Sunday, November 9, 2014

In the Presence of Greatness 10/14/14-10/27/14

        After getting back from London that type of missing home really got to me,  from the whole bus ride to the airport and even on the plane ride back I couldn't sleep because I was thinking about it so much.  This would be pretty much bug me for the entire week because their was no connection to home and it really got me unfocused for midterms so getting back in to studying wasn't the best. That entire first stay back was the hardest I had to study even the week prior, because all of these exams were in the same day back to back and the amount of information that is needed to take them was pretty ridiculous.  That Wednesday it was like the battle of JCU in regards to having all of these midterms back to back because of my classes.  After the day was done you could may as well say that I was dead out of my brains and just mind blown.  So once again don't judge me for this but I went to the cafe and had a couple much deserved beers for my troubles.
        Now that my exams were done I could start preparing for my trip this weekend to go where I have dreamed of going my whole life and which was truly the only place I wanted to visit Athens Greece.  That weekend it started off much like on our way to London, the only difference was that the airport was more efficient and we got through security quick and only had to get our passport checked once which was pretty nice.  Also the service was better as well on easy jet, the only thing difference was that the pressure in the cabin was not so well so my ears kept popping the entire way their and weekend.  So I wasn't the most comfortable on the plane.  Once we arrived I felt a warm feeling out side, my first site was a great hillish mountain in the distance from the airport and even though it was just hill these were just beautiful and no hills I have ever saw in my life matched their beauty.  After debarking from the plane we hoped on the bus and headed straight towards the Akropolis area where we were staying once we got there and checked in to our hostel, we headed to get something to eat.  Right around the corner from our hostel their is a Gyro place and was the best place in all of Athens because it only costed 2 euro and it was unbelievably delicious.  That whole weekend I would continue to eat their because it was so good.  After getting a much needed meal, we headed to the National Defense Ministry War Museum.  Here we saw a bunch of guns and bombs you would not expect to see in person, but also we got to see a lot of ancient Greek weapons and shields that were a sight to see.  A Hopitle spear for example is the size of me if not even taller, so you must imagine that is a pretty tall and indimidating weapon.  We also saw some stories of some rulers, though it really mostly contained descriptions of weapons, it had minor stories of like Alexander when he took a city in Greece a Philosopher was just laying their and Alexander said to him "what would you like most" and the Philosopher said "I would want you to move out of the way because your covering the sun".  I just found this funny because Alexander from that day on had great respect for that man and the man was kind of a smart ass to probably one of the most powerful men in the world.  It just showed me that the idea of having no fear of someone who has more powerful than you is a trait that not many men or women have because we submit to those who have more power than us in fear of what they would do to us and in return we act like servants to those of power.
         After we left the war museum we went back to the hostel to take a nap because we both of course didn't get any sleep the night before because we had to be up by 4 am and we both didn't sleep well.  Later that night our Hotel had a roof top bar so we went to the top to have a drink, and the sight was just beautiful.  Right when you sat down you would see the citadel and the Parthenon right behind you and it is just lit up with lights and the moon and stars shining right down on it.  That moment I started to get a warm feeling, much like the one I got after I disembarked from the plane and saw the hill in the distance.  These feelings I wouldn't understand what their were until much later.
        The next morning after having some pretty bad continental breakfast, if you call it that because all if was is rolls and jam with hot water... Yeah so we went to the Gyro place again because it was awesome and we just ate pretty bad stuff.  After we ate we started our way up to the Akropolis where we would enter to see in what the modern world says "the birthplace of democracy".  When we go to the top of the Akropolis after seeing the minor things on the way up, we approached the hall into the Akropolis.  Suddenly the warm feeling came again as me and my roommate walked through and was staring right at the Parthenon.  It was truly a miraculous sight to see, and to me it was a climax of my study abroad experience as well as a high point for my adult life.  The reason is because it one shows dreams do come true.  I remembered the first time I read about Greece and the Roman Empire my first year of High School and how inspired with their techniques and political issues, and some of the people I read about like Alexander The Great, Pericles and Constantine all of these great figures of society stood right where I stood.   It was being of the presence of greatness, the worlds greatest intellectuals of all time have stood right there and looked over the beautiful City of Athens and landscape of giant hills and the stunning Aegean Sea from the citadel I am standing on.  They walked the path I have walked and have endured life struggles like I have.  The leader who has stood out to me the most was Alexander the Great.  Yes he was born into a royal family unlike me but that is not what makes him one of my idols.  While growing up especially in middle and high school, I was always second and always had to prove my worth and abilities and even though I would people would still step over me.  That was Alexander's childhood and he worked hard and proved everyone wrong and became King of the known world.  Being on top of that Akropolis was being in the presence of greatness and is a moral standard for what I want to accomplish in life.
       Me and my friends would end up spending most of our time on the Akropolis admiring the city we gazed upon.  It's funny because we were talking about life, politics and other things I guess you can say that Socrates would be looking down on us smiling.  After a very memorable weekend we would spend our last moments on top of a hill across from the Akropolis where we would watch the sun set from the top of the glorious citadel all the way in the distance of the beautiful Aegean.  Once again that warm feeling inside and still I didn't know what it meant.  The next day as our plane took off and I looked out the window saying goodbye to the Athens my heart became empty and tears came from my eyes.  At first I didn't know why I was crying but I eventually realized why.  My whole life was full of struggle and doubtfulness that I would never become someone capable to leave my country or even my state and their I was in the city I have admired my whole life, in the city where I stood where Alexander the Great stood, and in the place where the first foundations of democracy were set that would later give me the opportunity as an African man to be able to progress myself in Western society unlike my ancestors.  It was a moment where struggle of my family lineage has started to become progression to become great like the intellectuals of old.  It wasn't just for my personal feelings that I was touched by, but those of my family and how I am setting a good example to my siblings and younger family members.  I felt like one of the idols I looked up to growing up because I am setting an example to those people younger than me so they can reach to the stars and achieve bigger and greater things that I have.  It was a moment where being in the presence of greatness has made me realize that I wasn't nobody and that I was born to be a somebody.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Missing Home 10/1/14-10/13/14

