Over and over, she told me she was so afraid and I apologized profusely, explaining I got lost. She sat me down to eat, telling me that sadly, the food was cold because I was late, and I didn’t know what else to say except I was so sorry. I felt so bad for putting her through that, and I’m just glad that she didn’t get angry.
The meal was thinly-pounded chicken breast battered with eggs and cheese and fried until golden brown and tender in the middle, accompanied by a romaine salad dressed lightly in what I assume was olive oil and lemon juice. At the end of the meal, she offered me mayonnaise to go with my salad. I was confused, thinking that maybe I was misunderstanding the name, but she brought it out and it was indeed…mayonnaise. I explained that in America, we mostly use it for sandwiches, and she said that they use it for everything. Interesting. After chatting a bit, I took a shower, declined a nightcap since I ate so late, and took a shower. After my shower, I was sitting in bed while the phone rang. I distantly heard my host mother nervously answering the phone and after she called my name “Juhie!” which comes out more like “joie” I realized it was my mother. After telling her I needed to use the calling card to call her back, we chatted on the phone for an hour, I wished my host mom good night and went to bed. Even though I slept so late, it was an exhausting day.