I am back in America, the land of the free and the home of the brave. It is strange to be here again and settle into the normalcy and the hum of daily life here. It’s funny how the world doesn’t stop moving when you are away. You come back and everyone has continued living, completely unaware of your experience and how your perceptions have changed. Truly, no one can ever understand your time in a foreign country, not even your best friend in the whole world. The only people who will get anywhere close are those you shared your experience with.

So, I am back, sitting in a coffee shop, sharing wordless conversations with my favorite barista. He asked where I had been, but he knew not to inquire anymore once I told him. He gets it, how things are different from the other side of the world the same way they are different from the other side of the counter. I wish others understood that. I think my friend at my Italian café would understand that we could never fully understand each other’s lives. We can appreciate the routine we have, the game we play as we go through the same motions every day, but that is all we will ever know of each other.

Even though it is hard to put into words, I have been asked over and over again about my trip, so I will try to explain. I woke up every day to look out on the most beautiful view of the valley in all of Cortona. The mornings were cool and grey with hits of golden morning sun pouring over the green hills. Class was purple: peaceful, informative, and pleasant. We got lunch break from 12:30-3 every day, and I would describe it as bright yellow with streaks of green. During this time we ventured down the hill into town, found food at any local place, and often ate on the steps of the main piazza as we watched the world pass by. Afternoon class was red: fun, exciting, and filled with glasses of wine. Dinner was blue. We ate at Tonino’s on weeknights, and we always enjoyed our evenings of gelato and The Lion’s Well. Nights were dark and cool again with color sinking from the sky to hide behind the mountains until the next day began.

So, as you can see, that probably doesn’t mean much to those it doesn’t apply, but to me, it is everything. Italy was a place of color, a month of color, and that is what I see when I imagine my time there. It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life, and it changed how I see the world. Time passes in color.