             Well things our starting to get intense, here in Rome.  What I mean is midterms are coming up and I have all of them in one day.  In all honesty I have never been so nervous for midterms before.  Like unless me and the professor are not on the same page with the materials, I am pretty confident about midterms because to me it's a chance to prove myself to the faculty that I know the material and to bring up their expectations of me to make me better.  However this semester it is different, like I know one obvious reason is the fact I am taking five in one day and the University won't let me move it because they do not schedule them but the professors do on the syllabus.  So as of right now you could say I am a certain naughty word out of luck. 
             Instead of me being nervous about these tests and my Model United Nations plans for the semester and the next.  Wait I didn't thing I told you all about that.  Well this is my blog so I guess this is a time where I should tell you about it since it is really the time place and manner to do so.  Well as you know I am part of the Model United Nations Society here in Rome and what you do is basically do international negotiations with other countries representing one that you most research and argue that state's opinion.  This of course is what I am all about being a Political Science major with a focus in International Relations.  Well what has happened recently was that I have been invited to compete in a simulation in Stockholm Sweden, and then the world competition in Seoul, South Korea next semester in March with the society.  I am actually really excited about this because it allows me to focus on my transition into professionalism which has really kick started when I came here.  The reason why I am developing more now than I was back in the States is because the Political Science department here is bigger and therefore more individuals are interested in topics I am interested in too.  This has allowed me to engage with other really magnificent intellectuals from all over the world at this International University.
             As you can see I have a lot going on right now which requires me to be focused but with being focused comes with a little stress of course, but recently my roommate Alex suggested to me "You know what we haven't gone on a trip"  Now I know what your thinking why would I want to go on a trip when I have so much going on?  Now the best way to answer this is in the words of the great Drake you only live once, so that means lets go on a trip.  In all honesty I need this because for the past few weekends I have just been chilling here in Rome and exploring the city like going out side to the Imperial Palace in the park with my roommates Marco and Alex and watch the little kids ride their skateboards, scooters, and bikes really fast and watch them fall right on their face and sometimes roll down the hill when they fall.  I know I am very mean for me and my roommates finding this entertaining but how do you think Tosh.0 became famous?  It is because of these kids right here and unlike the American cable companies who charge you stupid amounts for cable I can watch these events live with out being taxed so no I am not mean.  The museums are nice here too but it is time for something new and fresh in Europe.
            So after searching the flight prices to everywhere in Europe and including outside like Israel and Turkey, I know you think I am crazy for even considering it and I would agree with you however if I were to get kidnapped by terrorists they wouldn't want me for long because one I would either drive them crazy and second I could blend in perfectly I just need to not open my off.  What I learned here is that Americans have a very noticeable accent so I would have to be careful over there.  However to get back into all seriousness we did not decide to go the middle east because it was not the cheapest, and because I didn't want to deal with the U.S embassy, I want to work in the Federal Government in the future so I don't want to be known as the crazy guy who went to the middle east to go on vacation during the peak of the Islamic State.  Yeah that does not look good on a resume, so we decided to go to London next weekend and the weekend after that Athens Greece which I have been wanting to go my whole life so this is perfect take a little vacation before midterms to get my mind off of it in London and then after midterms go on a weekend vacation to Athens and see the glorious city I have dreamed about for years.
            The past week was been very boring and not really what I want to share in this blog so I decided to save the last half of this blog of my first trip to London this weekend.  So before we left I remembered that their is a certain good friend of mine that is in London studying with some other good Big Blue Millikin students however he also bleeds purple and white like me and is my line brother Nick Roberson.  It was a miracle that he was available because we had a place to stay but I also got to see one the most amazing individuals in my life who is close to my heart and when you put me Nick and my roommate Alex together you know we are going to have a good time.
            Before me and Alex got to London we endured a true endeavor.  Besides the fact we got barely any sleep before we had to leave to catch our taxi to the airport, as soon as we decided to take Rynair a really cheap airline so what can you expect though right? Well when we got their we had our tickets and everything but then stupid policy made us wait still in the airport line for a good 30 minutes just to get checked in again and show our passports then get our passports checked another 3 times in security and on top of that another 2 more times before we got on out plane.  If anyone made a career out of stealing passports it would be at that airport for all of the times passengers need to have it out.  Well when we finally got on the plane we decided officially that we will never fly Rynair again because of the process to get on a plane in order to be jammed packed in a seat on a pretty old plane with no leg room.  Anyways after I slept on roommate for the entire flight and he slept on the random lady next to him who tried taking our whole seats, we finally got to London which we got passed airport security quicker than we got in by like a whole hour, thank god were not EU Citizens otherwise we would have been in that line forever because it was so packed.
