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.

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