My host mother informed me yesterday that it has been an entire month since i got here! Unbelievable. Time passes by so quickly and so slowly here: on one end, yes, I have been here for a month and I can’t believe it, but on the other, the concept of time that I have lived by all my life is obsolete in Italy. Time is not a thing to be set, to be finite, or to be agreed upon by any means. “Al’ ora di pranzo,” or literally, at the hour of lunch, implies a time anywhere from 1.00 to 3.oo in the afternoon. I unfortunately learned this the hard way- as I expected someone to call at 12, but had to wait an hour and a half to hear from them. But, I suppose that is all in the name of living the “Vita Bella,” or beautiful life- there is no beauty or enjoyment in constant efficiency: if this were so, you would have no time to sit down and sip your coffee, staring out the window at the mountainous landscape covered in tress.
My life lately has been mostly centered around volunteer work- which I am incredibly happy with. Namely, I have been volunteering at the Mensa de Poveri- or soup kitchen, for the past couple of weeks. Everyone is so friendly here and so ready to accept you into the group. There was no exception with the soup kitchen- which I found to be completely different from the one I volunteered at back in my home town of Oak Park. I don’t know why I was still surprised, but all those who come to the soup kitchen are greeted with three course meals and as much bread and water as they please. Everyone crowds to sit over a delicious, large, and warm meal- which I thought perfectly epitomized the very essence of life in Italy- good food, and good friends/ family. Though my language skills are sufficient enough volunteer without worry of totally misunderstanding, I can’t believe how much simply being there has helped me improve my abilities. Whether talking with the attendees, or with the staff afterward (all the volunteers are welcome to a family-style meal after work in which we similarly all crowd around one long table and eat pretty much the same delicious food that was served while the Mensa was still open), my vocabulary and ability to hold conversations in general has significantly improved. In addition to all this good, I met some really interesting/ incredible people while working there, and can never wait to go back.