By Brittni Ralston
June 28- Realization, Passion, Growth: The First Half of my Journey
Unfortunately, I had stopped journaling for a while… the entire first semester/half of summer to be exact. Originally I was only staying in Tuscania for 6 weeks. My original ticket home was June 25, that was enough time for me to realize so much about myself and what I want; not only short term goals but long term as well. I have learned that my passion for food, wine and Italian can be turned into something great. Along with this I have learned an importance of the Italian culture, and the importance of preserving the way that they eat… naturally.
[right: a flyer I made from a picture taken on my walk one day. I didn’t think that anything could say it better than an Italian snail.]
I would like to explain how Slow Food ties into all of this realization. Last spring semester at FAU I had decided to take a jogging class to boost my GPA a little bit. I had been going back and for with what I want to do that I hadn’t put enough focus on my grades and was not sure of what could possibly keep my interest. The T.A. for that class was Meghan Helbick, the founder of Slow Food on our campus. Long story short, I became the chair of communications, but we had not done too much for the movement on campus, a couple events here and there. I figured it was just a club and that I would start back working on when I returned home. Little did I know that being in Italy would spark a fire inside of me to learn as much as I could about Slow Food and the movement. Here most Italians know about Slow Food and live by the “Good Clean Fair” motto. I have decided that I am in love with the Italian language, that I want to live the rest of my life speaking it. But how on earth will Italian or a class in food and wine help me with my life? My dad repeated this question to me, as I pleaded to stay longer. This was my answer:
“I have a passion for the culture here and the language. I WANT to learn. I study day in and day out at San Marco (the café/bar where I spend most of my time speaking with locals and studying all that I can). When have I ever WANTED to study before? I know it is asking a lot and I am so grateful of everything that I have already gotten, but I KNOW that it is not time for me to go. I want to add a minor. I am going to add an Italian minor to my business degree and I want to have quality food and wine become an importance to others as I have discovered it is for me, to work between the countries, with out any language barriers. I have never been so sure and so at home with my decisions and myself as I am right now. I KNOW this will bring me success in all meanings of the word. Please trust me as much as, for the first time, I trust myself. “
I am so fortunate that my parents took what I was saying into account, even though I was sure they would say no. My dad said yes. I have never been so happy…
Now since I had stopped journaling I would also like to fill you in on how my first semester went here in Tuscania… all of my adventures. So here we go…..
LIFE IN TUSCANIA
LEFT: My first time at Montalto. one of the beaches about 20 min. away from Tuscania. Coming from Florida beaches, it was different to see black sand.
CENTER: Speedos, not a myth. Europeans really do wear them often.
RIGHT: Men constantly walking around trying to sell items as you "prendi il sole" (sun bathe)
LEFT: Mediterranean Sea
CENTER: A night out dancing at a disco in Montalto. I LOVE TO DANCE!
RIGHT: My first apartment in Tuscania, Via Ivrea
ALWAYS studying. As the Italians who come into San Marco say “studi troppo!” (you study too much!)
TRIP TO FLORENCE
[ABOVE] Stopped for un panino di prosciutto e formaggio on the way to Florence. YUMMM
Ordering in Italian “Una granita di café con pana, per favore”. A delicious frozen espresso with FRESH whipped cream… all of the whipped cream in Italy has been a million times better than in America. It is most closely related to when my mother makes it homemade with just whipping cream and a blender. Sorry mom, Italian whipped cream still takes the cake!
The Fontana di Trevi (probably my favorite place in Rome). Last year when I came to Rome on vacation for 5 days with my family I threw a coin in and it worked! I am back. Hopefully it works again . . .
Rome at night was the most beautiful! It was 2 different experiences. My advice to anyone traveling to Rome, explore everything during the day with a tour guide, learn the history and all that you can! But don’t forget to be your own tour guide and don’t just look at it, but feel all of the history around you. It’s empowering that people so many years ago have left their presence within these amazing structures! I hope to one-day leave such an impact on the world, or to be part of such an amazing culture that has always and continues to impact the world today.
I went to a few fabulous restaurants (no surprise there) where the pasta was no other than, dare I say it yet again, FRESH! I have eaten SO much, but every time I eat, I tell myself “it’s ok, you’re eating (place food item here) in Italy.”
I was shocked and so happy to see Rice Balls. These are balls of rice with mozzarella cheese and sometimes with tomato sauce, breaded and fried. My grandmother has always made them and I have NEVER seen them anywhere except for our home, or the deli that she used to own. She adds meat the inside though; apparently there are many ways to make them.
I had been in Rome for 3 days and my luggage never came. I am so thankful that I am in a group of such nice people and that Catie and Courtney allowed me to use all of their things, including clothes during our stay in Rome. On our way to Tuscania we picked up my luggage from the airport. I was SO happy!
I wrote in my journal the entire drive from Rome to Tuscania recapping my Roman adventures, sights I saw, people I met… Dancing under the Trevi fountain with some Italian boy singing Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. It is still so hard to figure out if I was dreaming or not!!! I didn’t focus too much on my journal though I made sure to soak in every second of what was outside of our van. There were mountains, a coastline at some points, farmlands, animals, and so much more… There are not any words to describe the beauty. I gazed out of the window and felt so small, an out of body experience. I am excited to be in Tuscania where I will be living for the summer and to start learning the language. I begin my class next week.
Tuscania, Italy: A small town in the Lazio region.