Isabel M. is currently a junior at SYA Italy and a blogger for the Campus Reporter program. She comes to SYA from Avenues: The World School in New York.
Sitting at the table with my family, we laugh and talk about our days. It is a calm and tranquil evening, until all of a sudden my host mother blurts out, “sta nevicando!” and rushes to the window. Excited, I slide my chair back and run to her side, peering out through the panes of glass. At first, I see nothing but the light fluttering of leaves in the crisp winter breeze, but little by little I begin to make out tiny white flakes falling delicately from the sky. Just as I am thinking to myself about the beauty of the dusting of snow, like frosting over a gingerbread house, a commotion erupts around me.
“Le scuole sono chiuse!” my host-cousin shouts, pounding her fists on the table. A first, I laugh, thinking her words are only wishful thinking, because the schools cannot possibly be closed over just a few flakes of snow. However, she soon hands me her phone, open to the TusciaWeb local news page and the bolded words, “Forte nevica sulla Tuscia, scuole chiuse a Viterbo” catch my wandering eyes. Forte nevica? I think to myself in utter disbelief as I glance out at the barely-visible snow over our backyard. Everyone begins to celebrate over the “snow” day, cheering and whooping and I join in the fun, but am unable to hide my shock. My family launches into a list of all of everything they need to do before the “snowstorm” — move the car, grocery shopping and so on — as if we will be snowed in forever.
“The schools are really closed over so little snow?” I ask them, hardly able to contain my shock. My sister laughs and explains that here in Viterbo, people are not accustomed to snow (or even particularly heavy rain) so the schools will close over anything because on the rare occasion that it does snow, people do not know how to handle it and it becomes a grand ordeal. In my head, I compare this to bitterly cold New England; currently engulfed in mounds of snow while school remains in session day after day. Even in New York, where I am from, I remember school days full of snow, so this is all a novelty for me.
Immediately after the breaking news, a new energy fills the house and backpacks are shoved aside, replaced with steaming mugs and a deck of cards. We play endless rounds and watch movies late into the night, before heading off to sleep — not even thinking about setting our alarms. After a good long rest, I wake and immediately open my computer to study. My host family soon awakens and as I continue with my homework, everyone begins pulling on their boots, jackets and scarves. They invite me outside and I hesitate, but I spontaneously decide to put aside my stress of junior year and join the ones I love in a moment of fun — after all, my work is basically finished anyway. Hardly any snow has accumulated, but it is still enough to go outside with our huskies, build a little snowman and have a good time together. We remain outside in the fresh air for some time, before heading in for hot chocolate. We listen to music, play more cards, cook and chat and chat, simply enjoying each other’s company and the tranquility of being at home together for an entire day — a welcome break after weeks of traveling and hours of schoolwork.
In Italy this year, I have been fortunate to have had countless adventures; exploring different regions, experiencing different dialects and ways of life and seeing breathtaking sights every day. This has been a constant learning experience in the best possible way. Every day, I find myself looking forward to my next trip. However, when I am sitting on the train back, watching the scenery flash by, or heading to bed each night with a full stomach and a happy heart, I always think about my family and not just our memorable excursions, but our simpler, equally wonderful times together. Traveling is amazing and unforgettable, but just as important to this experience are the simpler moments; the joyous laughter and the content, comfortable silences that I will treasure forever. As wonderful as it is to be out exploring the world every minute of each day — visiting churches and climbing up bell-towers to reveal spectacular panoramas —and as hard as the “travel-bug” did bite me, this year I have also learned that sometimes there is truly nothing quite like a crackling fire as the snow comes down and chatting the night away with the people I love, in the place that I will never be unable to call my home.
- Campus Reporters
- SYA Italy