Thursday, August 12, 2010

Back in the U.S. of A.

So I have finally returned to my home state of North Carolina, and my experience of reverse culture shock has been just AWESOME! When I first landed at the airport and was riding in Martin's car back to Chapel Hill, I was absolutely astounded at the size of the vehicles. On the highway I would consistently spot giant Suburbans and even Hummers with the only occupant sitting in the driver's seat. The first time I stepped back into the grocery store I wondered where the pasta aisle had gone and why there were not enormous salamis and hams hanging everywhere in the butcher's corner. Finally, when I went to Elmo's diner last week my friends were wondering when we left the restaurant why I hadn't tipped (tipping is very uncommon in Italy except among tourists)! Where is my mind?

As far as my knee goes, I feel like I am well on the road to recovery. After getting back to Chapel Hill and meeting with my study abroad advisor, I went to my parents house in the mountains of Western Carolina for an appointment with the orthopedic, a meeting with a physical therapist, and a week in which I devoted myself to nothing but getting this knee better. Basically what I have is a bruise and some scar tissue right under my patella, and the therapist gave me some great exercises and advise. I went all the way trying to get it better and bought orthotics, started taking anti-inflamattories and fish oil (like my dad, so I guess I am getting old like him :) ), and began writing romantic sonnets and whispering secrets to my knee in this hope that this influx of positive energy will heal it completely.

The knee was a great excuse to rest and kick back to enjoy some of the amazing fruit and vegetables that are in season right now in Cullowhee, where my mom teaches nutrition at Western. There were homegrown tomatoes, homemade pesto, beets, and blueberries gathered from a farm right near our house where there is a bumper crop and plenty left over even for the bears! When I get settled in Togo I am going to start a garden to grow some fresh fruit so I don't have to bike a long ways to the market as often, but I doubt it will ever get near the beautiful garden my mom has going or the organic garden that our friend has by the stream down the road. Honestly, despite all of the dishes I tried travelling through Italy, Spain, Germany, and the rest of Europe, the food I eat at my house is still the best. Period.

Right now I have come back to Chapel Hill and am trying to get graduation worked out. Transferring courses from Bologna to UNC has become (of course) more difficult than I thought, but at least I have orthopedics to go on as I skip merrily from office to office to meet with advisers and professors. I really enjoyed meeting with my Italian adviser the other day because we had our whole meeting in Italian! Abbiamo fatto tutto il nostro incontro in italiano! Most nights I have been hanging out with friends that I haven't seen for a long time past and will not see for a long time hence. I am trying to connect with them but some have moved on to other states or countries and others are constantly 'impegnato.'

As far as preparing for the Corps (that's right, I'm usin' the slang word like a cool cat), I am planning on making several big purchases (an external hard drive, hiking back pack, new perscription glasses and perscription sunglasses) that are promising to further put to the test the decrepit state of my already withering bank accounts and a million smaller purchases, like massive amounts of ziplock bags or duct tape or spices, dishtowels, seeds. The list is growing, and there are probably more forms to get done for the Corps which I have forgotten in this jumbled mess.

My plan was first, take care of knee, second, get graduated, third, prepare to go to Togo. Plans are made to go astray, but I always feel better when there is a plan. Some of the other volunteers have started finding me on email and facebook, and it is nice to read that they are having many of the same problems I had (when I was in Italy) so that I don't feel like I'm charging into this solo.

Time is flying by, and the day I take off for Togo is getting closer and closer. My mind keeps repeating 'I am going to go to Togo' until I can't say it any longer (it is also a tongue twister). But thinking about it is far different from the real thing. For now, I look at what the next step is to get accomplished and try to head for that.

No comments:

Post a Comment