I spent just over three weeks in Italy and France over the summer as a part of a study abroad trip that I co-led through Michigan State’s advertising and public relations department. Jeff joined me for the first ten days while the girls stayed with my parents. We took a whirlwind two day weekend tour to Naples, Pompeii, Sorrento, and Capri. If I did it again, I’d plan more time for each, but we were happy to be able to see such gorgeous sights.
Jeff flew home after ten days, and my group jumped on a bus to drive to Cannes, France for a week at the International Festival of Creativity. Our bus drive spoke about as much English as I speak Italian (about 300 days of Duo Lingo, I have basic phrases, but I’m far from conversational), so that made for some interesting interactions as we worked out plans along the way.
We wrapped up study abroad with a final week back in Rome, where I ate my way across the city—I found a little bookshop that sold English books and spent most evenings with a glass of wine and a book on ivy covered narrow cobblestone streets.
The heat the final week was more than my little midwestern heart was used to—it got up to 104 one day, so I bought a one day pool pass after class to stay cool. While I was floating, I saw ash flying through the sky. Apparently a nearby park had caught on fire from the combination of drought and heat. I had a small air conditioning unit in my bedroom that could cool the room just enough to make sleeping bearable, but the rest of the apartment had no AC.
In the height of the pandemic, I was resigned to the fact that I might not be traveling again for a long time, but it was so refreshing to get out into the bigger world out there and to appreciate cultures beyond my own.