While I was a little skeptical about the idea of living with host-parents, I am so glad I did. Instead of living in my own apartment with American college, English-speaking roommates, I got to further immerse myself by living with two grandparent-aged host-parents. Their names are Luciana and Roberto, and they are a traditional Italian couple, who hardly speak English. We bonded through nightly dinners which lasted about 2+ hours, with conversation and game shows. They helped me with my Italian and genuinely tried to get to know Trushaa and me.
Personally, I got along better with Roberto, mostly because I have a soft spot in my heart for grandfather figures. Roberto is a hilarious human being who hardly took life seriously and always found a reason to laugh. I remember the first night Roberto and I actually hit it off, it was the week Luciana was in Milan visiting their daughter and Trushaa was sick, so I had dinner with just Roberto. At first I was nervous, but he brought home pizza and told me that he remembered me mentioning that pizza was my favorite, and then we literally talked for a good 2 hours. We talked about everything from school, softball, Siena, Andrew, my parents, pizza, chocolate, etc. And at the end of dinner, he told me that I speak well and should speak more often *cue self-five.* Since that night, I was able to open up to Roberto and Luciana more easily and was no longer so nervous around them! Throughout my time in Siena, Roberto taught me a few important things:
1) White wine is for wussies
I learned this during my first week with my new host-family. Roberto asked me about what kind of wine I liked, and before living in Italy, I only really tasted a few white wines. So naturally, I replied with white wine. Roberto’s response: “Ah! Vino bianco è per… I can’t remember what word exactly,” but he defined it as “wussies.” I laughed in response. But he was very serious because he went on to say that we only drink red wine in this house, hence my love for red wine.
2) It is basically ok to drink wine all the time
I remember once asking Roberto if he only drinks wine because I hardly saw him drinking anything else. He told me that he drinks one glass of water in the morning with breakfast, and wine with everything else. When I asked him if that was healthy, he gawked at me and said that there is water in wine, so he will be fine.
3) Go out every weeknight
Roberto occasionally teased Trushaa and I for not being “normal American college students,” because we didn’t go out every night of the week. When we explained to him that we wanted to save money in order to travel on weekends and that we didn’t think that our boyfriends would appreciate it if we went out every night, he told us who cares and to spend all of our money while we were in Italy. As you can see, Roberto tried to encourage this “You’re only here once,” mentality.
4) There is always a reason for dessert
Luciana cooked dinner for us every night, and we usually ate fruit for dessert, unless Roberto brought home dessert for us. My favorite was during Carnevale, he brought home cenci at least 3 times. Other than that, he’d bring home chocolates or pastries for no reason other than his love for sweets.
I know that these lessons might come off as a bit silly, but I love that Roberto taught me to appreciate the little things in life and encouraged me to do everything at least once. I sure do miss that guy! Do any of you have similar experiences with host-parents? Good or bad? I’d love to hear about it 🙂