by Christine Mykityshyn
“Tonight, I think I’ll prepare tortellini with ragu, fresh bread, mozzarella, tomatoes and other cheeses, a salad, and of course an apple tart. Oh and wine, obviously! Do you like that?”
What’s not to like?! When getting to know my family in Padua, it seemed like the only language I needed to be fluent in was that of Italian cuisine. Luckily, I’ve had this down pat for many years. But it’s not just my host-mom’s cooking that has come in large part to define my stay here. The feeling of warmth and comfort in coming home to familiar, loving, helpful faces is unmatched.
As can be expected, the first few weeks in my new home were a whirlwind of transitions and adjustments: having cookies for breakfast, watching the Italian version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire instead of Lost, and just what were we supposed to do with three vacant hours smack in the middle of the day?! Still, for however much initially was lost in translation or felt out of the ordinary, the time I spend with my host-parents is invaluable. We laugh together, bicker, and help one another. Above all, we learn from each other.
More so than other cultures, Italians truly understand the importance of family. Two months ago, these people were complete strangers and spoke a language I struggled desperately to grasp. How is it possible they already made me feel like a part of their world? But I do. When jumping head first into a foreign situation, it’s comforting to know that a ‘family’ is the one constant that can keep you afloat anywhere.
Read other students’ testimonials on their experiences in Padua.