by Melinda Gallo

At home in Italy

After a flight to Bangkok from Krabi, we waited until 3 a.m. before our plane arrived from Taiwan to take it direct to Rome. We ate our last meal at the airport and said good-bye to Thailand for now. We arrived in Rome on time and rushed to the express train to take us to the main train station in Rome. Within an hour, we were on our Eurostar to Florence.

I couldn't help but look out the window at everything that we were moving past. The tall buildings, the paved streets, and all the cars and motorini (scooters). I remembered when we would take the van for our day trips how different the countryside was. I looked out at the villages where the locals live, their small, square-shaped houses on dirt roads, and many people standing or lying outside while children ran around.

The difference between the people who have money and those who don't was obvious. Mostly the people in Thailand seemed to have less money and less luxuries. Almost everyone we saw had a cell phone and in their houses we could see televisions, but they were generally dressed in such a way that made me feel that they were poor. I might have assessed them incorrectly, but when I looked at their flimsy shoes and their mismatched clothes, I assumed that they had less money. And, with the cost of everything like food and clothing, I felt that for them to afford the same things, they must make a lot less money than us.

I feel as if I have more culture shock coming back to Italy than when I left it. The first shock was the weather, which was cloudy, but not as cold as it looked and certainly not as cold as when we left a few weeks ago.

We were hungry when we arrived at the train station in Rome, so we bought a piece of pizza. I couldn't help but calculate the price in bhat, which seemed so ridiculous to me now.

The first person I called was Alessandro's mom to tell her that we had landed safely and that we were on the train back to Florence. I couldn't wait to take a taxi through town from the train station to see my city again.

When we drove down via de' Cerretani, I couldn't help but be shocked by the amount of cement, paved streets, and sidewalks everywhere. No more lush greenery, no more ocean, no more beach, no more blue skies, and no more dirt roads. I was also surprised by all the people walking around, going into and out of brightly lit shops.

We arrived into our apartment and the first thing I did was look out at the Arno. Our vacation viaggio di nozze (honeymoon) was fantastic, but there's nothing like coming home.

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