It’s really hard to write this. Partially because this is my last post of this trip which brings it to a close and I’m not ready to say goodbye and partially because it is so hard to put it all into words. How do you sum up such an incredible experience?
I appreciated the fact that our instructor Meg reiterated multiple times that we were going on this trip as travelers not just Tourists. There’s distinct difference. As travelers we want to really take in the history and spirit of the places we were visiting. Yes we want to get our picture in front of the Colosseum as well but then we want to admire it for what it stands for, history, incredible architecture and a staple in an ancient culture. We wanted to be a part of these cities not just another american taking up space and spending money. And rightfully so. A study abroad trip should not be simply all about seeing every sight and buying useless souvenirs. Especially for a Marylhurst student. Marylhurst students are all in. We want a full, and life altering experience. We want to feel as though we are part of the world not simply getting a selfie with it. So we did our best to weave ourselves into the cities and the cultures.
Looking back through my pictures I discovered I took a number of foot pictures. Thinking back I realized the reasoning behind these pictures was two fold. Number one I like looking at things through camera or phones because it truly changes your perspective on things. I do this with my art work a lot. I sometimes thought that if I opened my camera and looked at my feet I wouldn’t actually be on these Italian cobble stones but instead I would be standing on the cold concrete of Portland. I often couldn’t believe I was there half the time. I had to remind myself “I am here.” The second reason was because I have always enjoyed taking pictures of where I was standing and the shoes I was wearing. Without fail I can remember exactly where each picture was taken and what I was feeling in that moment. I’m also glad other took pictures of my feet randomly. And one of them had to do with my awesome footwear accessories in Cambridge…
Crazy enough I felt extremely comfortable in these cities. Almost one step past traveler and just a true Brit or a true Roman. There were a few important moments when I felt like a traveler. One that repeated itself regularly was getting a cappuccino every morning. I found my local coffee shop, as romans do, and I was known by name by the barista, Carlo, and the cashier(he didn’t tell me his name). I would walk in “Bounjourno!” I would say and the Barista would reply “ Bella Vittoria, cappuccino?”
“Si Si Grazie” I would reply. Then he would work his magic to produce the best cappuccinos I have ever had. I would stand there and sip it. It was always so warm, fluffy and loving. Carlo and I would sometimes chat or he would carry on with other things.
The Trastevere neighborhood would be buzzing right outside the door but all I cared about was Carlo humming and working, my delicious cappuccino and the Italians who would come in and out greeting me like I was just meant to be there. Complimenting me on my hair or asking my name. These moments made me feel like I was on more than a school trip, more than a vacation and more than even a study abroad. I was a roman. American-Roman but still just part of Rome, part of this neighborhood and part of this shop. I was always welcomed and always meant to be there. I would finish my cappuccino, slide the glass toward Carlo, pay my two Euro and say “Ciao”
“Ciao Vittoria!” they all replied.
And I would carry on with my day. It really made me feel so alive but also just present. This to me is by far the most important part of a trip like this. Becoming one, becoming immersed, being present, these are the things to which I can always hold on to.
I miss Italy and I miss London and it’s because I became a part of them and them a part of me.
One last time,