Friday, May 22, 2009
Lonely abroad, pushing on.
I'm in Italy. Enough has happened in the last ~3 days or so to write pages about, but I'm lacking the energy/motivation, so we're gonna go summary style here. Someday I'll post pictures and better stories.
Spending 24+ hours traveling by plane, train, subway and foot - exhausting. Knowing how to ask for directions - useful. Not knowing how to understanding the instructions you're subsequently given - problematic. Hostel - has a bed, enough to make it amazing! Also a sketchy shower. Food - haven't had anything yet that wasn't quite tasty. Esspresso - life saving means of dealing with jet lag. Jet lag - something I've heard a lot about but never fully appreciated... suckiness. Math course - excellent; not very hard so far (mostly stuff I have already taught myself), but spending 6+ hours a day listening to lectures on mathematics in english has been helping me maintain the ol' sanity levels at an acceptable point. One thing that falls inside the comfort zone at least. Language - I'm learning bits and pieces, and gaining a lot of sympathy for young children whose parents use big words and sentences to communicate over their heads so they don't understand. So far everyone has been really friendly though, so that's nice. I've gotten a heck of a lot farther with a little language guidebook than I would have imagined possible, quite easily. People quickly know that I'm not from Italy, but so far don't immediately know I'm from the US - I'm taking this as a positive sign. So far Theo has been a Russian and a Brazilian.
Overall feeling about international traveling (based on my now vast experience) - it's not as difficult as I had expected, and I feel like I can manage quite well and rise to the challenges with patience and energy. Fun to see new places and experience new things + good food. But, I'm lonely. All the time, it's just me that I have to depend on, and only my own thoughts to hear. All the new-ness of things generates a lot of thoughts and new ideas, but between not knowing the language and not having a travel buddy, there isn't much outlet for it all. As much as everyone back at the bio station thinks that I am a solitary hermit by tendency and nature, I really very much value personal interactions. We'll see how things go in the following weeks - I'm hoping that my stays on organic farms will be more personal than this city business.
On top of it all, I've found out in the last two days that my grandfather has passed away, after breaking his hip last week. Still spinning in circles in my head. It was what he wanted, and he was surrounded by family and peace. But I am so far away from it all, and even more helpless than ever. I don't know how to describe it. Of all of my grandparents, I was probably closest to him. His approval meant so much to me, and I know he was very proud of me, but I can't help but feel that I wasn't good enough, and didn't do as much as I should have. Ugh. Try explaining that to someone in Italian. My little survival Italian guidebook doesn't come close to having the right words if I can't even find them in English.
Can't deal with this more now, class is starting soon and I've got to get my act together again.