I received an e-mail from my friend, Teapot, who is currently studying in Orvieto, Italy. She sends these updates out to people every few weeks informing us of her experiences and her thoughts on being abroad. The latest one included a list of things she is thankful for. I thought I would do the same. It is now half-way through the semester and I’m coming to realize what I appreciate both here and in America.
1. I’m thankful for my family. For the first time in 14 years, I miss them (the last time was when I was a 6-year-old day-camper and homesick). I know they wish the best for me, and often times know the best for me.
2. I’m thankful for my friends back home. My day has been made multiple times when I received a letter from one of them–whether a note about killing a bee, a mad lib, or a literary work of art. I am pleasantly surprised by the fact that relationships can grow even though there is an ocean between us. Likewise…
3. I am thankful for Skype and Facebook, so I can keep in touch with people.
4. I’m thankful for the friends I have made here. I love hearing their stories, their thoughts, and their jokes. Sometimes, doing homework isn’t worth it when I can learn so much more from a conversation over tea than from a Language Acquisition textbook.
5. As mano protinga sesuo said in a reply to an earlier post, I really do appreciate the other Americans here. Yes, we can be imposing, but it is very relieving to have someone who is experiencing the same things as me.
6. I’m thankful for Mindaugas, my English student. Every English lesson is so rewarding because I actually get to interact with someone who is living in real life–not only that, but living it fully and well. I hear about his family, his girlfriend, his job, his plans, his dreams, his daily routine. It’s a sort of escape for me from the idea of ‘studying abroad’ to actually living here. And I find more and more that I love to teach. Sometimes it is difficult, but I never dislike it.
7. I’m thankful that people, at least somewhere in the world, still live simply. I see old men riding their bikes through the forest even on cold, windy days and I admire them for finding joy in nature. ‘Fun’ does not seem to have spoiled natural pleasure here.
8. I’m thankful for my roommates and all the curious things that happen between us.
9. I am thankful for the opportunities I have here: traveling, teaching, editing, cooking, learning, playing. All of these are enabling me to make the best of this experience.
10. I’m thankful for the nice ladies at the post office. Without their patience and understanding, I would never be able to send anything.
11. I had forgotten how pleasant alone time was. Mindaugas was late to our English lesson yesterday (we actually missed each other by 4 minutes), but while I waited for him, I was able to take my focus off school, culture, and work, and just sit and think.
12. I’m very thankful for food that other people make, because I’m not very creative.
13. I’m thankful for my German student. I was writing my German professor a post card saying that I wasn’t able to use it my knowledge much, but as soon as I finished writing, I got a visit from a girl who is engaged to a German and needs to practice speaking. Thanks Jesus, that was cool. We’ve been meeting for three weeks and today is our final lesson before she moves there officially.