Correspondents’ Corner is a place for The Pendulum’s team of international reporters to reflect on their time abroad and share stories about the new cultures they are experiencing.
Throughout my first two years at Elon, I have always listened to upperclassmen share their amazing stories about studying abroad all over the world. With experiences taking classes, learning about different cultures, doing community service or even completing internships in any country, there were a number of different paths I could have taken. Fortunately, I knew I wanted to study abroad in Italy since I was a little girl. I have been hearing about Italy my whole life.
Since the moment I was born, I was immersed in Italian culture. My sisters and I are the first generation born in the United States. My family comes from the Abruzzi region of Italy, where both of my parents were born. They both immigrated to the U.S. with their families as young children, in search of a better life with more opportunities. For my grandparents, life in Italy was quite difficult. My Nana’s family grew up as sharecroppers in the small town of Orsogna. She did hard physical labor her whole life as work and didn’t even own her first pair of shoes until her wedding day. Her husband, Grandpa Domenic, came to the U.S. after my father was born, and they immigrated to meet him about seven years later. My Nonno’s family worked in factories. She says she is blessed to have had the opportunity to have three years of education as a child. My Papa fought in World War II for the Italian army and was taken as a prisoner of war when Italy switched sides. He was in a concentration camp for almost three years and weighed eighty pounds afterwards at 20 years old. Abruzzi, along with other areas of Italy, was devastated after the war. It was hard to rebuild the area and to support a family in such a small farm area of Italy. Once my family immigrated to the Boston area, they worked hard to provide my parents with the best life possible and quickly became proud United States citizens.
With such rich Italian roots, the traditional values have always been an important part of my life. There is a high value placed on life, good food and strong family. I have been taught to live every moment to its fullest and to appreciate simple things. My family is extremely close and always values our time together. Good food, of course, is essential in our house. Homemade gravy with meatballs and sausages for Sunday dinner is a custom that I miss it terribly while I am away at school. Italians are warm, welcoming people who enjoy sharing the pleasures of life with others.
It almost seems peculiar that I characterize myself with Italy so much but have never visited and know little about the modern culture. The anticipation of what Italy is like has been building up for so long and I cannot express how excited I am to finally go back to the country of my family’s heritage. It is unbelievable that just one generation ago, my family immigrated to the United States in search of better opportunities, and now I am given this incredible opportunity to travel back to where they came from and immerse myself in the culture. I am so ready to take it all in and have the most extraordinary three months of my life.
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