Women's Basketball Italy Diary - Cameo Hicks
Aug. 28, 2006
I have been having a wonderful time in Italia! It has been an amazing experience that makes the seemingly endless traveling days all worthwhile. We headed for the airport on August 22nd at approximately 4 am in preparation for our flight to Newark, New Jersey. The toughest thing about that trip was that I forced myself to stay up for the entire flight just so I could sleep throughout the following 8 hour flight to Rome.
We began the trip with a bang, making our first stop the exquisite Roman coliseum before we even checked into the hotel! There, we were also able to see some wonderful Roman architecture and take in some Italian cuisine for the first time. At the end of the day, everyone was so tired from the day of travel and all of the walking, so I think the latest any of us went to bed that night was 8:30 or 9 pm.
Some other great things we have seen include: the Vatican, the leaning tower of Pisa, the city of Florence and much more. I have seen all of these places on postcards, in movies, on TV shows and I have heard people talk about them, but to see them in real life is breathtaking and completely surreal. The architecture and art is absolutely AMAZING. It is mind blowing to not only see such physical beauty, but to then realize that all of these things were created hundreds of years ago, some even in the B.C. era, makes everything that much more wonderful to see. Being able to see all of these things has been great but overwhelming at the same time. There are so many beautiful things and I am being such a tourist keeping my digital camera permanently attached to my left hand and my video camera to the right. I am trying so hard to ensure that I preserve every moment but there is so much to see that in doing that I sometimes find myself capturing the moment but not taking the time to just enjoy what is in front of me. None the less, I am trying to maintain a balance of preservation and enjoyment and I have gotten better at that as the trip has gone on.
Another fun aspect of the trip is being able to take a look into a different culture. It seems as if in America we try to make everything bigger because we have the 'bigger is better' mentality. In Italy, they definitely like things smaller in almost every sense of the word. Their cars are smaller (a majority of the cars are either two door hatchbacks or scooters), their food portions are smaller (a problem that many of the girls on the team, including myself have come across) their clothes are smaller (I can't find any Italy souvenir t-shirts big enough for my dad because the 3X shirts in Italy would be a large in the US), their showers are smaller (I'm only 5'10 and the shower head stops below my neck) and the list can go on and on.
A cultural difference that is a little hard getting use to is the Italian protocol. In America, standard protocol tells us that you say please and thank you, be polite when spoken to, try to be as accommodating as possible and on and on. I don't know much about Italian protocol but my experience tells me that it is drastically different. One of many examples was when I called the front desk of the hotel that we were staying at in Rome to ask a couple of questions. The man who answered didn't seem to be very excited that I called, but I just assumed he was having a rough day. I started to ask if I could make toll free 1-800 calls from the hotel phone but before I could even finish my sentence, he replied YES and hung up the phone. I have never had an encounter like this, especially with someone in a customer service position, so I went to my teammates to tell them about what happened, and they all said that the same thing happened to them. I could do nothing but laugh and realize that my perception of rude and polite had to shift so I am trying keep an open mind so I don't mistake common Italian protocol for rudeness, but who knows, maybe they just don't like Americans.
But now I'm rambling like I usually do, so it's time for me to wrap this up. Overall, this experience has been amazing and I am having the time of my life! I want to thank all of our supporters and everyone who worked so hard to make this trip possible. We have been given a great opportunity and I am so grateful for everything! Janet, we miss you and I can't wait to show you my Italian documentary, it's gonna be great!!!!!
Ciao for now,