Bologna Travel Diaries // Volleyball Memories

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My sister and I have loved playing on an Italian volleyball team! Our teammate Arianna invited us to her birthday party; I was so thrilled to finally have plans! It was last Saturday night, at a community center near the gym. Our dad took us by bus, and hung out nearby while we partied. I was shocked to see boys there; I had just expected it to be the team! But most of her friends were from school, they were so sweet.  I love meeting new people, so we walked around and introduced ourselves.

(“Hi, I am Kelsey” “Kaelsaeeyy?” “Sure. And this is my sister Katie” “Katia?” “Okay, si”) More of our teammates arrived and we hung out with them. The Italian culture is so affectionate; we were greeted with cheek kisses several times.

At the beginning, the party had a middle school dance vibe, the guys on one side by choice and the girls on the other. Then that one couple together in the corner. We pigged out on potato chips till her mom brought the pizza.  My sister, Katie, and I walked around and met all 40 kids in the room. They were sooo welcoming, and their faces lit up when they realized we were from America. Even if we couldn’t really communicate very well, we tried to make conversation in English by talking slow and using small words.

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I laughed a lot and I suppose sometimes you can have more fun without talking.  After a meal of pizza on plastic plates, the music started, lights went off, and the disco ball shone. One Direction and Ke$ha songs filled the room. It was crazy to me, how they knew every lyric but had no idea what the words meant. We had fun dancing to the extent of the fist pump. I taught ’em how we get down in America. I  am such a terrible dancer!  Illaria called me “Pazza” (which means crazy in Italian).  Creamy gelato cake was served and they sang the birthday song in Italian. I talked to a girl about Jesus, explaining that I was okay with being single because I have Jesus! She told me, or google translate told me, “I do not love God, but I believe in Him.” It hit me that one cannot love God, if they do not truly know Him. This was the first time I’d shared my faith to our new friends. Please pray that I can be bold!

I had a really good time at this party. It’s so good to just be away from the American culture, where I feel the pressure to be cool, and I always try to please people. The Italian culture is one where Americans are cool and few, facebook stalking is a compliment, and I don’t care what they think because I know I am only here temporarily.

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I was myself. This party was probably the first time I didn’t worry about what people thought of me. (I mean we could barely understand each other anyways!)  But it was a beautiful thing. Pure joy, I suppose. The freedom to be me, to actually smile and laugh.

I had such a good night and am happy to have a new memory with my teammates!

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I asked Kelsey to keep us updated on her amazing opportunity to live in Italy this semester through this “Bologna Travel Diaries!” For more on her European adventures, read her personal blog here.
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