           After a train ride from the airport to Liverpool station in London, we finally met with Nick my good friend and brother.  To be completely real with you I didn't even feel like I haven't seen him in 6 months, it was like we never separated, after we put our stuff down at Nick's house we began our journey.  First we went to Buckingham Palace where the Queen of England lives and when we were there we met this gentleman who gave us a complete story of the Royal Family.  I never understood why the British Monarchy is so adored, but after meeting him I finally did.  It is because it is just part of there lives and is the heart and soul of the nation, and when they struggle they struggle.  Their is a reason why the Queen is still the head of state because she embodies the people's mind and soul.  After that we went to see Big Ben, the Tower of London, and ate Chinese food then we went back to take a nap.  This experience have done one thing and that was remind me of home.  I know being from Milwaukee is completely different from living in Chicago and especially London, but when you put the good old mid west scenery around me, I will think of the those breezy winds across my face and the fresh green grass on the ground, I miss the gusts of fall and watching the leaves fall from the trees.  I miss home and this first day in London made me realize how much I did.  What got me the most was later that not any section of my trip, but what happened later that night.  After we took a quick nap we went to go to this play called Rachel, with Nick and the other Millikin students.  Besides enjoying a very good show, I started to surprisingly miss Millikin.  Now I have had my issues with the school and have been drastically unhappy for a number of reasons that I don't want to say on here because I know they are reading this, but the reason was primarily I didn't feel that it was home. I felt lost and stopped in my tracks for my education in my direct field of study and my professor and mentor Bobbi Gentry left which really hurt because she was the only reason I wanted to stay.  When we talk about someone who has had my back throughout the time they knew no matter how stupid stuff I did their would be four people my history teacher Jim Liska, my mentor Marshall, my high school wrestling coach Jason Stromberg and Bobbi Gentry, but currently at the time Gentry is obviously the direct influence on me because she was really the only one around.  I made the stupidest mistake of my adult life and no one really was their to help me, it was my most helpless feelings in my life and I remember people trying to in basic words end me but Gentry didn't let that happen.  Not much was said between me and her besides in her vision I was punished enough already.
             When people like that leave because of a better oppurtunity it hurts because you have a relationship with that individual and they a part of the reason you have developed to who you are today.  I thought my time at Millikin would be done but after being here in London with some Millikin students seeing my old professor Anne Matthews and watching a play something Millikin is known for doing so well.  I missed it and I never thought I would say it but the play was a tiny piece of what made me miss it.  After which me Alex and Nick went to go out get some drinks and do some night life which turned into my line brother trying to get me a drink a lot which I was not buying because one the pound is a crime against humanity and two stuff tends to get rowdy when me and Nick drink alot. There is a reason why his Mom said on my facebook that trouble has arrived with a capital T, which is not always the case.  Anyway after we had our drinks we decided to head back to Nick's place but the Tube which is the underground tunnel metro system, closes at 12 am but it was 1 am so we decided to walk.  This was a very interesting walk except when I had to take a number and every place in London was closed and even the bouncer wouldn't even let me in a club to use it, which is very ungentle-men like being since you are from England.  Thank the Queen that their is urgent care hospitals because once we went in I was gone into the bathroom and I didn't come out for a good 20 minutes.  I will save you the details because of course you are like Nick this is gross but the conversations we were having on the way back and looking for a toilet were pretty hilarious which shows whenever me and Nick go out together we always have a story to tell.  Even me and Alex but we feel every Italian bar plays the same techno music where ever we go.
            When we finally got back to Nick's place not only did the 2 hours of walking feel that my feet were going to fall off but I passed out quicker than congress passes a budget.  The next morning when we finally woke up after a long walk, we went walking around the Earl's Court area to another to find Baley's Fish and Chips so we could eat some "good" British food.  It was very delicious, what actually is more interesting about this day was when we walked to the park and we saw kids playing with mentos and diet coke.  I know what your thinking what did I do, well I would do what any good Tosh.0 fan did and we stopped pulled out our phones and started video taping them.  Unfortunately they chickened out and didn't do it like a bunch of scared y cats and each of them left.  I was very disappointing in them because they quit and I yelled at them if you quit now you'll quit your whole lives.  After watching these scared kids running away from mentos and diet coke, we decided to go back to see Westminster and all the other things to get pictures and then back to Nick's place.  We ended the day early because me and Alex had to catch our flight early at 7 am and to get there on time we needed to attempt to navigate our way through London on the bus to get there so we just chilled there. That night whiled cooking me and Nick watched the MGC showcase and watched our chapter perform.  After watching that night and chilling and having a good time with the guys I realized something, and that was how much I love my fraternity and my chapter.  This past semester so far I have been so hell bent on leaving Millikin because of how I am not where I want to be intellectual wise and they lack the programming for International Relations to the capacity where I would like it to be, but their is something their that I won't be able to the capacity I want anywhere else and that's brotherhood.  The my chapter of my fraternity means everything to me and even though I can be mad with some of my brothers at times I miss and love them in the end.  As I was on the bus on the way to the airport I could not help but looking off into the night sky thinking of home and my brothers.  What this trip to London gave me was a taste of home and how lucky I am to be from such an amazing place where I have a family of irreplaceable brothers who I love to death.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Western Life 9/12/14 - 10/1/14

