When we were first asked by our Italian teacher if we were interested in doing an exchange trip I was hesitant. I’d never been out of the country before and to go half way across the world for six weeks in a place I didn’t know didn't sound appealing. I told my mother about it and she couldn’t be more excited. When she was my age she travelled through Europe. She showed me pictures upon pictures of her adventures and the people she met. She also met my father here in Venice and being young and immature had a one-night stand. Not thinking anything of it, she came back to NYC and nine months later I was born. She said I would love Venice. I would be mesmerised, I would see things differently once I went, I would have the best experience of my life. Now seeing things differently? Yes. Best experience of my life? It has only been a few hours I'll have an answer to that later.
I have been speaking to Nicole my exchange friend for a month now. We were paired together due to our obsession with twenty-one pilots. We would spend hours on skype having karaoke sessions and having our neighbours screaming at us through the walls. We would always forget there was a time difference and laugh our heads off for hours. Here I was. I don’t think it was settling in yet. Anna had been telling me as well as everyone else how beautiful it was and I agree.
The restaurant we ended up at was very expensive looking. Our tables were outside next to the grand canal. The whole area was lit by facing houses and the magnificent Santa Maria Della Salute. Our table had a red soft table cloth and was lit by one small candle. Myself, Lily, Calum and Jack were seated at a table. Four more seats were empty waiting for our exchange friends.
“I really should pay more attention in Italian class” Calum whispers as he tries to read the menu but is struggling.
I roll my eyes and look down at the water of the Grand Canal, and see Venice staring back up at me. The city shown so beautiful on the water. It was almost as if there was another parallel city underneath. Perhaps with less Calums and more Leonardo Di Caprios. The thought of jumping in was appealing.
"Well, well, well look who's here" I turned around to see Nicole, grinning from ear to ear. Beside her were Calum's exchange friend Antonio, Jacks friend Piero and Lilys friend Maria.
I leaped off my chair and lunged at Nicole. She hugged me back so tightly all the while giggling.
Everyone else greeted their exchange friends with hugs and even tears from Lily. The surrounding restaurateurs were staring at us in confusion. I could understand why. This looked like some sort of weird family reunion show.
"I cannot believe you're here! You look amazing Cora" She says beaming. She's holding my hand so tightly as if I'm about to disappear. I look down at our joining hands to see red marks all over her knuckles. It looked as if she had been punching something.
"What have you been doing today? beating someone up?" I asked laughingly.
I look up at her to see her face has changed slightly. Before I can say anymore the waiter asks us to sit and offers us our drinks.
Everyone is talking and laughing. Lily is stuffing her face with spaghetti and Jack is already flirting with Maria.
"How was your flight?" Nicole asks. I look away from Jack wiping something off Maria's face with a napkin to see Nicole smiling at me waiting for my answer, while she sips her wine. In Italy the legal drinking age is 16. I couldn't believe it when my Mom told me. So here I'm two years over the drinking age, and in the US I'm two years under the drinking age. No logic there.
"It was good I-" Before I could say anymore Calum was on his feet clinking his spoon against his glass.
"Speech, Speech" Jack shouted. A little too loud that the restaurateurs once again looked around at us. This is going to be a long six weeks.
"So I just wanted to say that we are in fucking Italy my friends" He shouted.
All our other thirteen class mates sitting at other tables around us started whooping. I looked over at Lily who had a pierce of spaghetti hanging out of her mouth. I started to laugh.
"So I wanted to make a toast." He raised his glass. As did everyone else including myself.
"To adventure, to experiences, to fun, to friends and to one hell of a six weeks. Let's make memories that we can tell our kids one day. Let's take risks lets be wonders. Veni Vidi Amavi"
Everyone cheered and took a sip of their drink. As I was doing so I felt something wet and cold slid down the back of my neck, Again and again. I looked up to the the clouds had parted and rain was falling. Everyone scrambled from their seats as it started to get worse. Nicole grabbed my hand and pulled me into the restaurant.
"Jesus that came down quick" I said laughingly to her. I turned around to see Miss Anderson coming through the door drenched ringing the rain out of her fiery red hair.
"Ok guys here is where I leave you for a week to let you get settled with your families and Venice. Like I said before please be on your best behaviour. I don't want the families calling me at god knows what hour saying you're hanging from the washing lines. Yes, Jack that goes to you" She says and points at him.
Jack turned bright read and recoils in himself.
"I'll be on my cell phone if you guys need me. But other than that have fun, and enjoy the wonders of Venice. Remember what I said. Stay vigilant" and with that she headed out the door with an umbrella in hand.
I turn around to see Calum walking towards myself and Nicole. He had the biggest smile on his face.
"Let the fun begin" He whispers.