Coming to America: Arianna’s Journey Around the World
Once you broaden your horizons and allow all the possibilities to come to you, it’s very hard to go back to what you used to know. That’s how I ended up living in five different counties before settling in the United States.
I pretty much lived in the same town since I was 13 years old. A town where you know everyone and everyone knows you or someone in your family.
They went to school with your cousin, worked with your uncle, or live on the same street as your grandma. Little town, little world. 12 thousand people, 3 churches, 6 pizzerias, and 5 ice-cream shops – including the best of the area. I still go every time I’m in Italy.
Licorice ice cream is my favorite. I cannot find it in other countries! (We ended up started making it at home.)
But there is also the part that I do not miss that much: nothing changes.
Maybe a store closes and a new one open, but that’s it. No new buildings, apart from housing. When a big bookstore opened just outside the town limits everyone was so excited. That is another place I still go for shopping every time I can.
And now I find that town a little tight. Beautiful sceneries from the Prosecco hills and from our historic river Piave, but tight. I miss the people of course – it’s what I miss the most. And that is why I keep going back as often as possible.
Beginnings in England
I left Italy for the first time to live and work in England when I was 22 years old. It was a short stay of only 4 months, but I learned more about different cultures and languages there than during my time in Italy. While living with some family friends for a few months, I got a job at a nearby kebab joint. It was unbelievable how much my life had changed. I went from a small town of 12,000 people to riding my second-hand bicycle to work in a city of more than 1 million people.
Meeting new people was fascinating – they came from countries I have never visited. Even if I spent only a few minutes with someone from a new culture, it was obvious how different their culture and language was from mine.
I was introduced to new foods and flavors I was tasting for the first time. I have never had “gammon” before, which is a simple traditional dish. Or a real Indian curry. Then at 22 I went to an Indian restaurant for the first time – and I loved it!
That’s where it all started. My hunger grew from foreign cuisines to the cultures themselves. England was just the beginning.
Next Stop - Finland
After a short return home to Italy, I found myself in Finland in an internship required by my university. Upon completion of the internship, I returned to Italy – but my husband and I packed our car and moved 1500 miles to Helsinki, Finland.
As the capital of Finland, and an average temperature of 30-40°F, Helsinki was an entirely different experience itself. Again, I did things I could have never done back in my town, like walking on a very deep-frozen lake at -22°F, and spending time in a traditional-smoke sauna in a forest.
Eating straight from out of the smoker the most fresh and tasty salmon I have ever tasted. They have some “weird” food for an Italian to try, like reindeer, elk, Karelian pasties, or Kalakukko, a traditional food made from fish baked inside a loaf of bread. Some of which I tried, but some I couldn’t.
I did not enjoy the intense cold, but the snow made the scenery so clean and beautiful that I will never forget my time in Finland.
Something Different: Germany
Once again, we were ready to leave the cold of Finland and head to Germany. Here I enjoyed the tradition of summer Sunday BBQs, the Christmas markets, and the vast wild nature Germany still has.
But my biggest lesson in Germany? Do not judge.
Coming from Italy, the land of high fashion and appearances, it was in my DNA to judge based on looks and first impressions – but not in Germany. Germans don’t care as much about your clothes or the kind of car you drive. I found myself freed of the negativity of judgment, and it completely changed my perspective on life.
A Dream Come True: The United States of America
Once again, I had the chance to fulfill a dream of mine: moving to the United States. This time it was for the long term. My husband and I packed our bags a final time in 2016 and landed in Dallas, TX, for 5 years, and then one last move to Charleston, SC, and we have been here ever since.
In Texas I had to very quickly tune up my hearing because it was hard to understand the Texas accent. Still, I hadn’t mastered that completely after 5 years. But we enjoyed the long summer and the short winter. Texas had us taste the best BBQ we ever had. What I regret a little, is that we haven’t seen a lot of it. We went to the gulf coast and saw the main cities, but still, there is so much we haven’t seen. After all, it is the second largest State of the USA, after Alaska.
But our home now is in Charleston, SC. A very different location that Dallas, TX. 150.000 people against the 1.2 Mil.
Surrounded by water (marshes, rivers, ocean), with a beautiful historic downtown, it’s a much more livable place for our family and us.
There is a lot of fresh fish here, but this is still the south, and “unfortunately,” it’s fried 99% of the time and I think sometimes it’s a shame they fried so much of that fresh tasty fish; but this a cultural tradition that goes back hundreds of years and started as an African American tradition, so it is not just “fried fish”.
Charleston still has a lot to teach me, and I can’t wait to keep broadening my horizons.
- Arianna Martin
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