This month has been one to adjust too but not really at the same time.  My life has been wake up, go workout well when I wake up early anyway, go to class, go eat, go home, chill, sleep start over.  I don't know but this still doesn't feel Italian or does it?  What is the "Italian Life" or is that even a life at all.  Like this whole month has been people asking me "how's Rome?" "Hows the Italian Life?" and I say "lol it's good" and I know when I always respond to people who ask me this they think oh that's cool or I am too good for them but that's not the case at all.  Yes I have had a culture shock and yes the way you conduct yourself here is different but at the end this life is the same.  Don't get me wrong back home we have some luxuries that aren't really used here such as a dryer, an air condition, their are not big skyscrapers in this city of 5 million people, their is not a big shopping mall or supermarket where you can fall all of your needs, everything is spread out and some times you may have to go to a multiple of different stores to find what your looking for.  So the answer to everyone's question how different is Italy from the USA all I have to say is besides the luxury of getting everything you need or want on demand, then really nothing.

I know when I say this you are thinking maybe I am not just not getting in the culture good enough or it is because I don't speak the language fluently but I just have to say this semester has been one to remember but at the same time this life style isn't American and it is not Italian it is Western.  What I have come to realize this month is that my whole life I have been thinking that life is different in other countries and when I lived their it would be so different from the USA, but the thing is it is but it isn't.  I think what I failed to look at before coming here is that this is a Western country and going to Italy or really almost any country in Europe would be the same feeling of life style besides the differences in cultural expectations, languages, and their own nationalist practices.  I know when I say this other people may have other opinions and I am open to them for discussion but that is just how I see things right now.

Like I said in the beginning about my life here in Rome, it is very straight forward but that is not just me it is the Italian's as well.  They do the same thing really they get up, work out, go to work, come home, make dinner, possibly go out an have a drink at a bar and socialize, go back home and start the day over again.  How is it different from us back in the USA?  That is basically an everyday life for us as well.  If you are not convinced my professor Dr. Bessi had a substitute one day for us not because she was sick, or had a conference, and not even because she needed to day off for just herself, she took off because her son was starting middle school and they needed her to be their for that day.  That sounds pretty similar to me and not too different from our parents back home in the states that take off of work to be at something that is very special to their children.

The final thing I want to address is politics, now I know some of you don't like politics, you don't like talking about it, you don't like thinking about it, hell you don't even like seeing it and I understand because it can be frustrating and sometimes I just want to forget about all politics and that's my life.  What I am trying to get at is that their is another big thing that we think we don't have in common with other countries and that is government.  Now believe me when I say this Italians hate their government just as much as we hate ours right now with our worst congress in history.  What I have learned from my Western European Politics course is that Italy has had more prime ministers than we have had presidents  in the past century and I wouldn't be surprised if it was longer.  According to other Italians the politicians here launder money for personal desires just like ours do and even buy their way in through offices through the mafia, I know we don't have that in the states but I think we can compare it too big corporations supporting politicians as well.  We can compare debt, policies, health care, foreign policy you name it but in the end they have the same if not similar issues we do so what's so different from us to everyone else in the world?  What is different about the life our parents our living compared to everyone else in the world? Nothing

