By No Means Perfect

If i could sum up my experience in a phrase

At 20 years old, the last three months have brought me some of the best and worst times of my life. In that time, I was challenged in more ways than I ever expected and only kind of survived.  I was given the opportunity to grow, to see the world and to learn about myself. No, it was nothing like trying to make it through freshman year of college nor did it involve trying to climb up the cooperate ladder, but it was more than I ever expected it to be and it was HARD.

For the three months of my summer vacation, I was a nanny living in Italy. I was fully submerged in the culture of the land and in the love of two families and along the way, I grew up. I’ve tried so many different ways to write about this experience but have not been successful and so, I have decided to make a list. Yea, it is kind of a cop out but I hope it gets the point across. It’s been a roller coaster ride man.  So on this day, my last official day on the job and the beginning of the end of my summer, as I sit on the second plane on my over 24 hours, two time zones, and 15 hours layover journey to get home, here is the list of the shenanigans I have been getting myself into.

My summer was by no means perfect. And yes, I realize that I missed the opportunity for a whole different experience by opting to have this experience alone instead of going to study abroad with other people my own age. Yes, there were certainly times when I was overwhelmed by the loneliness of the full cultural immersion and the distance from everything I knew. Even so, I would never trade the experience of Summer 2011: Italia for anything in the world. As I write this and reflect back on who I was when this whole thing began and who I am now, I can shakily say that as a whole, I am not that different. Yet, (try to follow me on this analogy, I had a hard time getting it myself) if I were to consider myself as a big puzzle, I can say that there are pieces of me that through this experience have found their rightful places. At same time, I have come to figure out that other pieces, which I thought I had already placed, were not actually in their rightful positions at all but only forced to fit. Now that I am aware of this, I can readjust, realizing that it is all part of the growing process.

But most of all, this summer I fell in love with: a culture, two families, a language and FOOD and myself.

( There is no order to this list. It’s just kind of stream of consciousness.)

This summer, I have…

  1. Taken over 13 cross-country trains and had only 3 work out perfectly without a hitch.  (There was the one train that I missed as I was standing right in front of it because my watch was 2 minutes behind. Who does that?!?)
  2. Binged eaten both by force and by choice.
  3. Spent over 300Euros on phone calls. (This one is just ridiculous! Didn’t calculate how lonely I would feel being a world away from almost everyone I know)
  4. Skinny-dipped with strangers from Switzerland, who then became my friends.
  5. Partied more than I ever have in my two years of college.
  6. Gotten sicker than I have since the 4th Grade.
  7. Cried like a baby.
  8. Laughed ‘til I could not breathe, my ears hurt, my cheeks burned and my ribs ached.
  9. Made a difference.
  10. Learned so much.
  11. Taught not nearly enough.
  12. Had my underwear washed by the person paying me. (Wouldn’t you be a little uncomfortable with that?)
  13. Consumed more wine, pasta and bread than is ever necessary.
  14.  Been inappropriately touched.
  15. Had my first personal experience with racism and it was from a child.
  16. Read a ton of Harlequin romance novels.
  17. Created a Harlequin romance plot line for almost everyone I have met.
  18. Learned how to ride a bicycle.
  19. Lived in a bikini. (No, but actually. The first two months I was here, I went to the beach EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Save but 3 days…when it rained.)
  20. Had both my ego and self-confidence kicked in the throat one minute and then fed chocolate covered strawberries the next.
  22.  Learned that plans fail and people do too; that the more you wish for something, the less likely you are to get it, but that faith is a strong partner in crime.
  23.  Felt God there with me every single step of the way.
  24. Lived the first chapter of Eat, Pray, Love better than the writer of the book herself.
  25. Had, in one hour, the same conversation 9 times with a Nonna with Alzheimer’s disease.
  26. Crossed things off my bucket list.
  27. Spoken a mixture of Twi and Italian with my cousins born and raised in Italy, who I had never met before.
  28. Pushed buttons and taken risks and changed the status quo within myself and in others.
  29. Set off the airport alarm in Amsterdam, by accident. (What an idiot! But in my defense, although the button was encased, it said Door Open—kind of.)

2 thoughts on “By No Means Perfect

  1. ryan


    Im so happy to see my fellow posse members doing such great things-I look forward to sharing stories at school!


  2. Meli

    Hey hun,

    I’m so proud of you! First of all i LOVE the quote. And #25 is one of the sweetest things I’ve ever read. I can’t wait to see you Barb and hear about all your experiences first hand!

    love you!

    p.s. thanks for nominating my sister’s bf for posse…small world right? lol


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