Rico Neely is a Culinary Major at Monroe College. He is currently doing a culinary internship in Italy. Throughout his time there, he will be sending us updates on his travels. In this first addition, Rico leaves the United States.
To whom this may concern:
So, here I am, enjoying life in Italy. This is very surreal! Just the other day, I had to pinch myself because I seriously thought I was in a dream. Looking back on my life, the Rico of last year would’ve envied the Rico of this week alone.
Let’s start from the beginning. Months ago, I was one of the fortunate few chosen to represent Monroe College in Italy at Cast Alimeti. Now, let’s fast forward to about two weeks before September 11 (they day my flight was scheduled to leave for Italy), I along with four others were traveling to Barbados to represent The Commonwealth of The Bahamas, at the Caribbean Junior Dueling Challenge to defend our title as the Caribbean’s Jr. Culinary team of the year. At the airport I got stopped by American immigration because my visa was expiring within this year. Because I wasn’t alarmed about this, I didn’t put a rush it. About a week later, I recognized the severity of having my visa renewed, and as a result, I had to rush to the American embassy to get it done. After being approved, I was told that I would not be able to receive my visa before the 11th with Hurricane Irma coming directly for the islands of the Bahamas. With the anxiety of missing my flight flowing through my body, I was experiencing acute depression. As if it couldn’t have gotten any worse, I was informed by American Airlines that in order to switch the date of my flight, I had to purchase a brand-new ticket (which was a little over $600.00). Thank God for a mother; just when I thought all was lost, my mother came bearing great news; I would still be going to Italy, and we had to pay 0.00! How did she do it? By utilizing the power of persuasion. Just when I thought everything was going down the gutter, there came hope. Hallelujah! Lol!
My flight was scheduled to leave in three days, and everything fell in line. There had to be some type of divine interference. Ensuring that I hadn’t missed my flight, I went to the airport about seven hours ahead. Yes, seven- it’s a bit obsessive but I had to make sure nothing got messed up along the way. Just as I had prayed, everything fell in line perfectly; I didn’t even feel all those hours. I boarded the airplane. While on this flight, I received amazing customer service and was able to sleep the majority of the flight. From my window view, I was in awe, with my emotional reservoir overflowing as I became captivated by the beauty of the country. How? How can I be in a place be so beautiful? I was soaring over snowy topped mountains, and jovial rivers with my tears barking to be freed as I reminisced on my life, wondering how I was able to experience something like this; actually, being able to do something people dream about. Okay, that’s enough of all the smooshy stuff. I was blown away, that’s all we needed to know. After arriving in Milan, Italy, I got picked up from a taxi service (GoOpti), although my driver tried communicating with me in English, we both couldn’t understand each other. After about what seemed to be ten hours, I finally arrived at my apartment. Upon entering, I was greeted warmly with the words, “welcome”, and “Happy Birthday”- Oh yeah, I arrived on my birthday- pretty awesome. That night, the people I’m living with purchased a cake for me and gave me the full nine yards.