Sicilian travels, archival insights, and all the while I was still desperately trying to build up my skills in Italian. “Piano piano,” Benedetta kept telling me, and although it was slow, I was learning – a lot. Since finishing the lessons in my Italian book from Rome, Benedetta had given me a new book and she let me pick which lessons I was most eager to learn. Each class, she would begin by teaching me the topic – completely in Italian – using a combination of the whiteboard and the description in my book. She patiently adapted her teaching style to my learning style, and after she fielded a massive number of questions from me, we would work on exercises in the workbook. As painful as it was, I would read aloud, she correcting my pronunciation, and then I would attempt to fill in the correct answers. When I answered them incorrectly, she humorously began to predict my “perché??” and would begin explaining ‘why’ right away. The following day we would go over the homework exercise I had completed alone, and we would talk for 5 – 10 minutes in Italian so that I could practice my conversational skills. Before I knew it, I was having dreams in Italian, and I was walking around Florence labeling the objects I knew with their Italian names.
Despite these strides in my struggle to learn the Italian language, I was still discouraged by one piece of information: my current level of Italian was where most of the other students from my semester in Rome had been back in March. It had taken me such a long time to learn the most simplistic lessons in this language, and at first I allowed myself to fall into dismay. Being the lucky young student that I am, however, I had people such as Liliana, Sheila, all those at MAP and even the Italians I attempted to speak with in Florence to tell me otherwise. They encouraged me to continue studying, to stay motivated, and to stop comparing myself to the pace of those around me. If my love of Italy had taken me this far, it would continue to help me through my struggle to succeed in pursuit of the Italian language.