What I am getting at in this blog is that most of us think in this mindset that other countries are so different from us and don't get me wrong they are but the life styles are the same, and the people our too.  The reason why we think it is different is because of the media and how they show their policies and what countries are doing and what they have here and there.  Yes every country has different cultures, different languages and dialects, but the life styles are the same and these individuals are just like you and me. And that is they are trying to make a life for themselves and their families.  This may be off topic but I have the privilege to meet an Italian diplomat and he told me "democracy is not about freedom of speech, it is about what puts food in me and my families belly".  This is everywhere in the world including countries that don't have a democracy.  What that means is that no matter what is going on in their country or the world, all people care about is that when they go through their everyday lives they want to make sure they have food on the table, a roof over their head, able to stay healthy and live good and when they have that the people going with their life styles of wake up, exercise, go to work/school, come home, sleep, repeat.  I am not going to say that what I am experiencing is like  every country in the world because I haven't lived in Latin America, Africa, Middle East, Eastern Europe, or even Asia, but what I can say is this life I have is a western life and this process style of life I am living is one that we all share throughout the world, and in the end we shouldn't feel so different from people who live in other points in the world, but think of each other as equals and try to make the types of lives who are less fortunate better.  We are all brothers and sisters of a big world yes some of us our more richer or poorer than the other, but in the end we mostly all go through are lives the same way but in different environments.   It's time we stop looking at other people from other countries as different but instead look at them as equals because in the end they are just like you and me.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Easy or No? 8/31/2014-9/11/2014

Readings after readings is all I see when I look at all of the syllabus's for my classes this week.  Its not like I haven't read before, but this is on a whole different level.  I guess my high school french teacher was not lying when European schools are tougher than traditional schools.  These first  2 weeks of classes have got me excited for what knowledge awaits me this semester and as well as potential struggles my rise. Based on looking ahead in the class schedules and listening to the assignments I am getting this soon, a lot of my weakness's as a student are going to be tested.  The first day it all seemed that it was going to be real chill for my first classes History of Ancient Rome and Italy and Ancient Greek Civilization, but what I have learned through the past few classes is that if you want to critically learn about the subject you need to read extra besides the reading you are given because the Professor spends extra time on slides to really tell you all of the information on the slides so sometimes we get behind.  These subjects are so interesting the problem is that it seems forever to get through the beginnings of the class before we get to the good stuff.  These origins are so boring to me mostly because I learned about people such as the Phoenicians a while ago and its like it is still in my head, hopefully on this 3rd week of classes we can finally start talking about som new stuff for me.

One class I was and still am very excited for is my History and Politics of the Middle East course, my teacher is just really awesome and has so much insight on the topic. Dr. Pejman is the right person to be teaching this subject because he is Iranian himself so when we are talking about political Islam and the fall of the Ottoman and Persian Empires at the end of World War I it is just simply amazing because not only does he have the scholarly background but he has the cultural background for the subject and that is something that is in all of the classes I am in.  All of the teachers here have a cultural background..

The next class I am taking is Western European Politics and in reality it is more like European Politics.  This is going to be more difficult than expected after this second week of classes. To give you all of those reasons why short is sweet is because European Politics is a whole messed system because the continent as a whole is divided by religious and politic beliefs, which has resulted in Europe to have eight main political parties that separate Europe from cooperation.  This is what is going to be a challenge this semester because as an American because I am used to a two party system struggling for power under a federal democratic system where in Europe it is based on a 8 party system in a democratic society that is different all across Europe.

My last class which can also be arguably one of my favorites is called Moles, Spies, and Terrorists and this is actually an Intelligence Studies class.  In case you do not know what Intelligence is it is basically the title of the class plus the bureaucratic systems we see in the world such as the CIA in the USA and MI5 and MI6 in the UK.  All of which is a good class to take especially with the current development in the Middle East with ISIS.  The only problem with this is we are not "required" to read the readings since their are too many books and the Professor did not want us to purchase any. So I am just worried for when it comes down to the papers and the test will I be ready.

Overall European classes are relatively engaging and I can say that I am having my most exciting and educated semester at John Cabot because it is covering my career path in International Relations which is something that I couldn't due back at my home school Millikin, because their has been a lack of international relations courses in the Political Science department which is something my former Professor and Mentor Bobbi Gentry changed before she left Millikin.  But in recent events the classes have now been going down and being more focused in domestic studies and public affairs.  So this semester at John Cabot is the most exciting in what I feel is the greatest semester of my college career and yes it may be hard and I may have higher expectations here but in the end I am loving everything I learn here and I can not wait to see how this material develops me as a professional and most importantly as a person.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Journey 8/25/2014-8/31/2014

