By: Susan Bazik
Two weeks into our trip to Venice, and it seems both as if we just arrived in Italy and as if we have been in the city for many months, since it was rather easy to adapt to the slow, lighthearted lifestyle of this quaint city.
My own morning routine of opening the shutters in our villa’s kitchen before putting a pot of espresso on the stove to enjoy with my biscotti was second nature to me. I had learned so much, and yet, there was still so much more to be discovered. My new wealth of knowledge spread beyond information related to the history of Venice and its Jewish Ghetto and its past rulers and the diversity of its peoples, as it also included newfound knowledge about myself.
The class itself was more than I could have asked for, that is for sure, and I looked forward to venturing out to a new part of the city each morning as a class in search of a new church or museum or island to see. The course not only made me more aware of the significance of religion throughout world history, but it strengthened my understanding of the importance of religion to people today, and it made me appreciate how a subject that could never be backed up with visible facts could so move and shape the world and its many cultures.
Beyond that, the way in which I was able to grow as a person was something so shocking and amazing I could not help but wonder if I were living in a dream world.
Over the course of just two weeks, I learned how to communicate with people who spoke a different language, and I learned to assimilate to their lifestyle and customs, sampling authentic dishes from their cuisine of which they were so proud, and rightfully so! At the same time, I learned how to fend for myself in a foreign city, navigating through the narrow alleyways which crisscrossed each other at different angles, and which sometimes ended in a dead end at the center of a courtyard surrounded by homes, or at the edge of a canal.
I learned the routes that vaporettos, or waterbuses, followed, and was able to travel from one end of the city to the other and back to our villa without worry. I learned how to order at the local butcher shop and bread store, and how to bargain at the markets. I gained an appreciation for Italy’s passenger train service, which took my classmates and myself to various other cities throughout Italy, giving us an even broader and more fascinating taste of this country.
I formed deep friendships with many of my classmates, and came to look forward to sharing a meal made from our combined efforts at our villa after a day of classes, in which we all got to share our new thoughts and experiences from the day. It was humorous trying to prepare an authentic Italian dinner for such a large group in our small kitchen, and with the limited cooking skills I possessed, but it only added to the adventure that was our trip to Venice, Italy, and it left me with countless memories I will cherish for many years to come.