Common Sights Of Home

Written by Alicia January 19, 2016

A classic look at the pretty, yet threateningly cold, winters of Michigan

My hometown!

The people I will be missing the most. First and foremost my original travel buddy and best friend.

10 year old Bodi and 2 year old Dodger fight over part of a fallen branch.

Staying warm through the (usually) brutal winters.

Long before I had even been accepted into the CIMBA program, I began receiving advice and testimonies from anyone and everyone who had been in, or near, Italy. I’ve been told again and again that my norm in Italy will be so completely different from my current normal. After a mid-shower revelation that in less than a week I will be temporarily living in a different country, I have begun to pay a little more attention to my immediate surroundings. I wanted to take the time to catalog some of my most familiar sights of home – what I’ll miss and what I won’t.

By nature, I am a very judgmental person and will, no doubt, contrast every new or unusual site I encounter with what has been constant for the last twenty years. Once I have become a little comfortable with the routine and culture of my Italian life, I will make a list of my new normal—and the most common sights I encounter there.

As for the past twenty years, my most common sights have been:

1. Transport Trains: I still spend a great deal of time in the town I grew up in, meaning that I have all of the small town problems such as extending every grocery store trip by ten minutes because I ran into an old friend and/or family member… or not being able to leave town without being stopped by a heavily graffitied cargo train hauling car parts, coal, and cows. Although the sight itself has become tired and mildly irritating, the whistle that echoes up to our house at all hours of the night has become synonymous with comfort.

2. The Inside of a Car: This is the sight that I anticipate being most absent. Since I can remember, vehicle upholstery has been one of the most familiar sights, first as a young, car-seated passenger to the radio fiddling driver I am today. I’ve always enjoyed driving and drive often and sometimes great distances. Fast moving rural landscapes accompanied by a rock and roll soundtrack is nothing if not therapeutic. Not being able to, at the drop of a hat, pick up and drive any place I need, may become a mild source of frustration.

3. My Dogs: Since leaving for college I have come to realize that it is my dogs’ company that I miss most of all. No one will ever be as excited for me to come home as they are. Their constant, loving presence is as beneficial to my mental health as their over-enthusiastic jumping is bad for my physical health. Just thinking about being away makes me miss tripping wildly over their feet.

4. My family and Friends: Although I can’t say that I’m altogether too worried about making friends with my soon to be classmates, it is not to say that I won’t miss the ones that I already have. I’ll especially miss my best friend and travel buddy, who is one of the reasons I felt most confident in taking this journey. On the other side of the coin, my immediate, as well as extended, family has always been close and these next three months without any of them will be the longest uninterrupted time I’ve spent away. However, their excitement and encouragement (particularly my mother and father) in my future travels has been extraordinarily beneficial and reassuring.

5. Winter! I am most eager to leave the dreary Michigan winter. While this year has been uncommonly warm, we have not been able to escape the gray blanket that covers the landscape, roads, and permanently cloudy sky. This may seem like one of the more ridiculous or frivolous reasons to want to leave the country, but I can’t deny that it makes the list. Since sledding is rarely on my bucket list these days, the ever-present cold and snow just seems like an obscure karma-based punishment for our beautiful summers. The lower the temperature drops on the thermostat here in Michigan, the more exited I get to leave.

One of the reasons I have been so anxious to travel is to purposefully surround myself with things that I am unfamiliar with, whether that be people, language, food, or sights. It is hard to express my excitement at this opportunity and I can hardly believe just how close it is. All too soon I will board a plane and begin redefining my normal!