On the boat going into Venice, we were told that it is an extremely complex place to understand. This scared me considering that my navigation skills are lacking in general. I eventually got the hang of it, but that did not come without getting lost at least three or four times. The second night there, three other students and myself were on our way to Campo Santa Margherita. We had been there the night before and thought we would be able to find it again, but we were not that lucky. We were apprehensive to ask directions due to the language barrier and the fear of being perceived as ignorant Americans. However, we got over our fear and asked an older, local woman. We had described the location saying it was filled with outdoor restaurants and bars, to which she instantly knew where we were heading. However, she only gave us partial directions and told us to ask another person after we had reached a certain point. We found this interesting that she did not trust that we could make it based solely on her directions. Fortunately, we found our spot within a couple of minutes and in the end it turned out to be a really great night.
One of my favorite activities in Venice was spending the Fourth of July on Lido, a beach that our group grew to love very quickly. Due to my passion for laying out, this day was idyllic. The sky was perfectly clear and the sun was intense. The beach was extremely large and crowded with people of all ages and nationalities. Even though the water was murky to the point where we could not even see the bottom, the site was beautiful. We set up our towels and beach bags a little bit past the clear sands of the private beach to an area that was a little tougher on the feet, but we did not mind. Laying out gave me a chance to people watch and even overhear other conversations of the tourists around me. I heard a group of teenagers discussing travel plans for the rest of their summer, saying that their next destination was Rome, somewhere that I am looking foward to visiting. My eavesdropping made me realize the amount of tourists who are in the same boat as me.
I am absorbing many rituals here that are different from the United States. For example, a nice Italian woman explained to me that if I want a glass of tap water opposed to bottled I simply use the phrase "I'll have a water on the mayor!" I am learning their customs slowly but surely. By the end of my trip I will hopefully be able say I am more cultured (and maybe even a little better with directions!)