Last year at this time I was back in the states, sharing the good and the bad of living in Lucca, Italy and Flers, France with my people after my three months abroad.
This year, after living in the states for seven months (from Dec 5, 2009 - June 6, 2010) I had the structure I had so longed for last year - with two jobs to get back on my feet, my awesome family and friends to plan gatherings with and walk with around the lakes, a car (thanks parental unit!) and a dependable gym membership.
But the longer I spent away from Europe, the more I wanted another shot at it. Last year was chalk full of crazy experiences that were all new and exciting. Some erupted in our faces (ie: the colossal argument over a flat tire on Via Pesciatina) and other adventures were out of a dreamland (ie: weekend in Rome, Tour of Slovenia's city of Bled, etc.)
Needless to say, it's been just over one month of being back in Europe. Phil and I have spent the first three weeks in Lucca, but with very different experiences. I think the nine months or so have shown us that we have many common interests, but that our differences must be embraced and appreciated more than the things that bring us together. That said, I've spent the majority of my time balancing minimal work (design writing for Designer Pages) with running and riding a bike. When not working or bumming around outside, I clean and cook for the two busy men (Cristiano and Phil) that I live with.
This brings me to Phil's experience this year. Every day is filled with French, Italian, and English on his cell phone and on skype. He often lays down to sleep and falls asleep in less than 2 minutes. Although I wish I had a big job to relieve the stress of loan repayments, I am happy tShow allo support him. It's a very exciting time for him and cycling, and a very unique position that I'm put in, acting as a sounding board, an accountant for expenses, a chef, and a sponge for the cultural differences abound.
Now, we're in Flers, France with the beautiful Beucherie family. It's been so great. I think the fact that I understand more of the language and that I know them so much better has helped immensely. We have been here just over a week, and will depart tomorrow for Italy again. This week of pseudo-vacation followed two days in Luzerne, Switzerland and three days in Bensheim Germany. Each were for work, so not all fun and games, but they have opened my eyes up so much to all that surrounds us in this great continent.
1) An evening trip to Sienna to see Mark and Trish, friends in Italy who are from New Sweden, Maine
2) July 3, 2010 - Léa Guesdon and I on our first day in Flers at Franck Beucherie's 40th birthday celebration
3) Sunset over the Swiss Alps while driving to Luzerne, Switzerland
4) A view of the Luzerne waterfront - BEAUTIFUL city!
5) The Beucheries: Steph, Franck, Simon, & Romaine
6) Walking around Bensheim, I ate a salt herring sandwich called Matjes. It was...interesting.