Amici Italiani (Italian Friends)

I am continually blessed in life.  I mean that from the bottom of my heart.  When I think of all the opportunities I have been given I just cannot believe that it is my life.  I am 23 years old and have seen so much, and every single experience has left an indelible impression on me and has shaped me into the ever-evolving person that I am.  I have met some of the most amazing people in my travels and in life in general, and have the very best friends and family a girl could ask for.  I am not the kind of person who tends to have a thousand friends at a time, but those that I do have are for life and I know that I could count on them for anything.  They are also very smart, interesting, good-hearted people who are motivated to do good things in the world.  I guess this is the type of person to whom I am attracted, and when I meet someone that exhibits these characteristics, I am compelled to establish relationships with them.  It doesn’t matter what our differences are– language, culture, country– as long as we have these fundamental things in common.  So I have mentioned to ya’ll before that I have met a few people through a language tandem site where I can meet native Italian speakers with whom to practice my Italian and then they get to practice speaking English with me.  I get about 5 responses a day– a day!  Everyone is keen to learn English these days, and it is impossible for me to respond to them all, let alone meet them!  Anyway it has gotten to the point that I hardly ever check the site anymore because the 25 new messages awaiting me are just too daunting.  Anyway, the other day I logged in to sort through some mail to try to see if I could someone who might be a good fit for me.  I normally just get responses from men– only one girl has ever responded to me and now we are good friends– and sometimes I question their motives.  They see a young, American girl who isn’t too bad-looking and pounce!  I try to use my best judgment because meeting someone through the internet can sometimes be a little sketchy.  Anyway, the other day I got a message from a guy named Alex who is in the Italian military.  He is a civil engineer and is about to take a TOEFL (Test Of English as a Foreign Language) test and needed some help.  He seemed genuine and so I responded to him, and we met up Friday for the first time.  We talked for over three hours!  It was just a perfect fit!  He is about 27 and has a degree from the Italian Military Academy (Italian version of MIT, so obviously he is smart) and studied in Milan and Turin.  He is thinking about coming to the States to do an English program for a month this summer to practice some more because he wants to apply for a Fulbright!  Imagine that!  It was so funny because I was like, “Really??  I did a Fulbright!”  So anyway, we got along royally without any weird boy-girl tension.  It was a nice surprise because you just never know what to expect!  We actually met up again later that night with Andre and one of his friends and had a few beers.  His friend was very nice as well and the four of us got along great.

I guess all I am trying to say here is that I feel lucky.  I feel lucky to be here in this amazing city that never ceases to surprise or enchant me.  I feel lucky to be living here with Fiorella, who is always gracious and cheerful.  I feel lucky to have met Andre and Jacopo, Corinne (the only girl who responded to me), Nic and Sim and their family and friends, and now Alex.  All of these people are forming the web of memories that I will take away from here.  I feel lucky to be young and healthy and to have a sense of adventure.  But most of all I feel lucky to have a loving and supportive network of family and friends– all of you– waiting for me when I get home.  There is nothing else in the world that I could possibly ask for.

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