The ocean smells the same no matter where I travel in the world. The salt and humidity in the air wrap me in a warm, sticky embrace that can bring memories flooding back. This is what I realized after stepping off the bus at a gas station in Italy. For me the smell triggered thoughts of Gulf Shores, Alabama, and beach trips with my family, but as I talked to other girls on the program, I realized that I was not the only one experiencing déjà vu.
Many people warned me about culture shock, and how out of place I would feel in a foreign country. While all of these warnings are true and helpful, I never expected to feel like I was still inside of the United States. These moments of déjà vu, of remembering a past situation and having it come to me, have occurred a couple times while on this trip. Stepping off the bus near the beach, or standing in a gas station picking out snacks like I would on a road trip back home, something will remind me of home, and all of a sudden, I will feel like I am there. The other girls have mentioned having these moments as well. For some, waking up they forget that they are in Italy and are surprised not to be in their bed at home. One girl mentioned that riding down the highway she would see hay-bales, rolled like the ones in the South; however, these would be painted with the Italian flag, and it would hit her that she is in Italy.
We have all had these moments of zoning out and forgetting where we are, but when we do, the magic of Italy hits us all over again. The best feeling to me though is when we arrive back at the Chigi Palace after a weekend away. We all sigh, drop our bags, and say, “It is good to be home”.