Climbing Rocks and Jumping off Cliffs: My Life in Italy

November 2, 2012

I’m hiking alone in Cinque Terre on the western Italian Coast, when I notice a shaggy group of dudes climbing cliffs by the sea and jumping off of them into the water. I edge my way down a steep path to check it out. It looks a bit difficult to get in and out of the water, but I set my backpack down and decide to give it a try. I watch the people jump in yelling “YOLO” every time they leap. These guys must be from California. I soon make friends with them, and it’s not long before I too am jumping off the cliffs yelling “YOLO”  (YOLO: You Only Live Once). To say the least, my Life in Italy has been filled with many “YOLO” moments.

Life in Italy

I spend the day with my new California friends. Climbing rocks around Cinque Terre and jumping off of them again. Two of these guys have been living in Italy for two months, and are ruthlessly trying to learn the language. So we speak it with everyone we meet, but every word they pronounce in beautiful Italian sounds like it’s been waxed in a surf-shop in Santa Barbara. This didn’t stop them from trying, especially with the Italian girls. Sitting on the beach at the end of the day, I watch them on a primitive language prowl.

“Ciao bella! Come stai?!?” They say with such enthusiasm to the sexy Italian girl walking by. (Hello beautiful! How are you?)

She looks at them with slight hesitation, “Oh, you speak Italian?”

“Si! Si! Poco, poco!” (Yes! Yes! Little, little!)

“Di dove sai? Dove vai?” (Where are you from? Where are you going?) They ask her repeatedly. I watch with nothing but respect for their perseverance.

The next day, I’m walking around Siena when I’m approached by three Italian guys. “Hello Beautiful!” They say in English. “How are you?”

“Oh, parla inglese?” I say. (Oh, you speak English?)

“Yes! Yes! Little! Little! Where are you from? Where are you going?”

I laugh because this situation is oddly familiar. And my goodness, we are all the same. I used to travel for the cultural differences, to notice different types of people with different habits. Sometimes, however, it’s far more rewarding realizing similarities in people around the world than the differences. Traveling has taught me that although we all come from diverse paths and places, we’re also all just people floating around the planet trying to meet other people. Guys will always be guys, just trying to meet girls.

Before I moved and started my life in Italy, people would ask if I was nervous to move to a place where I didn’t know anyone and didn’t speak the language. Sure, it was intimidating. But once I realized we’re all just people floating around the planet, traveling doesn’t have to sound as extreme, even if you’re doing it alone. We’re all the same, anyways. Traveling has shown me that my favorite type of person is the human kind- ya know, most have arms and legs, usually 10 fingers, a brain, and the ability to communicate. Life is too short to go separating people by boundaries and cultures. YOLO, right?

About Lauren Watt

Lauren Watt is professional wanderer and writer, who currently lives in New York City.

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