Taking a trip to another country opens the mind to the multifarious cultures of this world. Additionally, it brings a person far out of his or her comfort zone. Residents all around speak in confusing formations of letters. Travelers feel anguish that they may not get on the right subway or train and find themselves in the middle of nowhere. An out-of-place atmosphere seems to follow a tourist.
Even though these distressing affairs took place, my vacation to northern Italy and southern Switzerland with my mom was one of the most exciting and rewarding experiences of my life. I always loved traveling. The thrill of planning a trip and riding an airplane runs in my family. Although I was no stranger to traveling long distances, this marked my first time out of the United States. With this trip came life-long lessons and memories.
I find it fascinating how my language sounds like a bunch of gibberish to people who do not speak it, and, in turn, their language sounds the same to me. Neither my mom nor I knew much Italian outside of ciao. My mom’s friends (who we stayed with while in Italy) taught us a few words that helped us get by, but we fended for ourselves when it came to our travels throughout the area. We probably appeared callow to the residents in our attempts to communicate with them. It was very humbling when people did not understand the language me and my mom spoke. I remember while in Venice a couple came up to us and started talking in Italian; my mom interrupted and said, “We don’t speak Italian.” Cue an irritated look from the couple.
Structures in northern Italy are, of course, much different from the United States. I was privileged to see many ancient buildings, including the Sforza Castle in Milan. Inside was a museum that contained art pieces and musical instruments, some from hundreds of years ago. In Venice, my mom and I walked through the St. Mark’s Basilica Cathedral, admiring the beautiful paintings and tiled floors. These buildings, centuries old, are far more aged than any structures I have seen in the United States.
The way of life also differed from what I was familiar with. For example, in Milan the schools were more specified to what was being studied by the students. The school hours varied more than they do in the United States. Traveling by train, likewise, seemed more popular. Before I visited, my time spent on trains was very limited; however, this was our principal type of transportation while visiting. We traveled to both Lugano, Switzerland and Venice via passenger train. Visiting another country helped me to see that many other customs exist in this world.
Traveling will perpetually have a special place in my heart. Right now, my thoughts are on possibly pursuing a career in foreign languages, which may lead me to traveling a lot for my work. This trip to Italy and Switzerland opened my eyes and gave me a good head start on what I hope will be many trans-continental trips.
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