What did I learn during my summer in Italy? I could fill a whole book of things I learned but let's try to take it one at a time..
First, I learned to not worry so much. I know! That sounds cliché but I realized how much the American lifestyle rubbed off on me. I was acting the exact way that I preached was what I disliked about us Americans! Rushed, overbooked, and not living in the moment. So NOT Italian. I spent the first of my three months in Milan and I was completely overwhelmed with all the sightseeing I had to squish into that one month! I was trying to do too much and therefore wasn't enjoying the little things that are worth remembering. Luckily, my host family was super patient with me! I watched how the Italians handled stress and took notes. It's all about your overall view on life. If you keep your priorities in check, then you will understand most of your worries are unnecessary. Then you will realize your top priorites are and what they should be.
Second, I learned to appreciate everything in my life more. From the architecture of an old black and white marbled church tucked away in the city, to a poppy flower in the middle of a meadow that you pass every week on your runs. There is the most beauty in the most simplest of things, you must only take a moment to stop and find it. And need I mention Italian food? Not only is it delicious but how meditatively they eat is so relaxing and makes eating enjoyable. This is truly the secret to how Italians stay so skinny!
Lastly, aupairing has helped me find out about myself and grow to become a better person. This experience has put alot of things in perspective for me. It pinpoints your fears (being way outside your comfort zone) and therefore helps you get over them. This trip has honestly done me a world of good. I am a much more religious person than I would have ever dreamed I would turn out and I have accomplished exactly what I wanted in my too short of a stay.
There is a major difference between reading about how amazing a country is, and experiencing how amazing a country is. It is absolutely fascinating discovering the cultural differences between your country and theirs. It makes you feel like you are unlocking a huge secret, only you understand, and it literally feels like your brain is growing! By the way, I strongly suggest you bring a journal along to make sure you never forget your incredible experience!
Aupairing is definitely the best way for a young person to learn about a foreign culture. You are pushed out into a new world, to find new friends, and make awesome memories along the way. As long as you are an open, curious person and try to meet as many people as possible, you WILL make a new life for yourself and have another place in the world to call home. By Isabel!