Southern Italy, Part V
I’ve seen Italy from all sides. Places the tourists never see. I have been very fortunate. It has been humbling, and eye opening. I appreciate more deeply now what my ancestors went through to leave it for America.
I think that a part of study abroad is to immerse yourself in a different culture, and open your mind to new ways of thinking and problem solving in a foreign environment. I imagine that many students choose the countries they study abroad in based on their own ancestral heritage and a desire to connect with that. I imagine this is a big part of what study abroad IS.
I was fortunate to meet a cousin of mine in Rome during our free day. We had never met before. Though she spoke very little English and I spoke very little Italian, it is amazing how much you can communicate with a few words and hand gestures. Somehow, we had a whole conversation and managed to connect as human beings. It was wild to note the similarities in personality quirks.
I’ve never felt more American, than when I tried to immerse in my Italian roots. I appreciate both sides of myself now, the American, and the Italian. As American-Italians, we have clung on to this Old World culture for generations, as I noticed when some things I did at the dinner table closely resembled that of the Italians, and they noticed as well. But I also noticed the differences, how as Americans we have evolved into something else, and are not this Old World anymore.
It is so strange, to recognize a place, a way of being, as so familiar, and yet to not belong to it.