I arrived at Marco Polo airport Saturday, November 1, at around 10:30pm. The family (we will call them the “Rossis”) met me at the arrivals entrance and greeted me with big smiles and two kisses on the cheek.
The father (Gio) is a tall man with a very gentle personality and quiet reserve. The mother (Valeri) is a petite woman full of decorum and great cultural intellect. The daughter (Francesca) is ten years old and, though shy at first, is very affectionate and filled with a mature and worldly spirit.
The first night, we drank the tea I had brought from Korea while I told them about my travels. They slept at around 1am while I unpacked some of my luggage. I awoke the next morning and joined them for breakfast. Unlike Korea, the weather here was still nice and sunny, so we ate outside. I don’t know what I expected a typical breakfast in Italy to be like. But for the Rossis, it is tea and biscuits with jam and homemade Nutella. I’m not going to lie, I wanted it to be more. This may be due to the fact that I did not eat anything since before I departed Korea 33 hours before. In any case, the homemade Nutella was amazing and it was nice to be out in an actual yard and under the sun!
The rest of the first day (and the week) involved me getting to know the house, learning my responsibilities, and establishing a relationship with Francesca. I don’t have many responsibilities; a little bit of cleaning in the morning, and picking up Franchesca from school in the afternoons. Some help with the cooking and maybe a little “babysitting” every now and then. More than anything, I think I am just here for the cultural influence and English-speaking opportunity for Francesca and her mother. Which is alright with me!
[ SN: Coming from a job that just did not satisfy my thirst for diverse cultural influence, I am happy to be in an environment where I am constantly exposed to and stimulated by it. Valeri, an English and French language professor, loves learning and talking about all things multicultural. When we are together, we always end up talking about what we like or what we find interesting about ‘X’ culture. And what I love most, is how she makes sure to expose her daughter to such conversations as well. ]
Everyday, I started to get more comfortable walking around the house uninvited. I now clean and prepare food on my own. I can leave the house and come back on my own. On Wednesday, I picked Francesca up alone and took her to volleyball practice. I studied at a pasticciera for an hour while I waited for her to finish. We rode the bus back home together, and we talked as if we had known each other for years.
The longer I stay, the more I believe I have chosen the right family to experience Italy with. The first week has passed, and so has the awkwardness. I’m curious to see what this next week will bring, now that I have an unofficial date with an Italian guy I met on Badoo! (More on that later! )