Whether it’s the neighborhood coffee shop or the 24-hour diner across the street, everyone has a local spot they love to call their own. This go-to comfort spot—usually somewhere that serves warm beverages and baked goods—is a pretty important place to me. It’s where I like to spend my time studying, chatting with friends, or just relaxing.
Back at my home in Bristol, Pennsylvania, I usually go to my town’s coffee shop, and when I am at Arcadia, I default to Easton Café. So, coming to Perugia, I knew that I needed to find my “spot.” And one day, there it was. Tucked next to a Perugian chocolatier, with its exposed brick walls and vintage furniture, it was love at first sight. Just as Friends has Central Perk, I now have Alphaville.
Alphaville, located down the street from my university, is a cross between an American bakery and an Italian café. I get the best of both worlds. Cupcakes, muffins, and drip-coffee are some of the American goodies we statunitensi students can find when we’re craving some good ol’ comfort food. And when we are craving the Italian goodies, there is a plethora of paninis, Italian coffees, and pastries to choose from.
I go to Alphaville a couple of days a week, usually for a quick coffee after class, or for Tandem, an international language exchange night every week. Though I’ve befriended the baristas (hooray for practicing Italian!), and have achieved “regular” status, I still hadn’t given myself the chance to sit down and savor my new spot, until a few days ago when I went to Alphaville with a good friend and decided to treat myself to an American fall classic: a pumpkin-caramel cupcake.
The last few days, I had been feeling a little down. Schoolwork was picking up, the weather was gloomy, and though I am loving life in Italy, I was missing comforts of home. But my homesickness was cured with the company of a good friend and enjoying an American fall classic, a pumpkin-caramel cupcake.
That’s when it really hit me how important it is to find a home-away-from-home.
Feeling like an outsider is hard, and will inevitably happen to anyone at some point while studying in a foreign country. Besides the comfort food, this special place also gives me the feeling of being part of a community. I really feel this when I recognize other regular customers and servers, and especially when they start to recognize me. The sense of belonging is comforting in itself.
Now that I know that homesickness can be treated with some comfort food, my next bout will give me the perfect excuse to go indulge. Perhaps I’ll try a nice, tall, strawberry milkshake … with a side of good company, of course!