Well this past week has been just one to remember, in this short amount of time I have meet so many new people from all of the United States and the rest of the World.  So much has happened I don't even know where to start, but I think it would be best if I just start with the beginning when I left.  It all started on Monday August 25th in the morning around 3:00 am I couldn't sleep.  It wasn't because I was nervous but more of I felt empty.  Now everyone who knew that I was going to Rome all asked me "are you excited?" or "are you nervous?" and the honest answer was no, because I am already used to living far away from home already just this time it is farther. My feelings as I described were of emptiness, because I didn't know what was about to happen or even if I was actually going to get in the country.  The reason I said that is because when I was getting my visa along with preparing my paper work for permit to stay, all the information I read for these documents said something completely different I needed paperwork wise for the documents.  So when it came closer and closer for me to leave a part of me felt that I was going to go all the way to Rome and as soon as I got there, they wouldn't let me into the country.  Well obviously that didn't happen because I am here now but then it to me was a huge possibility.  So that morning I was really just chilling there, just trying to be excited in some way, but it wasn't really because deep down in me I didn't want to walk out the door.  Over the course of the past summer I got into a relationship with a magnificent woman that I met the year before and we made it official on May 27th, and the three months we spent together were truly three to remember.  So when I was about to leave I had to say see you later to her because for the next four months I would be living in room, and I was nervous because based on what happened a couple years in my long distance relationship, I didn't want it to happen again because she may not be perfect, but to me she is worth everything.  Another thing was my Mom and my little sister, they are used to me going to school far away but this time I am going 4,000 miles away over a big ocean and in the past they saw me every couple of weeks sometimes and this time they are not going to see me till I come back so I really just don't want them to worry about me because I will be fine and even when I do get in a problem I typically get out of it.  The other thing was I felt that I had huge chip on my shoulder, for my family and friends.  For my family I am first African male in my family to go over the Atlantic since my family was brought over to the Americas over 200 years ago to be slaves. So for me to be that individual to get the opportunity you pretty much can put in your heads that I do not want to fuck this up.  The reason why I say  this in such a clear slang context is because that is how serious I feel about it.  You see my major is International Relations and part of a future of a person in this major is to work abroad as a diplomat, so traveling abroad happens pretty frequently, and for this to me my first trip abroad and true test to see if I want to do this for the rest of my life and to fuck it really puts a dent and a serious mark in my resume back home and back at my home institution I bet you my life savings that if I were to fuck up CIE and my Honors Program Coordinator would probably want to hang me, but that isn't going to happen so I am all good.  Well that is what I was thinking about that whole morning till I really had to leave.

When it came time for me to leave all the things that were going through my mind just disapeared, because in my mind it was game time and my focus level was on 100% and I was ready to travel. So my mentor Marshall who I told you about earlier came to take me to the airport in Chicago, it felt really special because he also the to college back at Millikin for the first time and now he is seeing me off to Rome.  The drive for me went by really quickly because I slept the entire time on the drive so in like a instant we were there at O'Hare airport trying to figure out what terminal I was supposed to be at.  So as I got my stuff out of the van and me and Marshall gave our casual see you laters, I began my journey.  Let me tell you something about traveling out of Chicago, if you are going to travel anywhere and you would like to be there at a certain date and time, DO NOT GO TO THROUGH CHICAGO.  I say this because I was supposed to leave from there for Montreal Canada at 3:45pm and to catch my flight to Rome at 9:20pm that night and I would be there in Italy at 11 am the next morning.  However that wasn't the case because I didn't leave Chicago till 8:30 because all other flights going to Canada were late and mine was on time so what Air Canada did was they moved all other flights on to my flight which was on time and I had to wait forever.  It was a good thing I had my laptop and my game Civilization V otherwise I don't know how I would of got the time to go by.  So I didn't get to Montreal till about Midnight and to the surprise of including me I was not pissed, all I was thinking was "if this damn airline doesn't do something for me I am going to Canadian prison" good thing for me and them because it would of been rough for them too because I am a handle full. But anyway Air Canada gave me a free hotel room at the Sheraton along with food money so I could eat pretty decently while I waited for my next flight which was the next day at 9:20 pm.  So I went to my king sized tempri pedic bed at the Sheraton and slept till the next day where I at pretty fancy at the Sheraton for 10 bucks and since in Canada the U.S currency reigns supreme it was pretty legit.  I got to check out later which was pretty awesome so at 2 p.m so when I got to the airport I was pretty early but I ended up chilling and played Civilization V on my laptop for the most of the time till I decided to get something to eat.  To everyone who is about to judge me when I say this yes I went into a pub at the airport to eat before I got on the plane.  I had some delicious calamari along with a nice 2 tall glasses of beer call La Ma Taunte.  Well after my nice dinner it killed the rest of the time till my flight to Rome and believe me when I said this those two beers helped me go to sleep real quick after we took off and well played Civilization V for a couple hours.

