On Going Back and the Cultural Shock

Going back to Italy means a lot of things: first of all, you’re home and, therefore, your whole family feels the need to spoil you as if it was the last time they see you. Honestly, I have nothing against that! You can eat foccaccina and prosciutto crudo and gelato as if you just got a job as a model for Rubens. You go out with your closest friend and you laugh out loud, to compensate all those muffled giggles in front of a WhatsApp screen. In a nutshell, going back to Italy is emotionally reassuring.

Linguistic-wise, you can’t say the same: going back to Italy is a cultural shock and the reason for it is that you understand everything. Your brain absorbs every sign you read, every conversation you overhear, with no intermediate passage. Because no matter what, living your second language always requires a tiny bit of effort, an extra spin in the wheels of your brain. On the other hand, when you’re home you feel like a superhero, or one of those geniuses that look at a page in a book and BOOM, they’ve read it all.

It feels like the world is constantly trying to catch your attention and this can be tiring, dazing and exhilarating at the same time. So forgive me if I come back fat, I had to eat a lot of gelato to restore energy and celebrate.

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