After 10 and a half total hours of flying and three hours of driving, I’ve finally made it to Bolzano! If landing in a new country where everything is in a different language doesn’t shock you, your life is too exciting. As soon as I landed in Milan I picked up my luggage (the dreaded feeling of possibly losing your luggage never fails) and made it to the exit where I was to meet my family. Obviously, I wasn’t the only one meeting people there so I was forced in a crowd of hugs and tears to find my host mom and dad. Luckily, they found me! In Italy they do the cutesy little half hug air kiss while saying “ciao”. They bought me a cappuccino (delicious btw) and we were off on our journey back to Bolzano! I thought it would be awkward in the car but we had so much to talk about! When just talking to each other, Matteo and Sandra (host mom and dad) will speak in both Italian and German, often mixing the two languages together. Since Bolzano is so close to Germany, it’s one big mixing pot of the two cultures. We stopped by IKEA because the closest one to Bolzano is two hours away (I’ve never been to IKEA so even that was foreign to me). Then we arrived in a city about an hour from Bolzano which I forgot the name of to make a pit stop to meet Sandra’s father who works at a camp site. He didn’t speak a lick of English so I simply said Ciao, my name, and shook his hand but he was very nice! We finally made it to Bolzano and the first stop was to pick up the kids Emily (7) and Leonie (11) at Matteo’s sister house. The girls opened the door and rushed to hug me and I must admit as a girl that has never been crazy about kids, my heart melted. We sat on the patio and enjoyed the chocolate mousse the girls made. Once we got home (you can find a tour of the condo on my YouTube channel) I was able to rest, freshen up, and relax which was much needed! After that we hung out in the pool and played a game to practice English which is nice for me because there is no pressure on me to learn their language(s) because they’re trying to learn mine! Family time is very important to this family so we ate dinner together (pasta, yum) and played card games after dinner (I brought them the Cracker Barrel peg game and they’re obsessed now) then we watched F1 which is a kind of small car race and went to bed!
- Italian music sounds just like America’s most of the time having the same top 20 countdown as we do. So if I ever feel homesick I can just turn on the radio!
- Did I mention that the kids know THREE languages?! Learning English is important to Italians and most kids now start learning English when they are 6!
- Speaking of kids, they are super polite! They always say grazie and prego (thank you and you’re welcome) and Leonie offered to clean the kitchen and dishes after supper (small gesture but I loved it)
- In the many questions I asked on the car ride, I learned that Italy had a president that acts mainly as a public figure and a prime minister that has more political power (unfortunately a new one gets elected every two years so not much gets done)
- There is a charge every time you get on the highway here! Similar to the toll bridge in Florida but on every highway, drivers have to pay per mile! Matteo has a box on the windshield that connects to his bank and has a sensor in it so he never has to wait in line, he just drives and it charges him.
- Camping is way more fun here! Instead of being in the woods with no power or food, camping in Italy is more like staying in a resort by the beach or lake. They have food, power, entertainment, and everything you could want within walking distance! Here is a camp site we visited on the way to Bolzano
- Family is everything to them! Matteo mentioned how they eat a family meal at least every other day and right before bedtime usually have family game time or a walk!
- Everything is really chill here!! The girls are only in school from 7-12 and Sandra and Matteo only work from 7-12 also. Italians live by the “work hard play harder” lifestyle and so far, I love it!