Thursday, June 26, 2008

America in Rome

As I sit here on my last night and reflect over the past seven weeks, I wonder how I made it through my time in Rome. I was put in a situation with 22 people I did not know, in an apartment with three bathrooms and thirteen girls, and a totally foreign language. How did manage?

As much as I critiqued the American products that I found here in Rome, I think they really helped me out. I do not eat at McDonalds as home, but it was comforting to see the familiar arches. I do drive a Ford, so seeing cars of a similar brand made me think of home. I often wonder how I would have done in a place like Gimmelwald.

Over the past weekend, a few of my friends and I traveled to the small village of Gimmelwald on the side of a mountain in the Swiss Alps. With its stunning population of 150 people, American products were the last things I saw sold in the small store. We joked about running into a McDonalds on our three hour hike through the woods.

Was the joke me yearning for something familiar? How is it going to feel for me to be submersed in American culture and society tomorrow? I have gotten used to pizza cut with scissors, bars that sell coffee, and gelato stores every few meters. As happy as I am to see my family and friends, I am going to miss Rome and the small things that make it function. Will I be more critical of American chains and superstores on my arrival back in the states?

I know one thing is for sure. I will miss walking from our classroom in the Sede under the Doria Pamphilj museum to walk to Remo's pizza shop. I will miss the decision between cheese or tomato. I will miss the owner of the store cutting the pizza he cooked with pride and I will miss his small smile as I tell him thank you. I will miss the pride Italians take in their work that has somehow been lost in American culture.

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