Written by Stephanie Klinkenberg-Ramirez, Student, CET Intensive Language and Culture Studies in Catania.
Two days left. How did this happen? I’ll be happy to see everyone back home again, my family, my best friends, but, man, will I miss Catania.
I feel like I came here not knowing what to expect. I was beyond nervous. There I was, travelling alone for the first time to a place I had never been. I had no idea what Catania would be like—I had never even heard of the city before applying to the program. All I knew was that I loved Italian and wanted to go somewhere I could be completely immersed in it.
Now that these two months have gone by, I know I made the right choice. CET’s program here has changed me in ways I could have never expected. I’ve met some wonderful people, not only from Italy or America, but also from all over the world. I’ve become more independent and confident and now I trust myself in new situations.
As I look back on my experience here, there are certain moments I will never forget.
Last Monday, for example, two friends from the program and our Catanese friend, Andrea, and I went dancing at the beach, where Steve Aoki was deejaying electro-house music. While we were driving home, around 3AM, we saw it. A glowing orange light coming from Mount Etna. The volcano was erupting! After a moment of disbelief, I started to feel afraid. Would this be Pompeii 2011? Andrea assured us we wouldn’t die and so we decided to drive up the Etna for a better look. We went as close as we could, got out of the car and watched in complete awe. I’ve never felt luckier in my life. The lava was bursting, dancing against the black sky. Afterwards, we absorbed this rare sight by eating freshly baked cornetti, filled with warm nutella. How could anything have been better than that?
Another unforgettable place is Isola Bella at Taormina. It's a cove, with small, smooth stones instead of sand and water so clear that you can see the bottom. The moment I saw it, I knew I had found paradise. We swam there for hours—I never wanted to leave the water. We made our way toward the mouth of the cove, the open sea, and climbed large rocks jutting out of the water. Later, our warm towels greeted us, and we basked in the sun. Afterwards we took a cable car to the town, high above Isola Bella. A gorgeous view, cute shops, and a beautiful chiesa, or church, awaited us. No more than a week passed by before I went back.
So here’s the dilemma—after all these great experiences, how can I ever be content back in the U.S.? How can I get back in the routine of rushing around and checking my Blackberry every ten minutes? How can I settle for mediocre pasta or even cannoli from Mike’s Pastries? I guess what I’ll miss most about Sicily is how I live here, taking a pause at midday, staying out late at night, eating the delicious food, meeting friendly people every day.
Catania really has everything you could ever want. There’s the city, with its nightlife, there’s Etna , and there’s the sea. The people here want to know you, and the best way to learn Italian and to feel at home here is to make an effort to get to know the people. I wish I could stay longer, but I know nothing is going to keep me from coming back to Catania in the future.