Thriving On Change

Italy has changed me already. I’ve only been here for two weeks, living with host families and teaching English in summer camps, but already I notice two things that are different now from when I arrived. The first is drinking coffee. I never did at home (no, I don’t count those java-mocha-however-many-pumps-syrupy-chocolatey concoctions Starbucks brews up as coffee) except when I was trying to function on far less sleep than I should have been getting, and even then it was less that I was drinking coffee and more that I was guzzling rather large quantities of whatever caffeinated substance I could get my hands on most easily and cheaply, and that I could get about four litres of coffee from Tim Horton’s for what it would cost me to buy a single energy drink. As an added bonus, I could put exactly as much sugar as I wanted in the coffee into it, with the energy drinks, my options were waaaaaay too much sugar or some unpronounceable sugar substitute.
My first host family offered me a coffee after dinner. I had only ever seen people in Italy drink macchiatos after dinner, and I thought that sounded pretty good. Instead I got a teeny tiny cup of extremely strong coffee, brewed in a silvery type pot that sits on the stove like a teapot.
Much to my surprise (though I think I managed to keep the look of horror and awe off my face when I saw it) I really enjoyed it. Granted, I put one teaspoon of sugar in it, which in a coffee that small meant there was almost as much sugar as there was coffee, but despite being visibly thick and dense, it had none of the foul bitter aftertaste that I tend to associate with really strong coffee. Though I now realize that it’s much less of an exaggeration than I had previously thought to talk about coffee so strong you can stand a spoon up in it.
I told this week’s host family about how I don’t drink coffee at home, but I like it here, and they nodded knowingly, saying: “Yes, American coffee is just not as good as it is here.”
The second thing I’ve developed a taste for, this one this past week with my second host family, is sparkling water. I kid you not, a week ago I could not stand sparkling water. Then one day I asked someone to pass the water and they poured me a big glass of sparkling water. Being the impeccably raised individual that I am, dumping the glass over the head of the seven-year-old next to me was out of the question (saving up those impulses for water games day!) So I drank it. By the time I got through the glass, I wanted another one, and I have no idea why. I don’t like sparkling water. Except that beginning at that very moment, I did.

Change is good.

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