It isn’t easy to predict the different obstacles you face as a student abroad. While some situations feel trivial, others feel completely unfamiliar and genuinely distracting; but after spending my first month in Rome the one thing I’ve learned is to expect the unexpected.
That being said, I am shocked with how one month has already changed my attitude, particularly towards meeting and getting to know new people. As I mentioned in my previous blog post, I am currently living with my host mom, Anna, which is something which I had never done before, yet somehow felt completely prepared to handle. So far, it’s been an incredible experience. I sincerely mean it when I say that living with Anna, who has decades of knowledge and wisdom under her belt, has made me open to people’s stories, and much more curious and active as a conversationalist. As someone who once considered herself an awkward person, I can safely say that a strong, hearty conversation can be had with no more than a few open-ended questions and a smile. Most times, I end up with a response worth a million times more than what I bargained for.
One of the best real-life examples of this happened the other night when Anna and I discussed her travels over a delicious plate of risotto (this is all completely true). We sat facing each other at her small, yet cozy dinner table as Law & Order murmured in the background. Wondering about the vast array of colorful and foreign artworks displayed all over the walls of her homey little living room, I asked, “Are all these works ones that you’ve picked up travelling over the years?” She replied as her eyes move across the room, scanning each frame mounted on the wall. “Yes, well… most of them,” she paused, and then turned her head and pointed to the larger painting directly behind her, “Not this one, though obviously it’s my favorite.” I felt my eyebrows furrow as I quickly glanced at what appeared to be a flurry of solid lines, clearly some sort of abstracted drawing. “Why is that?” I asked. “Because it’s a Dali.”
I nearly choked on my food. She watched my eyes widen and smiled, but before she could utter another word I responded (a little too loudly) “You OWN a Dalì?” She explained that her godfather had given it to her as a gift years ago, and I couldn’t help but think in the back of my mind that the best gift I ever received was an iPhone.
It was a little difficult to stop staring directly behind her at the suddenly beautiful painting. As an art history major, this was admittedly not my finest moment, and I had immediately regretted not asking about it sooner.
Needless to say, this has been one of my favorite moments of my entire trip so far. The pure look of shock in my face clearly entertained Anna, but not as much as it entertains me to tell my friends that there’s an original Dalì in my house. The moral of the story being, stay curious, because you never know where one question might take you.