Well folks, we've been back in the U.S. for just about two months. The time has flown by. We've been bouncing from place to place; sometimes for extended periods of time and sometimes for quick visits. We'll be moving on to the next and almost-final destination soon, but in the meantime I wanted to pull together my thoughts on what the first few months back in the U.S. has been like for us.
The biggest surprise? There hasn't been much reverse culture shock. I remember that sensation big-time after studying abroad ten years(!) ago, but this time around there hasn't really been any...at all. I think we've just been basking in the convenience of, well, everything too much to be bothered even in the slightest by any culture shock.
Pleasant surprises abound! You forget about how much joy little things can bring you. It's walking into a Target and seeing adorable makes-life-a-thousand-times-easier-products. It's finding Garden of Eatin' Red, Hot and Blue tortilla chips and biting into one for the first time in three years. It's unpacking some of our stored boxes and seeing photos, mementos from college and other things we'd forgotten about.
Speaking Italian is more fun here. It's like Italians in America have a radar for us, because we've met a handful of them and all they want to do is chat, hear about why we were in Italy and, of course, talk politics. If I'm being honest, it feels like there is less pressure to be perfect with our language. The people we meet are just so excited to speak with us. It reminds me a bit of the first few months in Florence when we initially moved there. Just excitement and a simple love of the language.
I miss the little things about Italy. I miss walking to the grocery and bread shop each day. I miss the little piazzas that always felt like the essence of the city for me. I miss Livia stopping to explore nooks and crannies that kids her age have been fascinated by for centuries.
I miss our friends more than anything. Was it nice to walk across the Ponte Vecchio and past the Duomo every day? Sure. But, I actually don't miss those anywhere near as much as I miss our friends. We met some amazing people during our time in Florence and not seeing them for a few months has been a big hit. It just reaffirms a very important fact about life: people make a place feel like home.
I'm going to be putting together some final guides and recommendations for Florence in the coming weeks and months. I want to get all of my favorites "on paper" before I start forgetting things. Stay tuned!