If you would have told me I would finish this year with my first real solo trip, I probably would’ve looked at you a little skeptically but mostly with excitement and wanted to know details. As I’m sitting here waiting to board my flight to Italy, I feel a strange mix of anxiety and confidence. At this point, I’ve traveled enough to know that everything works out; sometimes it just cost more than I wanted it to. Another bus always comes, there’s always someone who speaks English around, there’s always one open restaurant. But, there will be no consulting with a friend this time about what’s the next best move and I’ve really enjoyed traveling with Jena and/or Ani to many places. Really, I’m just wondering if I can make friends with someone fast enough to get invited to an Italian Christmas dinner with their grandma’s food. That’s probably wishful thinking. As excited as I am to be seeing Italy, I can’t help but wish I would’ve spent this holiday at home. Missing this years Christmas with the family I realize for the coming years that this is one time I’m going to make an effort to go back to the States for. While I missed Christmas in America a few years back to go to Germany, this feels different. I guess because I don’t have an Italian family to spend the holiday with either. To start the trip, I used a ride sharing up to get to Budapest and really confused the man that I didn’t speak any Hungarian. Sigh. I spent last night at a hostel with some extremely rude roommates who woke everyone up at 11:00 and again at 4:00 and became really grateful that I didn’t choose hostels for most of my holidays. My eyes are heavy from lack of sleep but I’m excited for my Christmas present to myself and also for my mom’s to me: I’ve got a food tour in Bologna and Florence lined up and while I might not feel overly Christmassy, I always feel hungry.
Friday the school had a half day and some of the grades put in a short play. I didn’t understand any of it of course but one kid was dressed up as a Christmas tree and another had a pot on his head and a fake carrot on his nose as a snowman and it was fairly cute for not understanding the lines. Then we had a faculty lunch where the mayor came to give us each a bag of chocolate and some champagne. It was definitely the best Christmas present I’ve ever gotten from work.
This last month feels in some ways harder and some ways easier than the past few have been. I feel like maybe I’m getting the hang of teaching. I still have plenty of moments where I question why I’m here like when the post office worker refused to help me because I don’t speak Hungarian last week, but I’m starting to have more moments that I’m glad I came like when I use a few more words of Hungarian with Janos and he understands. He’s still been giving me lots of food every week which is always appreciated. Earlier this month, my great-grandmother died and I really questioned what I was doing so far away from family. I had a lot of guilt about not going to her funeral but really it just wasn’t feasible. The last time I saw my gram was a few days before I left and she told me that she was proud of me and wished she could see the world too, so with those words playing in my head, I didn’t give up and go home liked I looked up airfare to do. This month also had a set back in that I finally had gotten a job teaching online like I’ve been wanting to do since September, but in January my school schedule will change and I no longer have availability for it. It was a serious disappointment as I was looking forward to making a US salary again.
I just got to my Airbnb in Bologna and am very delighted to see that so many things are open despite it being Sunday and Christmas Eve which was one of my biggest worries for the trip. I’m off to get something to eat, Merry Christmas, Boldog Karácsnoyt, Buon Natale, Ciao friends and family.