Fête of Transitions

Kurumi S. is currently a junior at SYA Italy and a blogger for the Campus Reporter program. She comes to SYA from Spence School in New York.

Leaning on the magical balcony with rustic brown metal bars, I surveyed the grass below me, in desperate search of familiar faces I had spent countless hours stalking on Facebook. The sweet dry Italian air permeated my lungs, far purer than the New York City pollution to which I am accustomed. In attempt to give a cool first impression, I nonchalantly engaged in polite small-talk with my new peers, carefully eschewing an over-enthusiastic demeanor and embarrassingly high pitched voice.

“Where are you from? What grade are you in?” I asked the students around me. The residential director enunciated the students’ names one by one in his crisp voice with a whimsical beam and twinkling eyes. When their names were called, the students walked down the white staircase to be greeted by their new host families. As each student was called, the potential options for my host family diminished, making me further internally impatient. Few of the students remained, leaving enough space on the veranda for us to line up and find our respective families.

The sun’s rays extended to my face, giving me a warm embrace in contrast to the soft zephyr that whispered into my ear. Spending what felt like hours on that balcony, I longed to meet my family so much that the desire started to feel numb. Then suddenly the harsh voice summoned me: “Kurumi Shimura!” I blinked twice and sharply turned towards my new classmates, who urgently gestured towards the steep stone staircase. Flustered, I gave my new friends a thumbs-up and slowly approached the taunting stairs. With each step, a combination of exhilaration, unease, and fear grew like a pandemic suffusing my every vein.

Upon reaching the ground floor, the corners of my lips were pinned up and my eyes formed friendly wrinkles. The old woman I recognized as my host mother had deep creases trickling down her face, as she flashed the biggest smile and opened her arms like an angel spreading its wings. Standing next to her was my host father with clear blue eyes, a shiny bald head, and a smug grin. A younger brunette woman in her twenties squealed rapidly in unfamiliar Italian words. Last but not least, however, was the off-white fluffy creature tied to a fluorescent orange leash, barking and dashing towards my feet. “Ciao!” I exclaimed. I felt a sudden shift in my chest as I nervously kissed each of their cheeks from right to left. No longer was I concerned about maintaining a standoffish impression or exhibiting over-excitement. This beautiful, loving family was a better view than any magical balcony could offer. I sighed at the wonderful image of my future standing before me, as a sense of relief and belonging overcame me. After a long flight and bus ride, I finally felt at home.

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