Was I nervous? Of course. Was I worried? Not at all. Was I excited? Absolutely.
When I decided to live in a homestay situation during my first and only semester abroad in Italy it was strictly a matter of which housing plan included meals. Of course my friends and professors had lectured me on the cultural and educational value of living with an actual Italian family, but deep down I was only in it for the home-cooked Italian meals. That is, until I met Anna.
Anna is my host mom. She has welcomed students like me into her cozy two-bedroom apartment in the center of Rome for over eight years and, she is one of the most fabulous women I have met in my life.
Prior to my journey into the land of delicious pastas, ancient art and beautiful people, all I had was a name, an address, and a phone number. From the comfort of my home in Miami, I could only speculate as to what my new home and host mom would be like. But I was sure of one thing: no matter what, I would at least gain a story or two to tell for years to come.
1 February 2016. I opened the door to her apartment building, a little drowsy after twelve hours of flight, but excited; the kind of excited where you have no idea what’s actually going to happen but you have the best feeling about it. I struggled with my suitcase up the stairs to the first floor and learned my first lesson in Italy: the ground floor is not considered the first floor (if the woman who lives on floor zero is reading this, sorry for knocking at your door for ten minutes, did I mention I was flying for twelve hours?).
I had finally made it to the door and there was Anna. She welcomed me in and immediately mentioned that lunch was served. I loved her already.
From our first meal alone, I learned a few of the basics: Anna is a retired English professor, an avid traveller and a fantastic cook (home cooked Italian recipes soon to come). In other words, we were off to a great start. She then showed me to my room–my home for the next four months–and without even thinking I said “it’s so beautiful!” I felt her staring at me, most likely confused about my enthusiasm about a room where one wall is just a mirror and another is covered in books about absolutely everything (selfies and stories: my two reasons for living).
Fast forward three weeks, and I could not feel more at home with Anna. She helps me book my weekend trips; she tells me stories about her college days in the 60’s; she watches NCIS while we share stories of the day over dinner, it’s a dream come true. She has not only inspired me to live presently, but also to write this blog. Through Anna, I aim to inspire but also some of these stories are just too good to keep to myself.
As a student of Art History and Chemistry at Williams College in Massachusetts, Veronica Veliz’s natural curiosity has led her across the globe, specifically, to Rome. Born and raised in Miami, Florida, Veronica’s Latina heritage has inspired her passion for all things food, music, and art. Her hobbies include travelling, dancing and binge-watching Netflix.