Meet Sara, the last of our new Storytellers! Hailing from Italy, she enjoys traveling the world, meeting new people, and learning new languages, making her a truly global citizen!
I have always loved airplanes. For as long as I can remember, I have always enjoyed looking at the sky, spotting airplanes and wondering where they came from and where they were headed. Planes always gave me that feeling of discovery which I was so fond of. Today, after having probably taken about 50+ planes in my life, this emotion hasn’t changed, and I still feel the same way when watching the sky.
Another quirky habit that I developed is simultaneously translating words in my head when I speak. I am fluent in Italian, my native language, as well as English, French, and German, and I know no better feeling than being able to say the same word or expression in all four of them! This is also a reason why I decided to join the SLE Examiner, since I want to start my conversation about cultures and language learning, and I want to hear what others have to say as well.
If you meet me, I swear, I am totally normal! I have friends, I love hanging out and doing all sort of things, like watching TV (not only planes), or practicing foreign languages with my international friends (not only with myself in my head).
However, there is something “wrong” with me. I think I am a travel addict. Watching movies, listening to music, and making new friends make me want to travel. Tasting ethnic food, looking at geographic maps, thinking of hot places in winter and cold places in summer, all these things make me want to travel. When talking about traveling, the first word that comes to mind is usually “tourist.” In my opinion, there’s actually a big difference between being a tourist and a traveler. If you take a look at this chart, you will notice how the tourist description has a negative connotation, while the traveler description holds a positive meaning.
Honestly, I disagree with it. I’ve been a tourist for a very long time, and I never felt I was isolating myself from the crowd, nor did I keep complaining about local habits. However, I did visit the must-see sights, besides enjoying going back home with a blissful tan! I mean, how would you want to go to Paris and not see the Eiffel Tower, or go to Greece and not get a golden tan?
Three years ago, after my semester abroad in Charlotte, NC, I started looking at things differently. I realized how I enjoyed immersing myself in the local culture, and I was so happy whenever people confused me for an American. Once, I was waiting in line for a basketball match and was talking to some friends when, all of a sudden, the guy in front of me turned around and asked me whether I was “pretending” to have an accent. “How could someone ever pretend to have a different accent?” I thought. As it turns out, my Italian accent sounded too “sweet and wonderful” to be real. Better for me, I could stop hiding it and stop trying to sound remotely American, and yet be able to blend in with locals.
Overall, I think I am more of a traveler, but this is something that I became little by little, experience after experience. After I started looking at planes, and being amazed at where they could take you, after I started learning foreign languages, and being so fulfilled when communicating with so many different people, I am slowly but surely transitioning from a “tourist” into a “traveler”. Now, when I travel to new places, I always try to do what locals would do, go where locals would go, and eat where locals would eat… But I still like to visit the Eiffel Tower in Paris!
Sara is a graduate student at Georgetown University studying Public Relations and Corporate Communications. Passionate about cross-cultural communication, she is also fluent in several languages, which include French and German besides her native Italian and English.