Reality Check

Ashley - Clarendon Hills, Illinois
Entered on March 2, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: gratitude, place
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“Please fasten your seatbelts and get ready for landing, we’re about to make our decent.” I was so excited to be landing in Rome, Italy – known for its food, wine, fashion, romantic guys and Ferraris. While I was too young to even think about wine I was excited about the rest of the list. I was in third grade moving to my new home in Italy for the next year and a half. I was sad to leave everything behind, but I could not wait live in a new place. My parents told me that we would be living in a villa on the top of a picturesque hill. After all that I had heard about Italy, how could my life be anything but flawless filled with memories, friends and great food. While I loved my life back home I couldn’t wait to experience living in Europe. This idea slowly came crashing down the first month that I was in my small town of Grottaferrata. I soon realized, with a sinking feeling, that my anticipated life did not exist and that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

My new life seemed doomed from the second I went to the luggage carrousel only to learn that all of my family’s stuff- our luggage and 27 U-haul boxes – were not there. It turns out that our luggage missed its connection in Germany. While my mom was freaking out and yelling at the Airline, I considered it only a minor setback. Unfortunately, it continued to get worse from there. I had to wear my same gross travel clothes for three days, and I found out that my Italian was far from conversational. I was quickly embarrassed by my lack of pronunciation and mastery of the language. When school started, I stuck out like a sore thumb. I had no idea what the strange things the teacher kept saying to the class like, “Statte Zitti!!” What happened to good old English anyways? I later learned this means SHUT UP! The third week we were in Italy my house got robbed. Shockingly, this would occur six more times while we were there.

When I think back to my life in Italy, I do have great memories, but I did not have the ideal life I expected. Just like back home in Hinsdale there were still problems and things did not go my way. No matter where I am or what my situation is – green grass is only something to be hoped for. Life is not perfect and there is no place on earth without flaws, and the more you hope for a perfect place the more you set yourself up for disappointment. So, now instead of looking for greener grass I try to enjoy the grass that I already have around me.