When I woke up we were crossing the alps mountains of Northern Italy.  I must say that when woke up I was breath taken.  History was going through my mind and I felt so lucky to be experiencing and I knew that this was the beginning of many great things I would see in Rome and possibly other great locations I would visit in my time in Europe.  When I got off the plane I must say going through customs is not nearly as bad as what they said it was going to be like, it was like I was in and out which was really nice.  The hardest part of this process was figuring out where I was supposed to get my baggage because their was no signs saying where my flights luggage was located.  Once I found out I was quickly ready to head of to the Hilton to meet the JCU staff.  Once I did, me and 3 other people in my exact same position Kam, Raven and Owen packed out stuff in the shuttle and began to head over to our apartments.  That drive I must say was pretty scary I don't know the driving laws here but he was going 140 km which in mph it is like 86 and he wasn't going the fastest!  When we arrived to are apartment I must say everything that I thought a city looked like was transformed into something completely different.  The streets here are a lot more narrow so their are a lot of one way streets.  The apartment is very similar too, everything is a lot smaller including the kitchen, though it was shocking to a lot of people here to me my house back home is similar so it is pretty easy for me to make myself at home.  After unpacking taking a nap and going to the housing workshop me and Owen who I meet back on the shuttle along with this Guy named Adam decided to going exploring we ended up going by Campo de' Fiori just learning all of the streets.  We eventually just went exploring bars around the neighborhood and later down by the Tiber river where they have this festival going on down there.  It was a good night and I am going to leave that at that and if you want to ask more about it feel free to email me.

The next few days were very interesting as well as adjusting to getting know not just a completely different area but at the same time a new lifestyle and atmosphere.  When you walk to campus from where I live you go through these narrow streets that have these countless mom and pop shops like restaurants little store and Gelato stands.  Rome is a very cash driven cities so a lot of places really don't accept credit so if you want to get something on demand, having a couple Euros in your pocket isn't such a bad idea.  Even thought everything such as the supermarket, the bookstore and a lot of historical monuments are I refuse to take the metro system.  Even though their is a very unhealthy practice of pick pocketing here, and they go to any means necessary to get what they want. Someone at my school had this John Cabot handbag that we all got and some tried to cut the bottom of it so they could grab stuff out of the bag.  That practice isn't why I want to not take the metro, in all honesty I find walking around the city very comforting and historical.  The other thing that is different is the Italian reaction to people who speak English and what I mean by different is that their is a mix in reactions.  For me I don't speak a lot of Italian in fact I know a very little bit of the language. So for some people if you don't know the language fluently they will not respond to you but for the other half of the people if you know a little Italian they will be more willing to help you out and speak in English also, those are the type of people I love to run into.  In all reality the Italian reaction to American is not too different from majority of American's treat people back in the States who speak Spanish.

What I have noticed so far is Italian society isn't too much different for American society but it is significantly different because I feel that Italians are more proper than then people growing up in our country.  Not saying that Americans are dumb or anything but their is a very great deal of respect that is given between citizens that you do not see in America.  I went out probably every night this week and even thought I didn't drink really all of those days, I noticed the difference between American style and Italian style.  What I mean is not by drinking even though we tend to get drunk while they drink casually on a daily basis.  Italians don't care about where you come from whether you are different, instead they treat you as equals when back home we must judge everyone by just the shoes on someone's feet.  Their is a lot I have noticed this week but I can only confirm my thoughts by continuing this journey with an open mind learning new aspects of life from their culture so that maybe I can bring these ideas back home and use it to better our community, our country, and our world.

Sunday, August 31, 2014


Greetings all this is the first part of my countless stories and experiences overseas in Europe.  But before I tell you guys everything as I go on with these posts I need to put down some ground rules for myself so you all know what I am all about.  First thing is I am not going to hide anything from any of you, because this isn't some extended vacation in a foreign country, this is about living in another foreign country. And that is a big difference because this typical American style life we live instantly changes once you get on that plane about to embark an adventure of a life time. So with that I asked you all to keep an open mind about what I say to you because it is the experiences of myself and my fellow students who are on the same adventure as I am in and this is not my story but our story.

So now that we got the rules out of the way I am going to give you a little background of myself so you know where I come from because once you do you are going to understand why the things I say in these posts are said and most importantly why this  4 month integration in another society is so important to me. So how about we start with my name.  My name is Nick Truog and I am from West Allis Wisconsin in the United States of America.  I was raised by a single mother with two other siblings, Jackie Truog (Mother) and my big sister Jennifer Zenke and my little sister Abby Truog.  My mom is Nurse which is a good job but when you are raising three kids and paying off student loan debt, its hard to grow up in a way that makes you ambitious and expect unbelievable things to happen to you.  So in short terms it is rough growing up for me and my sisters, we are faced with consistent grief and troubled times that we didn't get the opportunities that most children get growing up, but our Mom taught us that behind all of the Bullshit that happens with us it just made us stronger and the love of our mother is the one thing that I can say that is the one thing I have that no other child has in the world and that's the love of my mother.

