Last year, I visited Italy for the first time. I am an Italian immigrant, coming to America when I was only six, and going back to my home country really had an amazing impact on me. I come from Calabria and the cities my parents are from are poverty stricken. I was never able to understand why they left their families and friends to go to America; and then it hit me. They left to give me a better life with more opportunities than they had. The first city I visited was Santa Caterina, where my mother grew up. On the way there, my cab drove though these dirt roads. On these roads there were houses with broken windows and laundry flying everywhere. Once I got to Santa Caterina, I fell in love. The city, in all its poverty, was beautiful. The churches were like nothing I’ve ever seen before, people actually stopped to think about God. Instead of just walking by the church, too busy to notice anything, they stopped, did the sign of the cross, said a little prayer and went on with their day. Once I finally arrived at the house my mother lived in, I was overwhelmed. It was a one floor apartment with six rooms, my mother had five brothers. I stood there for a while, replaying all the stories I heard from her childhood. After a week, I was able to meet my godparents and their three daughters. They were so kind to me. My godfather is a baker and every morning the house would fill with the sweet aroma of fresh bread and sweet treats. They treated me like their own daughter, took me to the crystal beaches, fed me amazing cuisine and I was truly sad when I had to leave. The next city I went to is Bova. This was such a change from Santa Caterina. Bova is a type of resort place. My uncle rented a beach house and the view was amazing. The house was no more than ten feet away from the beach. Every morning I watched the sun rise over the ocean and ate sweet bread, it looked like something out of a postcard. I would wait for my cousins to wake up and then go down to the clear, blue beach with them. The water was always perfect, not too hot, not too cold. A month flew by and before I knew it, it was time to go home. My summer in Italy changed my perspective of my life. I finally knew where I came from and met the people who I talked to on countless occasions. I miss Italy and I wish I could go back. I truly fell in love with my home country but I also realized something else. Italy was my home, but America is my home now. My parents sacrificed a lot to come to America and I do not want them to sacrifice anymore by having to pay for my college.
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