Thursday, April 16, 2009

Letter from Rome! Wee!

Today I got a letter from my friend who is studying in France. The lucky duck spent Holy Week in Rome, Italy. (And you thought I got my geography wrong, haha!) There's nothing like travel to broaden horizons (and nothing like letters to make other people feel their own horizons are broadened as well).

I've always wanted to visit Rome because I want to eat gelato, try out my Unita 1 Italiano, and get lost (because of my Unita 1 Italiano). But seriously, I want to see the architecture, the churches and the Pope! There's nothing like being on land where the feeling of being so close to the Person Upstairs is so strong you see it by just looking out the window. To be sure, buildings and such are superficial, but we humans are typically incapable of believing, that we need all these replicas and art and architectural marvels to believe. So there they are. In her letter, my friend says of Rome: "As expected the basilicas and churches in Rome are all magnifiques! One is really able to 'touch' the faith through them."

Another interesting bit in the letter was her interaction with people of different nationalities. I suppose this is how I would have gone on with my own little supply of Italian artillery--erm, vocabulary. She shares, "I met three Italians while queuing for the washroom. With my poco Spanish, my piĆ¹ poco Italiano and their little English, we tried to talk to each other. More than through words, we were communicating through gestures, giggles and laughter. They were very introverted and locas! The following days, I would hear them greeting me 'ciao bella' whenever we would come across each other! It was something strange to my reserved Asian and private French sensibilities."

Isn't it so exciting! To meet new friends who call you bella (and they don't mean the Twilight heroine, if we can call Bella that)! Of course with different cultures, you learn to readjust your sensibilities (that includes expanding or detracting the size of your "personal space bubble" as needed). Also, you get to see what different upbringing other people had, and how it made them into who they are today. I was particularly fascinated with what the Spanish are like: "The Spanish girls danced rumba and flamenco. I have the impression that they are always ready to perform their dance. Someone just had to play the guitar and another to sing and clap her hands and the rest started dancing as easily, with chin up and without any trace of timidity. It's in their blood."

I really love receiving letters, especially long ones! It's like opening a book, except you know that the book is really made for you--and you learn new things, and you feel like your friend, who is miles away, is talking to you right there. Finally it makes you want to pick up a pen and write...

P.S. My friend, Nanette, is a UP teacher and French language scholar. She went to Rome to attend the UNIV 2009 congress (an event that gathers students from all over the world to share their studies/papers) apart from the obvious Holy Week pilgrimage. Like all my friends, she is awesome.

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