Tales of a wandering lesbian

Culture Shock

It happened today.  Culture shock.  I’ve had a couple of moments where I’ve missed home, wished I spoke the language, or wasn’t sure whether I’d complimented or insulted someone.  Today was different.

I spent the morning largely with Barbara, Deb’s mom, and Andre.  We went for our daily coffee and focaccia at Marino’s shop where we talked about the importance of family and the uncertainty of leaving one’s surroundings.  Barbara had come to Barga as a young woman to be with her husband, Deb’s dad.  We shared our stories of intentional discomfort – her moving to a new country with little knowledge of the language; my decision to take a fundraising job in order to deal with my outright terror of cold calling.

We went shopping, first to a bookstore where I bought another Harry Potter book in Italian, and then to the local grocery store, where I spent a while staring at the shampoo and face soap.  I’ll just say that it’s much less intimidating to buy vegetables and jam, and even order bread from the meat counter, than to figure out what is face soap and what is laundry detergent.  I mean, if I get the wrong bread, Sandra laughs.  If I get the wrong soap, it could be a pretty miserable week.  So, I left with jam and toilet paper, and even dishwashing detergent, but no face soap (I’ll make Deb interpret the bottles later).

When I returned to the studio, I set to work on putting together a website.  I’ve been wrestling with the Italian site for the last week and thought I’d finally worked it out.  I’m very, very close, but not totally there.  After working on my little PC for a couple of hours, I switched to the big, pretty Mac that Ryo had left vacant.  It meant an Ethernet connection instead of the satellite one I’d been using, but it also meant using an unfamiliar operating system – in Italian.

I was able to find the web browser and, after about 15 mins, translate enough of the menu to figure out how to open up additional windows.  Brava!  Unfortunately, however, the internet was not cooperating.  I spent the next couple of hours battling against the computer and the internet, both of which kept giving me error messages in a foreign language.

When Sandra asked me what happened today to put me in such a bad mood, I couldn’t even explain.  “I battled the internet – all day – and it kept winning – in Italian.”  Not surprisingly, it didn’t translate.  So, we ate the fantastic meal that Sandra had prepared, joked about my hair, and, in the end, Tommy and I ended up playing cards.  And I won.  A lot.  In both Italian and English.  And he learned how to shuffle.  And that totally made up for losing to the internet.

Bookmark and Share

November 17, 2009   2 Comments