This is only the beginning of my story so instead of talking to you year by year I am going to skip over years to show the crucial reasons why I thought I would never step outside the country or even go to college or even dream to be something bigger than what I was while growing up.  When I was 12 years old I was arrested and put into plank road detention center in Wawautosa Wisconsin and later St. Charles shelter and the best way I can describe this place is that it is where kids go who can't go home and have no one willing to come get them.  So when you are put in a place like these a thought of having a future is foolish because I am more worried about getting out alive.  Eventually I was taken out in the care of my Dad.  Now I didn't know my Dad growing up so when he walked back into my life to take care of me, it was a big shock and cultural adjustment for me myself.  Well when I lived with him we really never didn't stay in same place, and what I mean about that is that we never really stayed in the same place for long over the course of the 2 years I lived with him we have had 4 different houses including a summer in a hotel.  So just by telling you that you can only imagine the stuff I went through these years.  Now when my took me in he was going through his own trials and tribulations and even though he couldn't take care of me like he would like, he never would let me go cause he didn't want me to end up like he did grow up as a kid and that is in the streets.  Through this time span of living with my Dad, we struggled with money which is why we moved so much as well as the countless nights we had to power off, so most of those nights we would run a power strip down from the basement upstairs in our duplex just to get some power in our rooms.  Just to be in that atmosphere of that life style makes you feel poor, and what I mean by poor, I mean not in a way of being homeless but the in way that you feel like you are damn near being in that life style, where you have to struggle and work your ass off just so you are not homeless, to the point where you have to buy everything you need with all the money you have and when a bill comes out of no where, you finally realize you do not have anything to fall back on when life bites you in the ass.  That's how it was for me and my dad but the only difference between me and him is that I had no money.  So my opportunities for enjoying my teen years were slim because I was unable to hang out with those potential life long friends I encountered, because of money and due to the fact I lived an hour bus away from school.  It was tough but school was all I had to escape the darkness in that time.  In Plato's allegory of the cave, he describes our world as a a giant cave where majority of us live in covered in darkness, and in that darkness we are kept from the light which is knowledge but most importantly hope, and it my early teen years school was that light for me because it was only thing keeping me from complete darkness because the influential people I meet through school and in other places like Running Rebels Community Organization are really the ones who kept me going.  People like Marshall Williams of that Community Organization mentored me from then and still does today,  he would pick me up from my house everyday at 10:00 am just to take me to the library or charity events just to show me what life has to offer when you grow up but in order to get that you need to keep fighting on through the struggle.  Another person who was very influential person to me while growing up was my history teacher Jim Liska.  Now this man was something else, when you talk about a teacher who shows passion in what he does for a living, no one can get better that Mr. Liska.  His Who-Raw give no fuck attitude really put a spark in what he was teaching.  Now what this man did for me is actually a pretty funny story, because when I first met him in 8th grade as his student, me and him really did not get along, I can promise you I got kicked out of his class every other day but for some odd reason even though my 13 year old idiotic self drove him insane he always was there to get me out of trouble as well as there to talk to me and find out why I acted the way I did at that time.  Liska would do this for me all through high school, I wouldn't piss him off as often but their was a few moments when I did.  He was just a good person to talk to about life, but more importantly about history in general because he made me realize that what we learn from history is essentials for us to get us through life and to become successful.  Even though the history we learn has a much bigger world wide impact, we connect those events to similar struggles in our life.  That is what he taught me and because of the connection me and Mr. Liska had he helped me find out what I wanted to do with my life and that is to get involved in some type of politics.

These 2 years were the most detrimental moments of my life and it really made me think that was no life for me, but after all the struggle I learned one thing, in life their is going to be a lot of people who are just going to want to screw you over for whatever reason they have to do so, but the one thing my parents taught me what my Mentor Marshall Williams taught me what my High School teacher Jim Liska taught me was to never quit and by far they didn't raise no quitter in me.  I would go on about my earlier years but instead I will save that novel for another day because this is also pretty vague as it is to me and I am sorry but I just need to get you all up to speed.  Well later I eventually graduated High School and ended up spending my next two years at a small school in Decatur Illinois called Millikin University.  At this school I began to mold myself in discovering who I am and how I wanted to take my desired career in politics and molding in it in something that can help better other people around me.  I really didn't find this out till I joined my fraternity Sigma Lambda Beta.  I know it may sound funny to all of you but these great men have really helped me in finding out who I am and what I wanted to do with my life.  When I was being educated to become a member of my fraternity my membership educator Chase Plasencia really taught me something that really has been in my head since he first taught me and my line this and that is "Pain is temporary and Pride is Forever".  What that meant to me was that everything I've been through in my life whether it was being arrested at the age of 12 or being stressed, all of those trials I went through in my life were very painful but it was temporary but it is my pride that is whats going to get me through those tough times and into the light or prosperity.  This lesson stuck with me and with that I quote I treasured it in my heart so that I would never forget it.  That lesson took me far because it kept my grades high when I was struggling with my personal life, and it reminded me that something good was eventually going to happen.

When I mean good things were going to happen, I meant good things were going to happen because in Spring 2014 I learned about a scholarship in my honors program that would allow me to study abroad in another country as long as I meant the requirements, and because of that fired up work ethic all of these people put in me while growing up as well as in college, made no question to me that I was more ready for this opportunity so I took it.  And well that's how I ended up here and Rome.  So now you know a little about me and how I got here, if you want to learn more about it feel free to comment with your question with your email so I can respond or just email me directly at  See you guys later and stay tuned for my next post.